On Learning a Foreign Language

For the past year I have been taking a weekly Astrology class.  It starts at 7:00 pm on Tuesdays nights and ends at 10:00pm.  By Wednesday morning I have all the answers to the meaning of life and I’m quite full of myself.  By the following Monday night, I am all out of answers again and I get in my car on Tuesday night and drive back to my next class.

My drive is an hour each way, from my home in the north side of Houston, all the way to the west side of Houston in Spring Branch.  It’s a monotonous drive over non-descript elevated freeway with little to offer in the way of scenery.  It has been a huge commitment for a tired teacher on a school night, a commitment not so much in dollars, but in energy and sacrifice of family time.

I’m able to make the sacrifice because my search for understanding goes back many years.  As a ten-year-old, I would read the newspaper horoscopes but joked to my parents that the horoscopes were not written for kids to enjoy.   It didn’t seem fair.  Why did they only talk about grown up stuff? Why couldn’t they write horoscopes a kid could relate to?  I would have to wait many years before it started to make any sense to me.

As a teen, I read each description of the 12 zodiac signs and I was so relieved to find out that my combative bossiness could be explained.  I was an Aries! I learned that side by side with my bossy, self-centeredness was also some fine leadership potential if well channeled.  Armed with some new self-acceptance I had a way to frame a more positive and balanced picture of myself.  For many years I would continue to read horoscopes with more than casual interest. I always had a keen memory for everyone’s sign.

Eventually I got more curious about “real” astrology.  Astrology was a like a new, exotic foreign language that I wanted to learn.  It was especially true during and after my Waldorf teacher training and after reading Bernadine Jocelyn’s Citizens of the Cosmos. I began to understand more about the cycle of Saturn, and how itimpacts one’s adult life, the formation of the ego and one’s life purpose, the 7 year cycles, and other planetary cycles.  I started to get it, all humans have a cosmic blueprint based on the chronology of birth.

Two years ago I had a medical astrology reading done for some health issues I was having.  It was fascinating what I learned.  At the time I did not even know what an ascendant was, I had little vocabulary for understanding the bigger picture being shared with me.  Then it became a quest to penetrate that vocabulary.  I began to read basic astrology books and to study my natal chart more intensely. As I gained more vocabulary, I got a few more professional readings done.   I began looking at the charts of loved ones and friends.

Then a year ago I began taking classes at the Houston Institute of Astrology.  I’ve now logged some 90 hours of astrology class time.  I have studied between 30-45 charts of friends, acquaintances, and family members, attended some additional lectures and listened to probably a hundred hours of Adam Sommer’s Astrology podcasts.   It is still fascinating to me and I still feel I am at the beginning.   I guess I’m hooked.

I don’t worship astrology.  It isn’t a religion.  To me, an astrologer doesn’t require believers or followers.  I personally feel astrology need never conflict with any religion.  It is a symbolic language connected to ancient wisdom, mythology and archetypes.  It’s also a bit like watching the weather.  It is a way of connecting the meaning of personal patterns and events in our lives through a universal symbolic language and how it might be applied today, it need not conflict with faith.  It’s a tool, but where watching a weather forecast might only help you plan your day or your week, astrology might help you make make sense of things or make decisions on a larger scale.

When I started studying this a few years ago I had this idea that I would be using astrology to understand the psyche of fictional characters, to write stories.  I would emerge from my hobbit hole as the next JK Rowling, a successful novel in hand, retire a rich author to my lakeside cabin in the woods and defect from the folly of all human society with a full bank account.   It’s a nice fantasy, until I eventually lose my mind all alone in the woods without internet access, and get attacked by bears.

What I have come to accept is that Astrology will be a field of lifetime study for me and it’s only the beginning.  I’m not sure where it will take me, but the train has left the station and I can’t turn back now, sorry guys.

The 12 Archetypes

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