Bernadette Brady M.A. is a professional consulting and teaching astrologer who lives in Bristol, UK.
She holds a masters degree in Culture Astronomy and Astrology from Bath Spa University, UK . In September, 2006 she was honoured by the Astrological Association of Great Britain by being awarded the prestigious Charles Harvey Award for "exceptional service to astrology".
In her capacity as an astrologer she lectures, teaches, designs software and writes. She is renown for her innovated work in visual astrology, the role of fixed stars in western astrology and for her work in predictive astrology. Her latest work is in mapping chaos theory to astrology. For more details visit her website at http://www.bernadettebrady.com
[Note: we got onto an interesting topic even as I was getting the tape recorder set up; hence the interview begins in mid-question. I had asked Bernadette about her work as a pundit on Australian TV, predicting the results of Australian-rules football matches.]
[So far as the TV channel goes]… it really amazes them that I can tip a whole season, as, I might add, any astrologer could. They have all their experts who need to wait until two days before the match, to see who is playing and how somebody's knee injury is… I think they were quite jolted when I sent in eight weeks [of predictions] in a hit!
Last year I was here, in England, and that was the time of the finals. Of course one never knows who is playing in the finals from one week to the next - it depends on who wins [in each round]. Thus I could not do all the tipping in advance so I was lucky enough to have a student back in Adelaide e-mailing me the times of matches; and then I would work out the tips and fax them to the TV station.
Last year, the TV station found out that I had never been or seen a football match even through my tipping was going really well.
Q: Adding insult to injury!
That's right! So now they have given me a broadcaster pass which allows me into matches, which is really nice of them. It's quite funny, I didn't use to like football until I started working with it to study battle astrology. Now, I must admit I quite like it.
Q: Is this football as we know it…?
No, it's very close to Gaelic football - slightly different, but that's probably the closest thing to it you would know. It's a free-for-all, basically - no offsides, it's very Australian; it's only really played in Australia. But it is just as strong in the Australian culture as your football is here - it is a major part of the Australian psyche.
Q: Is this on one of the major TV channels over there?
Yes, I don't know how you work it here in the UK, but in Australia there are four commercial TV stations and one of the TV stations has all the rights with the football league and they do all the broadcasting of football matches; it's that station.
Q: What percentage of accuracy do you get?
It varies. Generally I reckon to get 72 - 75% accuracy. This year's been quite tricky, because Jupiter's gone into Pisces and it has definitely not performed as one would expect. I was suspicious that it would not perform well, because when Jupiter was in Cancer it also did not perform as it should, so I was at least alerted to possible problems. I think there is a lot more research needed on the expression of a planet in rulership or exaltation.
One of the reasons I choose Australian football to use as a research subject for military astrology was that in 1990 a national league (called the AFL),was formed. Thus I know I could collect every single game, and get a complete data set. So I set about collecting this data set without even knowing or understanding the game. There are eight games every weekend and these eight games are played in Perth, Adelaide, Melbourne, Sydney and Brisbane. Two or three games per week may have the same chart, (which proved quite useful) but generally there is a lot of diversity.
I am interested in Guido Bonatti's military astrology from the twelfth century. And having studied the charts for WWI and WWII, I was running out of battle charts! So I thought, 'I need hundreds of battle charts, not just three or four, because three or four will not show me anything.' And that's why I got into football, because it was a convenient thing. I must admit that when I began I absolutely loathed football as a game and as a concept, I just collected up the matches, times and results for the last four or five years, put all that into a database, and applied Bonatti's astrological principles to it.
I applied a positive coding to different astrological features of the game charts. I have a very strict points-scoring system, and the team that scores the most points is the winner. I just started working with that and when it wouldn't work I'd just do a feedback loop a sort of ground theory in terms of letting the data produce the theory.
This way you start to get an idea of why something is not working so you can then form a hypothesis. With that hypothesis you can then go back through your data base applying that new hypothesis. What is really exciting is when you actually apply the hypothesis to a forth coming match and it works. That for me is so exciting, watching the astrology unfold in the game!
Q: Q: Do you foresee a time when astrologers could live from betting shops?
Oh, yes! That's not a hard thing to do. That is a life style that is tempting! (laughs)
What's really interesting - this is speaking again from my own perspective- is that once you have actually got your astrological hypotheses working and as long as you can get better then a 60% prediction rate that is good enough to make money on. Now I don't know what others are doing, but I am reasonably confident around about 72 - 75%. But the next thing you have to learn as an astrologer is something that is not contained in astrology. You have to learn the art of betting which is another whole body of knowledge, the way to actually manage a betting pool. I enjoy this part - it's a hobby!
I think that's quite feasible. But you see, once an astrologer does that and gets all these pieces together, they are not really going to go totally public with it. I think you've probably got some people out there already making quite happy livings using some elements of astrology in their betting. But they are not going to be publishing articles on it. Simple!
Q: One thing that John [Frawley] said was that after he had some publicity - 'astrologer can predict football results' - he had a few people come along and ask him to make predictions and they would put serious money on. He said that when he was put in that situation he lost the ability to make predictions. It was like self-concern suddenly became too strong. He was no longer to stand back and make an objective judgement. Have you ever experienced that?
I haven't experienced that. I haven't had someone coming up wanting me to do the predictions so that they could put serious money on it. Simply, because my football predictions are put on TV every week, so they are public knowledge.
I don't know how I would react to a proposition like that, because actually, I do it for the research work. I really do. I love it. And I want the freedom to research. I have a knee-jerk reaction to being employed by someone to produce that percentage accuracy. For example recently with Jupiter in Pisces I had to make a decision on it and I made the decision in the wrong way, which was fine, because it's my consequences. Now once I had my decision, and it seemed to be the wrong delineation of Jupiter in Pisces I did however stick with my decision. Persisted with it to really see which way it was working. Because one thing you can't do is leap around. Now, if you have someone else putting pressure on you, they just lost $50,000, it clouds the researcher's mind and you cannot approach it as a research thing. If you got something going in a certain direction, you need to persist in your way of working with it. So you can clearly see what it is doing. If it is clearly going to fail you have to let it clearly fail, so you have now absolute proof that Jupiter in Pisces in the sport that I work with is a disaster and so it was for Jupiter in Cancer. So, now I am really confident with that - thus in twelve years time … Ha, ha!
That's the approach I take with it.
So, yes, I think I could understand John. I think it would interfere with the pure research, which is really the push which I am doing this for.
Q: What kind of public response has there been to your TV work?
I get small children stopping me in the street wanting me to sign their footballs … It is really quite amazing. I get recognised in places, because occasionally they'll do a clip on me. So, it would seem that people love it.
The interesting thing is, that there are two avenues where astrology is happily accepted without questions asked. One is financial and one is sport. Because in both cases the individuals who want the information are either (a) financially driven, they don't care how it works, if it's making them money, they are happy - that's the financial - and (b) the sport. They don't care why it works, they just want good tipping.
I find it interesting that one can bump into many levels of prejudices or sniggering, but in the sports-people I don't get any of that whatsoever. When they first approached me to do it I said: 'I'll only do it if you let me do the whole season.' Because the scenario of an astrologer being approached to predict the outcome of a football match - it's a lose-lose situation. Because if they get it right, then they fluked it. If they get it wrong, then there is a nail in the coffin for astrology.
So I insisted I did the whole season. Because I knew that I could have a bad week, but over the whole season I percentaged out quite well. And I knew that. And that is actually what happened. I had confidence in that. I also told them that if they didn't treat it with respect, then I would pull out. And they did treat it with respect.
What they expected to happen was that it would actually go quite badly. But halfway through the season they went public on their TV-show and actually said: 'We thought the astrology would really bomb out and it hasn't. We've got egg all over our face and we think this is fantastic.' So that was a public announcement.
I thought that was sort of like 'score one for the team!!'.
In that sense, what I am saying is that the only prejudice they had was that they thought astrology wouldn't work. They wanted variety for their viewers, obviously. I tried to explain to them that it's military astrology and so on. And in a sense they didn't care, but at the same time they love it because they have military battle clips they put on every now and again. It gives them an angle that they can run with. And they love the fact that I'm a woman and all the other tipsters are men. They love the fact that I had not been to a football match (I have now). I'm a real novelty for them, but also they realise that the tipping works.
I think it is that sort of approach in financial and in sport that really bangs on the door of the establishment.
You see, the other thing, too, and I think this is important, personally I am not out to convert anybody. I am not one of these astrologers that do research to try and prove it to those scientists. I am not interested in that. That's not a valid exercise in my opinion. I far more interested in doing research to actually learn how it works, so I can apply it other things.
If someone thinks that I am a raving nutcase because I do astrology, I don't mind. Also, the standpoint of science is becoming more and more interesting. Science now has different ideas and those who see only a logical causal world are being defined as orthodox scientist … So you know, things are slowly changing.
More importantly I do not think astrology has to prove itself in the scientific model, but that is another whole discussion. Thus, I am not doing this work to actually try and prove astrology. It would take more than one or two tipsters being the best tipsters using astrology for the world to actually come over to accepting astrology, to be honest.
Q: For people who are interested in finding out more about the way you work, I know there was an article in the Astrological Journal where you set out the Bonatti approach. Are there any other sources that we could direct people to?
Not really, no. I use Robert Zoller's translation as the source for the work on Bonatti. The rest of it - well, I have actually designed and built up rather large databases. I now have got a big enough database that I can look at a particular team, look at every match where they are the home team and they've been ruled by Mercury and the Moon applying to such and such …I've got enough data, I can actually pull them all out and then I can check them. And that's the way I do it. Constantly feeding back into the database, and tuning and correcting.
So, the only source really is Zoller's translation of the primary source. I had been working on it before, and why I liked Bonatti's work so much is that I had reached similar conclusions to what he was talking about in the twelfth or thirteenth century. That always impresses me - when empirically you've come to something and then you go back and you actually see someone seven hundred years ago writing the same thing. You think two things: 'Wow, I am on the right track'; and, 'Wow, they're on the right track.'
But Bonatti and sport is just one minor part. That's my hobby-astrology. That's what I do between 2-3 am in the morning.
Q: Are you a workaholic?
I love the subject and once I get involved in something, yes, I really put a lot of energy into it.
Q: One loose end in the sports prediction. Going back to John Frawley's work again. What he says is that his approach really only seems to work for one-off matches. So on Saturday where you get about, say, 150 games kicking off in England all at the same time, it doesn't work.
I totally agree with him.
And Lee Lehman talks a lot about this, well, she does a lot of sports work in the US. I've had the London Sunday Times chasing me for soccer work. I had to decline because it's not the one I'm working on. And I have had a look at it, obviously, but the difficulty that you have here is that, even if you just take the top league, they all seem to have all their matches all at once, so you get a lot of games kicking off the same time. Different parts of England, but England is so small geographically, that all the charts are basically the same, which makes it very difficult.
The same applies for your one-day cricket matches - I started all this with cricket - and they have all these one day cricket matches on a Sunday and they are all basically starting off at the same time, the same sort of chart. That makes it very difficult.
There are two factors that have to be considered when that's the case. One is, how important is the game for the team. If the game is not that relevant on the big picture, then as the relevancy dives down, the potential for the astrologer to predict also reduces. So for example in American baseball, a team plays 170 games in a season. So if they lose a couple, who cares?
So in other words, every game they think 'we'll see if we can win', obviously, but no one is going to get really hysterical if they lose. So it's difficult to work with baseball. But as soon as you get into the world series it works brilliantly - the astrology - to predict.
So that's the first thing. It's the actual 'how much do they want to win'. Now in Australian rules football, they only play 22 games in a season - and every game is absolutely vital. So that's the first thing; I think I was lucky to have at my finger tips a game like that. The second thing is that, when a lot of charts are the same, there is a way of splitting them; if you build a big enough database, you can actually run tests on individual teams. I've found in Australia (and I'm willing to accept that the Australian game may be different) that the teams will have a liking for particular planetary rulerships, and a real disliking for other ones. So having worked out the charts, the next thing I do is a scan: for example, a particular team - if they are ruled by Mercury and at home, they won 98% of their games. So obviously, I score extra points for them if they are [ruled by] Mercury.
So we can get three or four games happening, all with the same chart; but with information from the database you can add the particular preferences of individual teams - they might like being ruled by a particular planet, or dislike it or be neutral; by the time you add that in, you can get four or five games which start at the same time but you can call different results.
That works well - but it's only going to work if the game is really important to the team. The difficulties I had when I looked at one-day cricket in this country (where you have something like twelve or sixteen cricket games happening on a Sunday, every Sunday through summer) were: (a) Unless you've actually studied a couple of thousand games and really start understanding different teams astrological preferences, it is going to be very difficult to work with that; (b) how valid, how important is each game? Now in Australia with the one-day cricket games, they only play about fourteen. So as an astrologer it is of benefit that the population is so low in Australia, because the actual number of games in a sporting season is greatly reduced. And because the country is so big and they move the games around, we get different charts! We've got three different time zones, so if they play games in Perth and Sydney [at the same time], you still get totally different charts.
Q: The way John does it is to assign the ascendant to the favourites…
That's a very valid way when you have that situation. Yes, that's definitely a way I've thought about it. You could do it by odds. I don't think it's anything to do with the toss, or who kicks the ball first. I've run lots of options on that, and it doesn't work like that. Also you could do it by how the game is billed - in Australia the home team is always the second team listed; in America it is always the first team listed. What is it in this country?
Q: The home team is listed first.
So you see, with the World Cup - if you had Brazil versus Sweden. If there is an established formula for how soccer games are billed, then you can run with that.
I need more time! There aren't enough hours in the day, because you also have to make a living. But it is fascinating.
On predictive astrology:
Q: With the symbolism of the Eagle and the Lark - what was it that prompted you to think in those terms?
I've always been a predictive astrologer. I'm not an accountant on the side or anything, no-one supports me, I earn my living as an astrologer. When you earn your living as an astrologer, particularly a predictive astrologer, you eat better if you do good predictions. It's really quite a simple formula!
That's a very motivating force. I think a lot of astrologers or rather their astrology would really benefit from having to put themselves on the line. What this pressure does is it gets rid of any "fluff". If you have a pet theory but it does not work in your field work with your clients you soon drop it.
So in doing my predictive work for clients, I thought a lot about the concept of prediction. That drove me to think a lot about what fate is - because an astrologer can only predict something which is in the fate part of the life, not something which belongs to the free-will part of the life. As I teach the students, if you want to be a predictive astrologer, you have to have a model of fate. It might not be right, but you have to have in your head how you think fate works, and how much it dictates and how much it governs in a person's life; what its role is in a person's life. Because you can only predict what is fated.
Therefore, one of the things I put a lot of time into was developing an opinion about fate. That enables me to know what I can predict and what I can't predict. For example - with my model of fate, I am confident that I can not predict what colour socks you are going to wear on a particular day. But I'm extremely confident that I can predict the timing, the nature, and the potential outcomes of events happening in your life.
The list of outcomes is presented to you, in my model, like a multiple-choice list. And there are two components in you which are not represented in the chart. These components are: (1) Your previous history - your tendency to make decisions a particular way through your past experiences; (2) This rather elusive little thing called free will - which is a touch of chaos theory!
So the cosmos may give you a list - let's say it's a Saturn transit. Then you've got a list which reads, 'Go to jail, do not pass go; get caught for tax evasion; get a promotion in your job; your father dies….'. So you've got a list ranging from the really difficult expression of a Saturn transit right through to a very positive expression. When the astrologer sees that, if they are working blind, they can get the timing - and through using technique, that is all they can get (with my model of fate, anyway). It is in fact a form of soft determinism or what is known in philosophy as a compatibilist position - there is determinism but it does not over rule one's morel responsibility or personal choices.
Once the astrologer starts to talk to the client, and starts to ascertain the client's history, then they can reduce that list considerably. So if the client is someone who has always handled Saturn well (or at least is trying), then the astrologer would probably favour the client getting the new job,… one can reduce the list of option! But you still have free-will So my approach with a client is to apply effort to technique, then when the astrology techniques provide the short list of possible outcomes I, with the client, I'll take an intuitive leap. I may say to a client, 'Given this, and given what we've been talking about, my best guess is that you will do this…' To me this is the story of the Eagle and the Lark, the eagle is the technique and the lark in the intuitive leap. And I've grown up with this myth; you know, it's just one of those things that's always been there for me, rattling around in the bottom of my brain so it was natural to use it as a metaphor for my thinking in predictive astrology.
You can get a student, and they may be a very gifted astrologer, but their technique is really bad. I believe what you have to do to that student is to say, 'Let's put your intuition on hold for a couple of years; let's go back and learn the techniques, understand them, learn how to apply them, learn how to think about them, develop a model of fate, work out what you can and can't do. Then, with all of that in place, apply that. Do all of that hack work, and once you have laid it out in a way so that you can read it (that's also technique, the presentation) - once you've got all of that, then use your intuition. I point out to them - the astrological student - that they may be able to leap so far with their intuition but, if they can use technique as far as they can, then and only then take their intuitive leap from this better position then - wow! ….they can do far better work.
Now I do not think there is any predictive astrologer who doesn't take that leap. The interesting thing with sport is that you can't really take this leap - which is great. But when you are working with a client it is different. I distinguish very much between the eagle and the lark - in terms of what we do know - timing and quality provided by the eagle - and what we can only do an informed guess at - the exact outcome - which is provided by the lark, the intuitive leap
I wrote the book The Eagle and the Lark for the reason most people write a book - because I couldn't find what I wanted in other texts. I'm not saying that I'm better than others. It was just that I was teaching students, and I couldn't find any predictive astrology books with discussions of fate, I couldn't find any discussion about this model of 'Let's work on the technique and then apply it'. I might be doing a great injustice to some people - this is a typical Jupiterian grand statement here - but it seemed to me that there was a tendency amongst astrologers to think, if something works once, let's make it work forever, a tendency to generalise from one case study to a grand statement for all charts. And I do not think it works like that. As I said right at the beginning, if you are going to earn your living as an astrologer you need to get your approach and philosophy right and you need to be clear how astrology is working from one client to the next. Just because one client has difficulties with a particular configuration it does not mean that the next client will.
So I wrote that book for my students, really. It's great that it's done so well, it's about to go into its second print. The publishers always hated the title, and they are going to change it - they're making it, A Textbook of Predictive Astrology - the Eagle and the Lark. Well, I preferred it the other way round. It's like the fixed stars book - I wanted to call it, Fixed Stars Stained Glass and they said, 'No! We can't do this!' I have these romantic titles, and they have realism.
So to me, this idea of the eagle and the lark actually sums up the astrologer's role; they should apply a tremendous amount of technique, and be very good at that, and push it as hard as they can - and then apply the lark. The advantage of doing that is that, if you get a prediction wrong - and we all do - you can then quickly decide, 'Was that the lark part, or the eagle part?' If it was the lark part you can say, 'Fine - I'll make a note of that'. Once I've had the eagle go wrong. Seriously wrong. What I did when the client left was that I locked the doors, I got into my computer - and four days later I emerged. I pulled it apart and came up with a whole new theory about solar returns and how I was going to work with them. My fault was my technique of how I worked with solar returns.
I didn't let it go until I'd solved it, and that totally changed the way I work with solar returns. So what I'm saying is that when you are very clear about these three things - your model of fate, your technique, and your intuitive leap - you can apply feedback. But if you're not clear you can't apply feedback. As a predictive astrologer, if you don't apply feedback, you may as well go and take up cooking.
Now cooking's a fine profession! But the point is, you're not an astrologer if you can't apply feedback. You're not going to grow in your art and your craft.
I've adapted my model of fate, because sometimes you find that you have predicted something that your model of fate doesn't allow. So therefore, in my opinion, if that happens two or three times, you must go back and adjust your model of fate. (As I say to my students, that's the astrologer's F- four-letter word!) So you must adjust that to fit the empirical evidence in front of your eyes.
So that's a long answer to your question 'Why the eagle and the lark', but to me it actually summarises my approach to predictive work.
On chaos theory, fractals and astrology:
Q: Talking about fate - could you label your beliefs about the world and the way it works?
The meaning of life, in other words! We could focus it down to why I think astrology works. I think what is really good about astrology is that it doesn't have a central guru, so that's why it lives on and on; it's not dependent upon one particular person, and that's good.
I come from a scientific background - that's my orientation, so I tend to try and understand the world through that kind of framework. I never understood why astrology worked, until the last ten years when Mandelbrot came onto the scene with his Mandelbrot sets; and then chaos theory came in. Now obviously this is a personal belief, but I'm now much more comfortable with astrology because it fits in very comfortably with the whole theory of fractals and Mandelbrot sets. A lot of orthodox science doesn't accept that, but once it does accept the concept of fractals and Mandelbrot sets, then it would be a real disaster if astrology didn't work!
If we take Bell's theorem from around 1994, and link that to Mandelbrot and fractals, then really it has to work; there has to be an interconnectedness without scale in time or in size.
It's not that I needed to know how it worked; I've got enough Pisces and 12th house in me to accept something on faith! I can believe my eyes, and I can believe the world around me - which supports astrology quite a lot. But I must admit that in the last ten years it has been quite comforting for the depths of my mind to play with fractals and Mandelbrot sets, and to recognise that it is in this ballpark that astrology lives. [Later note: This idea has developed since this interview in 1998 as Bernadette did her Master's thesis in chaos theory and astrology in 2004 and more recently has now produced her book on the subject 'Astrology, a place in chaos' (2006)].
I think that the whole concept of orthodox science as we know it is going to crumble. It might take fifty or a hundred years, but it is going to happen - because there are so many band-aids on it. You know how they once thought that the planets' orbits were circular - they had to be, because of the eight spheres. It was a whole world-view, which was a world-view of God as well; theological astronomy, really. If they weren't perfect circles then they couldn't have the eight spheres and the whole theology broke down; so there was tremendous resistance to changing the concept of the perfectly circular orbit. So what they had, as you are well aware, was all these epicycles - band-aids, more and more band-aids!
So the whole thing disintegrated with Kepler - and the whole theology had to go, the whole world-view had to change to incorporate the ellipse.
That's where we are at with orthodox science now - there are many band-aids stuck on in order to make things fit. I think what is going to happen - fifty or a hundred years from now, I don't know the timing - is that the whole lot is going to collapse, and the major philosophy is going to be based on fractals and Mandelbrot theory - and the interconnectedness of everything, and the cyclic nature of everything - and how things are reproducing at many levels without scale, time or size.
That whole theory is so simple! The whole philosophy can be reduced to a simple three-part formula 'x + y = z' where the equal sign is not really an equal sign but is a sign of iteration - feedback. Which is really just astounding.
I think that then science as we know it will change and we'll get a world-view based more on fractals; and when that happens, I believe astrology is going to be totally at ease. The big problem astrology has had is that it's the only 'science' (in inverted commas) that couldn't go over to reductionism. You couldn't do it, because if you went over to orthodox science - well, astrology is destroyed if we break it into little parts. The very central standing stone of astrology is the interconnectedness of things, so it cannot be reduced to parts, you may be able to play around with positive coding for football matches but not a person.
Astrology therefore could not go over and jump on the new bandwagon or reductionism, so when a philosophy can't comply with the orthodox view it tends to be labelled as evil - but I think that's going to shift, but maybe not in our life time.
I therefore don't think that astrologers have to go to science and prove themselves. I think astrologers just have to stand where they are, because I think science is coming to us.
So I have no desire to prove astrology to anybody. I really believe in education for astrologers and exam systems for if astrologers can be taught how to apply research work and how to be sensible and look at things with a clear, scientific mind (in a sense, although I do not mean in terms of the scientific method!) that's all they have to do - and science will come to them.
I'm an optimist!
On her own birth chart:
Q: Having mentioned twelfth house - would you be willing to have your birth details published?
Yes, I don't mind. Make sure you get the time-zone right - what they do sometimes in publications is to change my birth-time to match the time-zone they would prefer to have me born in (because I was born in a half-hour time zone). I think that's dangerous! But the Americans don't seem to be able to handle half-hour time zones.
So, I don't have problems with that. If someone is good enough to read a chart then I'm quite happy for them to do it. I think most astrologers have ethics, and if they don't then they're probably not going to be able to read the chart anyway!
I was born on the 10th March 1950, and I was born about 11.13 (we always crib a few seconds, don't we?) about 11.13 pm in Adelaide. The time zone is nine and a half hours east. The latitude is 34.55 south, the longitude is 138.34 east.
Q: A very full answer! Is there anything in particular in your chart that you feel explains why you have taken the path that you have within astrology?
Yes. It's more of a medieval answer…. my chart, like many people's charts, has quite a lot of angularity and a certain rank of fame in it; it's got quite a good doryphory…
Q: A what?
The doryphory is when planets are supporting or helping the main luminary - it quickly defines in the chart the person's ability to achieve things with their life. So, given the angularity and the doryphory that is in my chart, one can see that I'm going to do something with my life. However, my Mercury is in Pisces and my Sun is opposed by Saturn, Mercury is in the fourth house and Saturn is in the tenth. Mercury in Pisces is in detriment as well as in fall, and so what that tends to imply is that, if you look at it in a strictly medieval sense, the chart is successful and achieves rank and status, but it is damaged in some way.
This doesn't actually talk about astrology. But I can see that my work is in the field of astrology, which is what I love, and yet you walk out there in flatland and everybody else thinks you're an idiot. So I only have any kind of recognition or status within my tribe (to use your word) - and that is a tribe which has very little status in the world.
So therefore this is, in my mind, the combination of a chart that has the rank of fame, but with one of its major planets to do with that rank of fame being in such a bad zodiacal condition that it is effective - but in a minor field. In other words I'm not winning the Pulitzer prize as a writer of fiction, I'm not winning the Nobel prize as a scientist - I'm an astrologer doing the work I love, publishing in that field, and - I think - producing good work; getting really nice feedback from my tribe, but my tribe is an extremely minority tribe that are considered blithering idiots by everybody else!
It's very humbling; all astrologers should recognise that. You know, there is no ego in astrology. You can't! You have to be there for the passion, and that's it. If people are running ego-trips in astrology, they really should change professions because the big picture is that most of the world thinks of them as insignificant.
You look at Rob Hand - he is brilliant, and the work he is doing is brilliant. In any other profession he would have a lot more recognition in the broader community. I might be doing him a disservice here; I'm a great friend of Rob Hand's, and I respect him immensely but I think he'd be the first to admit that, although he does all this wonderful work in the astrological community with his translations and so on, that he's not known outside the community. I think his Mercury's in Sag - so there you go!
As to astrology - I have a stationery Uranus that forms a water trine to that Mercury, so there is the inspiration and the intuitive energy…. But it's actually quite an insult to say to an astrologer, 'You're highly intuitive'. When I was first doing good predictive work, some astrologers - as in any community - got their noses out of joint and started putting it round that I was actually psychic. It's quite an insult to an astrologer because it's saying that they're not really doing it by astrology, they're doing it by some other means - it really undermines astrology.
So I would suggest to all astrologers that they sit on their intuition. We've all got it - flatlanders have it! It's there, it's part of the human make-up.
Q: I heard that some astrologers said exactly that of Liz Greene - 'She's not really doing astrology, she's psychic'
It's an insult, it really is. To say it of an astrologer is to say that they have not studied the technique, they are not doing the ancient craft, and they are guessing their way along. I don't know about Liz Greene, but I think she does good work. But I know that myself, and the South Australian community, we study the craft of astrology in earnest. And you ('you' meaning England) do as well, acknowledge the craft.
On traditional and modern astrology:
Q: Speaking of 'craft': there's this rather spurious dichotomy that's sometimes posited between modern and traditional astrology - where do you stand on that?
That division won't be there in ten years time - the traditionals are going to win! (laughs long and hard)
Q: Do you then think of yourself as a traditional astrologer?
Before Project Hindsight I used to sit in the closet and read ancient translations. Indeed, in The Eagle and the Lark I had to keep a lot of things under wraps - talking there about the ruler of the fifth being beneficial in its transits (as is the ruler of the ninth), whilst the rulers of the eighth, twelfth and sixth could be very difficult. I had to be very careful with that, and indeed some people here in England got very upset at those comments. But it is what works! It is empirically correct.
And that comes from much more of a traditional type of source. I'm not a classical astrologer. (whispering) I don't like Lilly! (laughs)
There are two great themes in astrology that were around before the Greeks. We had an early form of astrology coming out of Babylonia - the Egyptians didn't do astrology as we know it, but they did a tremendous amount of star work, so all the fixed star work I've done is based in that. The Lieber Hermatis is a wonderful insight into pagan astrology before the Christians got to it. There's no author to it, it's an anthology - and it's a wonderful collection of insights into the way of thinking, the astrological mindset then, but I digress.
The Greeks took on the astrology of the Babylonians and they "Greeked" it. What they did was really wonderful on one level, but disastrous on another - they made everything logical and neat. You know if you read Ptolemy, his reason for creating another set of terms is really quite breathtaking - nowadays he'd be shot down in flames: 'This is not logical, so we'll just change it to make it logical' - he totally wipes out all these ancient terms and goes with another set.
Now Lilly is based very much on Ptolemy… (I can hear people screaming at me, so I apologise in advance! Let me preface my comments by saying that these are my own conclusions, I am not a historical scholar). Because Ptolemy became such an eminent name a whole stream of astrology picked up on his work. I suspect that Lilly has very much come from the Ptolemaic scheme. But what escaped Ptolemy (or moved off at a tangent) was a whole body of astrology that moved into the Arabic or Islamic scheme - Abu Ma'shar, Masha'Allah and so on. This, in my opinion, is wonderful astrology. Guido Bonatti, who is a thirteenth century Italian astrologer, seems to have built his astrology on the basis of this Islamic or Arabic philosophy of astrology.
Now when the crusades happened, there was such an anti-Islam attitude through all things. It was a bit like during the first world war when, in Australia, we changed a lot of the town names from German names to more English versions. There was such an anti-Islam attitude that astrology was either stripped of a great deal of its Arabic or Islamic functions or only the classical Ptolemaic model was considered pure or correct.
Later I think it was in the seventeenth century, Jean Baptiste Morin stripped a lot more techniques out of astrology as he decided that a lot of it was waffle, and left us with the very bare bones which was what became known as 'traditional astrology'. So by the time of the nineteenth century astrology was in a pretty black and white form. Now this is all changing as astrology is going through a form of re-birth, as it has done in the past, and this is stimulated by Project Hindsight and the other translations which are translating all this work without making judgement.
For me personally I've have focused on the work of Abu Ma'shar, Masha'Allah, Bonatti and Omar - this whole line of astrological thinking; and the Lieber Hermatus. I've found in there as well (and Zoller does lectures on this, this isn't my original work) - that those astrologers captured the soul far better than I think psychological astrology does. They were banned from writing about the soul - the establishment at the time said, 'We own the soul, you own the body - you are not allowed to say anything about the soul'. So those earlier astrologers wrote it between the lines. But if you really look at it, you see that they have ways of looking at a chart and defining the person's version of God. Defining how (and whether) that individual will be able to gain satisfaction from the spiritual life, and will they be able to fulfil their spiritual values, and what are their spiritual values?
When you apply these techniques, I find it far more breathtaking than anything that I have seen or heard any Jungian or psychological astrologer doing in terms of the person's spirituality. So that sways me to this style of thinking. I'm an astrologer, I'm not a psychologist. I'm not a therapist; I'm an astrologer. An astrologer wants to be able to look at a chart and say, 'The potential for this chart to be a serial killer is very high'. I don't want to look at a chart and say, 'This person has mother problems'. - I know that I am over exaggerating or simplify the matter but hopefully you follow what I mean.
To summarise: What really pushed me into examining my own astrology, deconstructing it and then rebuilding in more of an Islamic/Arabic/Bonatti mould, was that I did have a client who was a killer. I saw him about four times over four years. One day the police rang me, and this guy was a murderer. I had not spotted even the potential of this in his chart (banging the table for emphasis), and that drew me up really fast. I thought, 'What am I really doing… what the hell am I doing here?'
That was about four years ago. Hindsight was happening - I'd basically given them my credit card and said, 'Send me everything!' because I'd always been interested in ancient astrological thinking.
So basically, after this event, I deconstructed my astrology piece by piece, quite thoroughly, and rebuilt it again. I stopped seeing clients for a while so I could do that, and started working much more on predictive work… so, yes, my astrology has changed dramatically since I wrote The Eagle and the Lark. Fortunately, however, that book covers the predictive side and I'm still happy with that! Now I would add a few more chapters, because I have added in a lot of medieval predictive techniques - firdaria, almutens and so on.
So I wouldn't call myself a traditional astrologer, not at all. In my mind, 'traditional' is this thin line that's left after all of this filtering. But I call myself a medieval astrologer, and am happy with that title. What I do do now is, I am aware of all these techniques and I have card index files because they are like algorithms you have to work with. I am aware of all those, and when I sit down with a client it is this medieval astrology which is active in my mind, but I now filter it through a psychological model before I talk about it to the client. I find that my astrology has tightened up a lot, so the client and I can talk about their finances, and how they can invest, what would work for them, when to be careful - apart from their inner reality, we can also now talk about their outer world, and what they can do to make that work better, and what to avoid.
I'm not a fatalist - like, 'You will lose money full stop' - these things can be negotiated.
On the working life of a professional astrologer:
Q: How is your astrological time split between different things - consultations, writing, teaching?
Yes, that's it! That's how it's split, exactly right!
I'm co-principal of Astro Logos - the other principal is Darrelyn Gunzburg, it's a private business that we have. It has an enrolment of about 130 - 140 students or so, and that takes a lot of time. There is open learning, and about seven classes a week have to happen, and all the admin - so this probably takes about three days if you total it up, through the week. Then I used to see about fifteen clients a week - I did that for twelve years, then basically had a burn-out in '93. I got very ill, and every time I nearly got well I'd have another relapse, so they kept me in hospital for about a month. Every time I had a relapse I'd think, 'Obviously I haven't made the right decision yet!'
So eventually the decision was that I was going to cut my client load right back, and change my whole life-style. Which is what I did. So now I only see clients I've seen before, because - to be honest - I've become exhausted with reading charts, bridging that gap with the individual and helping them step forward into a greater sense of awareness. Also, because Darrelyn and I have trained so many astrologers - and some of them are very good, in my opinion, I'm really proud of them and they have surpassed us in areas. It's wonderful so I can pass on new clients to these new astrologers.
I used to think, if someone called me up and really needed to see an astrologer, that there was no-one I could refer them on to, so I had to see them; whereas now, if someone rings me, I feel very confident when I pass them on to someone else. Probably I refer about 70% of the work that comes to me, because there's just too much.
So I like now to see about four clients a week - old clients, predictive work and so on - and that would normally take up a day or so out of the week. Then I write… but at the moment, I'm not going to write anything, ever again! Because that book [Brady's Book of Fixed Stars] was only finished - with art work and everything - last Christmas. Also, I do Jigsaw - Jigsaw 2.0 has just come out, and that's an immense amount of work. I wrote the manual for that over Easter - don't go to bed, just write manuals, you know?
So about two thirds of my time is taken up with earning a living in terms of teaching or clients. Then I always try to have one day a week which is for my creative work. Quite often it comes down to just coping with doing the admin and tax paperwork to be honest! But the way that things work for me is that I'll get an idea, and work on it at the very end of the day. I usually work until midnight or one o'clock in the morning most days. TV is a luxury, though I do enjoy it - I do weightlifting in front of football matches, to try and keep fit!
I'm quite happy to do that. Darrelyn works with the same sort of workload as well. Quite often there's an hour or two at the end of the day when you can put the deadlines to one side, even if they are screaming at you, and tinker or play with things. That is what I love doing! It's a busman's holiday - I love doing astrology when I've got time off!
I've got computing skills, and feel very blessed that I've got those skills; so I can construct databases to help me look at whatever it is I'm working on. About 80% of it ends up in the bin, but what will happen every now and again is that something will take a stronger root - like fiddling with the Bonatti techniques. The fixed star work - ten years of tinkering, tinkering, playing with it, exploring it. Then what will happen is, a particular project will actually send down deeper roots and start to become more inspired - and once that starts to happen, then it starts demanding a bit more time, which I'll give it without necessarily thinking that anything productive will come from it in the end; I'll upgrade its status.
I've got several projects which are at that level now, which may never go anywhere, but I enjoy them. If it really starts to take off - I happen to trip across a nice piece of research when I'm in the library, or something that adds a component - in other words, and I think a lot of astrologers would agree with this, the cosmos starts to tell you which project you should be working on. So then, if it has gone full-barrel, it has to be scheduled in. So what I'll try and do - with the fixed stars book, for instance - is to take a month off at a time, to try and get the foundation stones in. I might take that time off, lock the front gate and not answer the phone; I'm quite a recluse, particularly when I'm doing something like that. Or I'll go away with my laptop, into the mountains or wherever, and I'll hide and I'll write.
But I'm not one of these people who can produce work quickly. I'm in awe of them, I think it's wonderful that they can produce a book in twelve months or something. What happens with me is that it usually takes about five to six years, because I'll be writing and then go back and research more, and then re-write and re-write… and then you write it again! What did we do without computers?!
So once a project has decided that it is going to be a book, or software, then it becomes a full thing. With the fixed star book, I decided that it needed the paran maps for every set of stars. And every one of those was about seventeen hours work, because I had to do all the maths by hand. So I'd teach a astrology class, get home at about ten o'clock at night, then my schedule was that I'd simply work on one of those. Every single night of the week, until I got it done.
It's interesting - this is a common saying, because it is so true - when you've got an inspiration and you're going with it, it really is 5% inspiration and 95% perspiration. With any creative project that you're working on, it gets to a point where you hate it! And it is a tremendous amount of work; any astrologer ever writing anything will say that you've got to like being alone, you've got to like not socialising, you've got to be reclusive and you've got to do the work.
I think it's a shame, because some astrologers have really terrific ideas, but they lack the heavy Saturn to get there in the end. I've got this huge Saturn in my chart, and that won't allow me not to get there, it drives me from behind. It's the only thing I have in an earth sign, and it's in the 10th house - there's this T-square of Moon, Sun and Saturn… it dictates my whole life, I'm aware of that. Once I start something it won't tolerate me not finishing it.
I'm actually quite secretive in lots of ways too - because I have all these projects that I don't want my Saturn to get involved in, so I'll keep those quiet. Once they go public, my Saturn gets involved… so on one level I have all these toys that I play with…
So about half my time is devoted to earning a living as an astrologer - sometimes it varies a little bit, but about half is devoted to my creative work as an astrologer. But as I said, about 80% of that will end in the garbage bin - that's fine, I don't mind that.
On doing consultations:
Q: When it comes to doing a consultation, what do you look at before they arrive?
I could give you the politically correct answer, or I could give you the truth - which would you prefer? (laughs) The politically correct answer is that I plot up the charts - natal chart and the predictive work - and then make notes and check the client files, then do the consultation. That's the politically correct answer, and it's total fantasy.
What I would do - if it is a new client - I like to hand-draw the chart. I print it out on the computer, and in three minutes flat I have the chart, all the transits and progressions I want, the solar returns I want, the firdaria I want, the transit graphs, lunar phasing - these are the tools I use.
Then I like to draw up the natal chart on a chart blank. Although I'm not consciously delineating it while I'm drawing it - just copying it from the computer chart - that seems to upload the file in my mind; and I like to do that the hour before the client comes. It only takes about twenty minutes. The other reason I draw it up is that I feel it's a person's mandala, and people like to have it laid out nicely - it's a marketing thing in other words, because I am trying to earn my living as an astrologer.
I won't actually form opinions, but I will then sit down with the client and read it with them. That works well, I'm pleased with that. Since I deconstructed my astrology and put it back together again, bringing in all the medieval techniques, one thing I now do is to note a few things and I may look a few things up, but it's in terms of medieval algorithms because you can't have them all in your head.
But to be honest I don't do a lot of work before they come. I lay out the predictive work, because one need to be organised with that - when I've have their transits and progressions laid out on what I call a 'time map' - I can see it then. I have a five-year transit sheet so I can see if they're about to be hit by a Mack truck a few years down the track - because you've got to talk about that then. I do about twenty years of lunar phasing, because I think that's just so fundamental to where the client's at.
So, after looking at the chart, I'll give them what I call a landscape - you know, 'Let's look at where you are in the picture of your life' (that's the lunar phasing) and then I'll just zoom in to the particular year. Usually, by the time I get to reading that particular year, we've done it all, we've got all the pieces into place.
A consultation like that takes about an hour and a half. Anything longer than that and I'm no longer effective.
For predictive work only, not doing the chart, then maybe forty-five minutes to an hour. Mainly because you need to build a rapport with the client, find out how it's going. I really like clients to bring their predictive work back, and at the beginning of any session I'll say, 'Let's look at what I did for you last time, and let's examine it together - was I right, was I wrong?' And I say to them, 'I don't mind if I'm wrong - I need to know, so don't feel embarrassed. Tell me if I got it wrong, because if I got it wrong I need to look at it.' That's a very fruitful discussion - because sometimes I have got it wrong, and I then need to know if it's the eagle or the lark. Sometimes I've just worded it incorrectly for the client - that's important for me to know. So we'll spend a quarter of an hour backtracking over the last lot of predictive work I've done, and how it's worked, and what has happened, and the timing. This gives me more insight into that particular client, so I can do better predictive work for them later.
As you can see I'm always backtracking, always - and you have to, I really believe in that. I pound it into the students back home - 'Feedback, feedback, feedback!' and they think, 'Oh no, Bernadette's going on again…' But, I'm proud to say that I think Astro Logos does produce good technical and predictive astrologers. We're not afraid of that word ['predictive'], not at all. As I said to you, I'm not a therapist, I'm not a psychologist - nothing wrong with these professions, but I don't want to see a client once a week or once every six months - I'll refuse to see them, and only see them once a year, if that. I don't want dependency; can't stand it.
On Medieval astrology techniques - Life force:
Q: The medieval algorithms you mentioned, that you look at - what are they?
Well, I call them algorithms, coming from a computing background. They are formulae or lists, for example Firmicus Maternus will give a way of looking at wealth in a chart - 'look at this, look at the dispositor of that, look to see if the Moon is aspecting it' - or whatever. So he will give a series of steps which you take, and you can follow that through with the chart. Then that gives you a planet to work with (or whatever) to delineate wealth from the chart.
I call it in my head an 'algorithm' - a series of steps. Most writers have these different methodologies for different things - Ptolemy's rank of fame is probably his most famous one. I love this - Firmicus does 'level of slavery' and Ptolemy does 'rank of fame' - so we have the Roman talking about levels of slavery, and the Greek talking about fame! You've got to use both, because they're like both sides of the Bell curve.
One that I've studied a lot is the length of life - not for 'You are going to die next week!' Because if you really read what they are saying, they'll give you the whole formulas and algorithms and methodologies and then they'll say, 'However, he may get run over by a chariot' - so what you are really looking at with that work is that you are looking at the life-force in a chart. If you think about it, one thing that modern medicine has done is that it hasn't extended our life-expectancy, but it has got more of us there. The astrology hasn't changed, the planets haven't changed. So therefore, you could say that's an argument against the techniques for assessing the length of life. But what I would say is that these techniques look at the life-energy, and there are quite a few people who can live on once they have run out of time - once the charge in the batteries has gone - because modern medicine gets them there. Which is good.
So that's a precise algorithm. It's a lecture I do (I've just done it in the States), and it's an hour of solid, crunchy, technical astrology - I use lots of overheads and I don't take questions until the end, because there is too much to get through. Everybody sits there writing furious notes, and you can feel the wheels spinning and the rubber burning! Everybody loves it, but it is not a beginner lecture!
That's a wonderful technique, because it gives you the ability to look at a chart and say, 'This child's got problems with their health, and it's serious'. It's not the standard things you think of in modern astrology; you can look at an apparently normal-looking chart, but as soon as you apply these algorithms it shows that there's a huge potential crisis of health.
The modern use is that information is that if the parent knows about it, then when the child starts to develop symptoms they can act straight away, at the first early symptoms. So that's a really valid thing. Also, when you start studying that, you start to see different things: everybody in their life has a health crisis every now and again. I'm not a medical astrologer, but this gives you another insight as a predictive astrologer of what to look for in terms of health crises.
I have talked to clients in terms of, 'Why don't you get income protection insurance just for this period of time?' - these are very real and tangible things you can work with. If the client knows that it is a serious time, then they can take that headache (or whatever) seriously; it's a very valid technique, and it's an interesting one. However technique around life force can really stir other astrologers up! (laughing). It's such a taboo subject! But everywhere I have done the lecture, astrologers have been really pleased. These are real and valuable tools that an astrologer can use to look at the life force in the chart - is there a problem with it, when is that problem going to be? They are important issues for a client to understand.
Q: I know you said this is an hour and a half of solid, serious astrology, but is it possible to sum up the techniques that you use?
Most ancient and medieval authors will devote probably the first half of their first book to the question - because the question of whether a child would live or not was so important, with maybe an infant mortality of over 50% . Back then you wanted to know whether you needed to have another heir, and also for your old age you needed to have children who had grown into adults to look after you. So, if you place yourself in the position of a medieval client you begin to realise why they (the astrologer of the day) devoted so much of their work to it.
Each astrological author varies a little in their technique. Now, I have no Latin or Greek so I'm reliant upon the translations; but I think I've read every translation that has been put into English of these astrological techniques. I have also made a study of the different methodologies employed and in a sense synthesised them to look at the common threads and the not-so-common threads, the variations. This is where you start one of these hobby things at three in the morning! I've taken that and applied it, not in terms of doing lots of research and databases, but just applying it at a daily level, and applied it to a small database of SIDS - [Sudden Infant Death Syndrome]. I've refined it just a little bit - been a little less stringent with some of the rules, changed some of the orbs a little bit, and that's given me a package which I'm happy with. But I've only been happy with it for the last eighteen months.
I first presented it at the Australis Congress in January '97 in Adelaide. The Congress Press is just about to produce the Congress Papers - they'll be coming out in the next few months, and it's all written up in that.
In a nutshell - the first thing they would do is, they have a system for 'will the child live past the age of twelve?' You have a first differentia chart - the child dies at birth, is still-born, or doesn't take nourishment - by the time you've worked out the technique, the child however would be dead, so you don't often work with that one! You have a second differentia chart, which is that the child will not be reared - that is up to four years old. As Rob Hand says, in the ages of man that is the period of the Moon.
Then you have a third differentia - This is a chart that does not live past the age of twelve years old, or rather the first difficult time after twelve years old tends to bring the death of the person. Then there is the fourth differentia chart - they die as an adult, but young. Fifth differentia (they don't call it fifth differentia) - the person lives a long life.
Basically, a first or second differentia chart is shown by the main luminary being in a most difficult condition. If the main luminary is receiving a hard aspect from a non-dignified malefic, as well as the ascendant (which is the other life-force point) receiving an aspect from a non-dignified malefic, and if at the same time the depositor of the main luminary is also in trouble zodiacally, then basically the child has extreme difficulties with survival. This works, form my own work I am confident that it is a valid technique.
There are, of course all sorts of issues around orbs and the like. If the new born child is not a first or second differentia chart then one looks for a hyleg. If they don't have a hyleg, they have a third differentia chart and have problems after twelve years old. If they do have a hyleg, then you go into hyleg - find it, and then find the alcoccoden. The hyleg is the giver of life, the alcoccoden gives the length of life. You then go through that whole process of measuring the length of life.
The thing that this technique has really taught me is the importance of the main luminary, the degree rising, and the importance of dispositorship as showing the actual energy, the actual life-force in a person. Being able to read that from a chart and understand it I have found most useful. If you have an adult coming to see you and you see that the main luminary is in difficulty (it could be getting a square from Pluto) then you look for the dispositor - the dispositor is like your big brother, so if your big brother is nice and strong they can help, whereas if the dispositor is weak it's like your big brother is drunk in the corner and can't help you.
So understanding that is important; so to is understanding the importance of aspects to the ascendant, which also show the vitality of the person. Being able to form a judgement about that before the client comes tell me a little about where the client is coming from. It's part of the background which enables you to delineate the rest of the chart. Life-force is very important; if you don't have a lot of it, you aren't going to use your Mars in Aries the same way as someone else would.
It's interesting, because there is this very precise series of techniques, and they are not that hard to learn, you can almost start to eyeball them off the chart, but you do need to keep checking things.
This is not a classical technique - this is not Lilly, I have gone back a few steps to the earlier part of our conversation. And I think that is a important addition to modern astrology. The difference is - they [astrologers of ages past] might have said, 'You'll be dead next week'; we can discuss with the client their energy, their life-force, what they should do, how they should look after themselves, times of crisis, and how they can use their free will to try and manipulate what is 'written', how to get the best out of it.
So it may sound in this conversation as if I'm quite fatalistic, but I'm not at all. Because if you really know what fate is written, then and only then can you start manipulating it. But if you want to deny its existence, how can you start to control it?
Q: You said that whole talk is about to be published?
Yes, in the Congress Papers. Every four years, the South Australian Group produces an Astrological Congress with precise themes (we've only done it once so far, but we plan for it to happen every four years). This last one was on medieval as well as mythic, which we thought was an interesting marriage. So we had speakers like Demetra George, Rob Hand and Robert Zoller - we really felt that we had the cream of those two streams, and for three days we did nothing but these things, which was just wonderful. The next step is that all of these authors have written up their lectures. Demetra George didn't want to because she had published a lot in her books, which is fair enough, but Rob Hand and Bob Zoller both wrote up every one of their talks, and a lot of other [speakers did] as well. This is all going into the 1997 Congress Papers - so I think it's going to be a wonderful publication, because it's got a lot of hardcore technical astrology as well as mythical astrology, it's a really good anthology. It takes a couple of years to produce the papers obviously, but hopefully they will be out by the end of the year. Once they are produced, we're going to try and get contacts in England and the USA to distribute the books. It's not going to be a huge print-run, because obviously it's targeted at a very precise audience, but I think there are a lot of astrologers out there who would want this material.
Q: Yes, my next question was 'where do I get it?'
It seems obvious to me that, once it's finished, we should contact the bookshop here [Midheaven] and a few others. It's probably only going to be a print-run of around five hundred or so, it's not huge - but it's going to be good! I'm really looking forward to it.
On Astro Logos:
Q: If someone wants to find out what steps the Astro Logos training course goes through, what do they do?
[The following is the way Astro Logos worked when based in Australia in the 1990s for more current information please visit www.astrologos.co.uk
We have handbooks which give that information to potential students. Someone asks us, and we send that book out to them - it's a whole book on 'what are the steps', and 'what is taught at each step'. It's a four year course, broken up into units. The first two years are the basis - getting literacy in astrology. It would probably be almost identical to the Faculty [of Astrological Studies] syllabus. There are things that are fundamental to astrology - and that takes the first two years.
The next two years are what we call 'The Practitioner's Course', and in that there are two years of study where they learn the skills to become a professional astrologer or to move into astrology in one of its angles. There are standard units they do - like 'Relationship Astrology' - because every astrologer needs to know about composites and synastries, children's charts… it's very much geared for the practising astrologer, covering what you are going to be asked by your clientele, and how you are going to deal with it.
But also we do whole slabs where the students have to split up into groups and study certain subjects and then present them to the class - so there'll be research groups in mundane, and horary, and asteroids, and medical. So there's this smorgasbord presented to the fourth years. And what happens is that a student will be attracted to some areas and not to others, so this starts to give them an idea of their specialism within astrology
So by the time they graduate, we feel confident that they are a good basic practising astrologer who can do counselling work, predictive work and reading charts - good, ethical, solid stuff. Then they have got their individual talents - and we know that they have been exposed to the smorgasbord of astrology, and quite a few of them go on to specialise in certain subjects. This is wonderful, because this is where they all happily surpass us in our own knowledge in certain fields - which is great, we are always pleased to acknowledge that.
This is obviously a personal opinion - South Australia is recognised as being the most active and dynamic group in Australia (I think I can say that without offending anybody) and - obviously now this is a personal comment - I feel that the astrology there is of a very high standard, and I think South Australia puts out really brilliant things - like, Solar Fire comes from South Australia. Graham Dawson and Stephanie Johnson met in our classes. So I tease them that we take total credit for all their success… no, that's where they have surpassed us, they have gone on and have produced excellent software.
Q: A number of British astrologers who I've interviewed, when I've asked 'What changes would you like to see in the world of astrology', have said that their number one priority would be for astrologers (meaning, British astrologers) to stop arguing.
Obviously I'm not au fait with the British scene at that level. We get disagreements in Australian astrology, but what I like in Southern Australian astrology is that we don't get arguments - we sit and drink tea together and talk, we have a cafe culture and, if someone totally unknown has been working on something they'll get just as much help and support. There isn't this sense of, 'This is my data and I'm not going to give it to you'; we all share a lot of data and information. I feel blessed that I live in that community, I really do.
Mind you - in the three years I was working on fixed stars, I'd mention fixed stars and they'd roll their eyes and say, 'Oh no, Bernadette's talking about fixed stars again...!'
On the spiritual path of astrology:
Q: You mentioned meditation in your talk yesterday, and I wonder what you feel the relevance of the spiritual path to astrology is. For instance, William Lilly said, 'The holier thou art and more neer to God, the purer judgement thou shalt give'....
That's very much coming from the eight-sphere philosophy. I don't support what he said, but I understand the framework that he said it in, because the understanding of the planets was considered a spiritual journey towards purity - the ascent/descent of the soul, you know? Rob Hand does that talk better!
So I can understand Lilly saying that and what that quote is saying is that you have to be pure in yourself to be a good astrologer. I have two opinions about that. In myself, I like to try and live that way - I don't think I succeed, but I have a personal belief system that astrology is a metaphysical subject, and that if you are approaching it with an open heart and honesty in your soul, with good intent, that its doors will open for you. I'm a Pisces, so that's important to me - and I try and live like that, but I can tell you, quite often I fall down a large hole!
I think we'd like to believe what Lilly is said, but I suspect that's not necessarily the case. I think you can be an absolute ratbag and still be a good astrologer - unfortunately. I think someone of quite negative intent, if they know their techniques and they've studied it well, could still do good predictive work. However - having said that, it seems to me after many years of teaching astrology that, if someone really studies astrology, it changes a person from the inside. It gets the person asking interesting questions, so it tends to be that the people who get through and do all the work, pass the exams, tend to be quite solid types.
It's a good one for debate, but I can't support Lilly's statement in that. Obviously anything like that is a personal opinion.
But I really do believe that each human mind is its own starry sky - we do have our circumpolar stars, we do have the centre of our mind, and we seek it just like the Pole Star; we seek the place that everything else orbits around. In other words, inside here is exactly the same as outside there - we're back to fractals again.
I personally believe that is so because, when the human mind was forming, we were very much devoted to the starry sky; and as we came into awareness (whenever that was) we did so with the sky as our guide. So we built our mind, collectively, mirroring the sacred pole and everything moving around it. That's my personal philosophy on the construction of the human mind, I cannot give you citations to support it but this is what I was referring to yesterday - 'it's in meditation that we seek that centre'.
There are whole slabs of philosophy in various tribes which say that, if you go out at night, and look at the pole, this is very healing - you can actually heal diseases that way. Really, this is just a form of meditation - it's going back to that centre.
On becoming interested in astrology:
Q: How did you get interested in astrology in the first place?
God, I hate that question!
Q: Sorry, but it has to be asked.
The Parkers got me into astrology - they have a lot to answer for, for many people. I've told them this! I think the Parkers do a tremendous job for astrology, because they act as that bridge between the Sun-sign and the serious astrologer. They are the doorway that so many people pass through.
What happened was, I was very interested in the positions of planets - so I needed an ephemeris. I had no idea where to get one, so I wandered into a bookshop and they had the Parker's book. What interested me was, at the back of it they had that simple ephemeris. So I bought it for the ephemeris, to be aware of where things were, and then of course I read the book! That afternoon, I sat down and taught myself how to draw up a chart. I can remember the distinct Saturday afternoon, I've have even backtracked the date and roughly the time… now that I am an astrologer.
I had a blank piece of foolscap paper, used a dinner plate to draw the circle, and I drew up my own chart. I can remember looking at it, thinking the whole thing was a load of garbage - I was just doing it for interest - and then of course the ego kicks in and thinks, 'Well - what does it mean?' So it was back to the Parker book - obviously simple cookbook astrology. I worked my way through the planets, houses and signs and thought, 'Well, that's an interesting fluke' because some things seemed valid to me.
My siblings and I had grown up knowing our birth times - you know, 'You're not really nine until eleven fifteen...', that was part of our birthday ritual. So I knew the birth times for my three siblings, and immediately plotted them up and used the Parker book to look at those charts. What really amazed me was that - you know every family has a black sheep, I don't mean this negatively, maybe it's better to say 'one who is different'. Well, in our family, that person is a Sun-Uranus conjunction in Gemini, with Aquarius rising. Well, of course they are different!
The Parker astrology picked that up, and that really amazed me - that I had these four charts, and this had picked up the one which was different; this was the one who was marching to a different beat. And it annoyed the hell out of me, because if astrology worked then what I had devoted my life to was in tatters. It was a personal experience that was very important to go through, and I think if more astrologers had to go through that they would really understand the anger that science has against astrology - because if astrology's right, they are in trouble.
Q: You were a microbiologist at this time?
Yes. So, I took the attitude of, 'I'm going to disprove this'. So I started to simply collect up the birth data from all my friends, you know the way you do these things…. It was not a Gauquelin approach, let me make that quite clear! I kept drawing up these charts by hand on scraps of paper, and using the Parker [book].
The damned stuff kept working - that's what really annoyed me. So I started doing more and more (this was in 1976). I'd spend a weekend drawing up charts; I went and got more books, started writing things up… I started getting very angry. Then I had a very bad car accident where a Volkswagen hit me on the back of the head doing 40 mph. Of course they carted me off to hospital and x-rayed the head. They found that my head had an inch-thick plate of bone - so actually I don't have much room here for a brain… it's official! (laughing). Apparently my father had it as well, and he had a bad accident (obviously, with my strong Saturn I have a lot of my father in me). Anyway, I had bad concussion and had to just lie in a dark room. I could listen to a radio but couldn't do anything else - couldn't watch TV, couldn't read a book.
That accident was 1st June 1976, 9.00 am in the morning. Whereas some people have a gentle tap on the head to tell them, 'Let's get metaphysical here', I had to be belted by a Volkswagen doing forty! But that did it. For three weeks I thought about astrology. By the time I came out of that room, I had to moved from Philosophy A to Philosophy B!
So then I just started seriously studying astrology. I had cleared the anger and rage at having "wasted" my life studying science, and I just started studying astrology very intensely. I kept working as a microbiologist, but eventually I quit my nice establishment career became an astrologer - I did that in 1980. I was driving to work one day thinking, 'When I retire I'm going to really be able to study astrology…' I hit the brakes, and thought - 'My God, why wait until I retire? What a stupid thing to do - to wait until you're sixty, before you do what you want to do with your life!'
Although I didn't quit then and there, I decided that I would quit. It was a bit of a decision to work out the financial side of the process, but within six months of that decision I had quit and was becoming an astrologer.
On asteroids, other bodies and questions of rulership:
Q: You mentioned asteroids - how important do you think they are?
Listen, I don't even use Chiron - it's a running joke in South Australia! Lee Lehman calls them 'orbiting gravel' (she's allowed to do that, she's written a book on them) and I must admit, I lean that way myself. But I love the work Demetra George does, I should say that.
I believe that astrology works because of fractals, and as soon as you accept that statement, then you must recognise that anything orbiting up there can be used successfully in an astrological framework. All you have to do is study it and work within it. Hence I've got fifty fixed stars I like to play with, and although they're not asteroids it's similar in that it brings in more things. Once I'd accepted that fractals was (for me) the way it works… you become incredibly tolerant of everybody else's astrology, because as long as they are honest with it, as long as they've done the work and they are employing empirical feedback on their work, there is no reason why they can't come up with a very good astrological system using the things they are working with. If astrology works with planets it must work with asteroids, it must work with anything… if you build the body of knowledge and you do the work.
Having stated that, personally I like to work with just the planets - and I don't even like Chiron! I don't like Chiron because it's right on my ascendant, which is Sag, and I think I can't see it. I'm aware it does some interesting things, but… I don't work with it. And I must admit, in all my sports work I don't even work with the outer planets.
Q: I was wondering when you do and don't use them…
For all the sports work I don't use the outer planets. For client work I will use the outer planets - but the outer planets have a precise place in my astrology, which is quite applicable for modern client work but is not applicable for a medieval or Arabic framework.
Therefore, I personally don't use the asteroids, I don't use the Centaurs (because I don't even use the main one) and I prefer to work just with the planets, because I feel that the story is revealed there, and although the other ones can be quite interesting they are just adding more of the same.
But we all live in glass houses, and we shouldn't throw stones. That's really important. I think that the work Demetra George does (and there could be others - I don't want to discredit them or whatever, I just know her work) is really important, because what her work did - it helped to break up this very Greek concept of 'it's just planets, and the ecliptic' and started to bring in another world-view on astrology. I don't want to call it 'feminist astrology' because I don't like that kind of terminology; but it brought in alternative views. Which I think was important for astrology - to start to break up its set thing about planets and so on, we could say a form of post-modern astrology.
The only thing I react strongly to, and start getting on a hobby-horse, and rave and rant, and stand on tables and so on, is when people start attributing rulership to some of these other things. I have very strong views about rulership - that's the only thing that will get me going!
Q: So you'd never use the outers as rulers?
The outer planets definitely have an affiliation to certain signs, but I think we need to redefine the term 'rulership'. Uranus is connected to Aquarius. Any predictive astrologer working with transits and looking at bringing in the houses of a natal chart to give you the areas of life being affected has that proven every single day in the consulting room - that the outer planets 'rule' (in inverted commas) signs.
I was having this discussion with Rob Hand only last week - that really, what we need to say is that the old planets rule signs, and we need to have a new term for the three modern planets, to convey that they 'have very strong affiliations to' signs. Because 'rulership' in the medieval model means a very precise thing; it means that a planet will be able to fulfil its potential, its function, very well. Pluto in Scorpio - we can't say of that, 'it can fulfil its potential', because it doesn't work at an individual level.
Therefore I think we need to redefine rulership, or - better still - give rulership to the old planets, and have another term for the connection that the modern planets have with certain signs. But you see, if we say 'Pluto rules Scorpio', then some astrologers rush off and want to give it dignity, and say 'it's in detriment in Taurus' - what absolute garbage! It doesn't have detriment, exaltation and fall - because it doesn't really rule Scorpio - but it has a strong affinity there. Whereas Saturn - yes, let's use the exaltations and detriments and fall - because they work, we can measure them, we can see them - anybody with Saturn in Leo knows the difficulties that Saturn has when it is in detriment.
In The Eagle and the Lark I talk about those planets 'ruling', because I was still using that kind of terminology. That's one of the things I have changed now, but I wouldn't change the principle in terms of Pluto being aligned to Scorpio in predictive work.
I think I brought Rob Hand round to that point of view - we had a good debate last week. Anyway we both agreed that astrology needs a new term, let me put it that way.
On beginning to work with fixed stars:
Q: Gillian Helfgott is one of the dedicatees in Brady's Book of Fixed Stars - is that as in wife of David Helfgott (the pianist)?
Yes, Gillian's a very old friend, and she was the first astrologer to turn me onto fixed stars. I knew Gillian a long time before she met David. In fact, I wrote the first draft of the fixed star book whilst babysitting her house. So for me that was completing something, and I really wanted to acknowledge her. Gillian comes from a Cosmobiology background - I'm not a Cosmobiologist, so I can't make sweeping statements about it, but it does involve fixed star work - but very much projecting it back onto the ecliptic. When I first started investigating fixed stars, I bought Robson, I bought Rigor… and Gillian was staying with me.
She's a quadruple Sag, so when we meet we talk for hours. She's a very good technical, nuts-and-bolts astrologer, and still sees clients because she loves it - not very often now, because she's so busy with David. But I sat her down, I got my Rigor and Robson out, and I said, 'Gillian, tell me the stars you work with' - because that's one of the questions you have when you come to the stars, because there are thousands of them.
I've still got the sheet of paper; I highlighted the ones she said that she worked with, and that was the set I started to work with. So in a sense, she was the first person to give me a clue with fixed stars. I've worked with them since then, and have totally changed the way I want to work with them.
So I'd written the first draft in her house (there were about ten drafts!) and I wanted to acknowledge her role, and then the whole of Shine happened, and then I got embarrassed and I had to ask her - because I didn't want people to think I was just waving a name. So I met Gillian in Adelaide several years ago - this was just when Shine was being released - I said, 'I don't want you to think that I've done this because I'm waving a name, because when I did it, nobody knew… [of you]' She said, 'Oh no, I understand…' So I felt quite good about that, so long as she understood I didn't care what other people thought. She's a wonderful person, very dynamic. Everything's in Sag… She says in lectures, 'It's alright for you lot - you can leave, I have to live with myself…'!
On astrology and gambling:
Q: Have you worked out a system for predicting lottery results?
No. I had pondered that, like any decent Jupiter style chart would. First of all - I don't know how it works in this country, but the time that the numbers are pulled out is a random factor back home. I've rung up the Lotteries Commission, and they don't let the time out. It happens on a Friday - they pre-record it, and put it out later.
So that's the first problem. The second thing - I don't actually buy lotto tickets, because the ruler of my eighth is in my twelfth and so I just don't have lotto wins in my chart, so why should I bother? The ruler of my eighth in the twelfth could do lottery, but it doesn't, I can tell you that now! It's the square to Saturn which wrecks it.
What has occurred to me - the best way to pull lottery wins, I think, is to let your right brain kick in and pull out a shape. In Australia they have a grid of numbers, and they show the 'X's on it. You have to tune into it a bit but it's interesting, because you can get quite near. You can sometimes intuitively pick up, using your right brain, the shape of the pattern of the crosses on the numbers. I've done that a few times, and every time I've used it I've got the shape absolutely correct, but they've all been one off! The whole shape's been moved one over! This is the cosmos telling me that there's no point in me trying to do this - so, fine.
But if I had to, that's the way I'd do it. I'm quite happy to gamble - I put myself through my tertiary education through betting on horses. I wasn't an astrologer at the time, it was purely by studying form and so on. I used to earn for myself $50 a week, which was a lot of money back in the 70's. I was living at home - didn't have to pay for food and things - so that enabled me to get myself through my education. So I'm quite open to the idea of wagering, but the lottery is something I'm not that interested in.
I have done a lot of work on when to gamble and when not to gamble. I've done that for clients as well, and that works quite well. Certain charts can win money. If you take those charts and collect five or six dates in their history when they have - not necessarily won money at gambling, but have had a really happy day - and you take those days, and pound them mathematically, analyse them harmonically, whack them through JigSaw for the harmonic patterns, absolutely pull them apart and break them down into their atoms, you will find a common pattern which is unique to that individual. It's not a simple thing like a transit to one planet - quite often it's got to be a transit to that, and at the same time there has to be this, and at the same time there has to be that… you know, it's an algorithm. Once you find that for an individual you can run that quite successfully. I find that that works!
Q: And then they go and buy their lottery ticket at that precise moment?
Yes, or if these things were being fired off on the day it was being drawn. But much better, take your chart to the casino. Darrelyn has such a chart, so people do have charts that enable them to coming into lump sums of money, while other people do not.
Usually, if a person has an angular Pluto, a strong Pluto, that's one of the key signatures for a chart that can win sums of money. It's nothing to do with Jupiter - in my opinion absolutely nothing. In my experience it is the Pluto charts that work. Once I've worked out the patterns they can go to the casino, and gamble between this time and this time and if they can do that (and that is another story) they can do really well. Then they have to stop… which is another interesting little human thing.
I have had some clients in America that I do this work for - and they're happy little vegemites, as we say in Australia. But I don't do a lot of that, because it can be a bit boring, I find sports astrology more interesting because you can learn more as you watch the dynamics unfold in the game.
What I love about astrology is that it can go in any direction. If you've got something that you want to solve, you only have to go back and collect previous data, be prepared to put all your astrological beliefs, or theories, to one side, work the data, and let it tell you what is happening in effect using ground theory. Then once you have a theory reproduce for a future time. I have found that this works eight out of ten times. It's very simple really. Then slowly, you can start to build up ideas or concepts.
I think that's why I like medieval astrology, because when you go study what the astrological authors of the past were saying often it is same concepts that you have just discovered in one's research work. That, to me, is encouraging.
has practised astrology since 1976. His other interests include Buddhism and Advaita Vedanta. Astrology in the Year Zero
published in 2000, resulted from Garry's study of astrology - in particular, from his investigation of the philosophy and assumptions that underpin the subject. His articles and lectures have appeared under the aegis of groups including the Astrological Association of Great Britain, the Astrological Lodge, the Company of Astrologers, the Urania Trust, the Standing Conference on Organizational Symbolism, The Mountain Astrologer, and Ascella. He is currently working on a PhD about astrology and truth at the University of Wales, Trinity St. David.
Visit Garry's website at http://www.astrozero.co.uk/
© Garry Phillipson