So what does astrology offer to spiritual seekers?
Astrology can be approached on many different levels. Unfortunately, most of the levels it's approached on are very superficial such as horoscope columns in newspapers.
Even though I write one of those, I'm rather snooty towards them because I think that they do astrology a disservice. One of the reasons I took on the job of writing the column was that I wanted to bring some poetry and integrity to it.
I think astrology can be used to invigorate your imagination about the choices available to you. Astrology's really one of the few living mythic systems that we have available to us. We talk about the gods and goddesses of ancient Greece, but nobody really believes in them with his heart and soul. Astrology is a remnant of the mythic thinking that comes from projecting our own psychological aspects onto imagery outside ourselves.
I'm very much a novice about astrology. Friends of mine who have done Chinese studies have referenced astrology as a Chinese science, and now you're saying, there are European roots to astrology as well?
The astrology that was used throughout medieval Europe originated in more ancient sources; Babylonia was really where it began. But astrology is integrated seamlessly into the Torah, the Kabbalah, alchemy, the esoteric traditions of the West. It is an understanding of archetypal forces and how they work in us.
It seems as if your astrology column is part imagination and part looking at various charts.
I don't regard astrology as a science by any means. I know there are some astrologers who fiercely believe in the science of it and I do think there is an objective element to it, but it's so slippery that I hesitate to compare it to science. With that said, I do draw up a chart for each sign for each week and have that matrix to work within. Each sign has a particular area of life lit up during any particular astrological month. For instance, what's your sun sign?Cancer
So we are in the astrological month of Taurus right now. It's the harvest time of the astrological cycle so in that sense it's a good time to bring to fruition any long-term projects you have been working on. Any dreams that you've been postponing are best activated now. That's just an example of the way that I might think.
The other key is imagination. Kaballah means to be receptive and that's a primary aspect of my work as a spiritual being and as an artist: to be attuned to what's happening outside my little realm. So that means anything from being aware of what the lives of the people that I know are like, to reading widely, to eavesdropping in public places, to doing something that I call whirlygigging, which is just walking around to places that I wouldn't normally go to to see what experiences cling to me.
What was your religious background? How did you grow up?
I was raised as an Episcopalian. I was also a Jesuit in a past incarnation and a Christian monk in another. At this point I practice a more esoteric form of Christianity--I'm not really a member of a Christian church--that I blend with paganism and the Western hermetic tradition.
So you were raised in an Episcopalian church, and then something triggered an expansion. Was there a specific event?
I came of age in the '60s; that infected me in the best possible way. The trigger event was listening to a recording of the "I Have a Dream" speech by Martin Luther King. I heard it on the radio many years after he gave it, but it catalyzed a number of different forces that had been pouring into me. At that point, I was on track to be a highly educated East Coast intellectual.
Certainly listening to that speech wasn't the only force, but it shocked me into an understanding that astrology, Hinduism, and rock music were the cultural influences that were going to fill out my education in a way I needed desperately. I had a very clear intuition that unless I tuned into that other side of my brain--the imagination, the poetic sensibility--I was going to become an alcoholic or have some sort of nervous breakdown.
This happened while listening to a black Christian preacher?
Right. Martin Luther King was alive with poetry and passion. Now I look back and say that man had the fire of Kundalini in him. What does that mean?
Kundalini is the Eastern term for the life force. [It is awakened] through meditation and careful moral practices. You raise it so that it illuminates all seven of your chakras. But in plain terms, in more secular terms, it's the life force; in its most base form, it's sexual energy.
Can you give me a few guidelines for people who are seeking authenticity within astrology but don't really know what to look for?
The foremost practitioners of astrology work in books and in private practice.