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How I changed my mind about astrology

"We are born at a given moment in a given place
and like vintage years of wine
we have the qualities of the year and of the season
in which we are born."

~ Carl Jung

The best web site I've found where newcomers to astrology can learn its methods for free is the Mountain Astrologer's Beginner's Series.

Onward now to what seems to me the most significant rarely-understood area of human knowledge, other than some topics of this website, such as vegetarianism and helpful political participation and living a decent, non-polluting, energy-conserving lifestyle, without reckless violence or unkindness. Yes folks, it's time to dive into astrology. I realize that many people, maybe including you, are sure that astrology is utterly useless and always false. Well, sorry, but that happens to be the wrong guess. It took me a lot of years -- well beyond the time when I graduated from Dartmouth College (where one of the best astrology writers, Grant Lewi, had once taught), and beyond the years when some friends and I created a bookstore in Palo Alto, California and I first encountered intelligent people who used astrology -- for me to begin to understand that, beyond the often frivolous, minimally useful thing which is usually called astrology -- the whole sun sign business -- and beyond the quacks (inevitable in any field) and beyond boastful purveyors of simplified predictions, there exists a complex body of knowledge and skills which are learnable and which can be used to understand, not completely but with remarkable depth, not only a person's character but the nature of periods of time, of relationships, and parts of the world, and how and why each person will have a unique experience in each moment, in each place, in each relationship. And one can learn that there are times when it would be wise to initiate certain projects, and other times when it would be more productive to wait. Until you've learned about transiting aspects, personal aspects (including, trines, squares, semi-squares and so on), and progressions, location analysis, composites, geodetics and other astrological terms and methods, most of what occupies the astrology section of your mind is bound, reasonably, to be skepticism and/or confusion or emptiness. Some minds may not be up to the task, and some time is required, but I think that if you've managed to read down to here you can master this subject, without devoting too big a fraction of your life to it -- and will find it worthwhile.

So I'll eventually recommend here some good astrology books -- but first let me tell you how I became aware that there's something valid and valuable in astrology. In the mid-1970s, when I lived in the San Francisco Bay area of California, there was a guy on the radio (on a show originating in Boston) who described, each day, the currently developing astrological configurations (mainly involving the earth, the sun, the earth's moon, and our solar system's planets) which would affect specific parts of that day. Over the months, as he hit the jackpot time after time, about easy and tough parts of days, and periods (sometimes even exact minutes) with particular characteristics, I became aware that these comments contained unusually valuable truth. (Recently there was an excellent internet equivalent of that radio show -- Maya del Mar's Daily Success Guide. Sadly, though, Maya del Mar passed away in December 2006. When I find a good alternative site which ably discusses daily astrological "weather", I'll mention it here.)

Later, in 1978 or '79, when I was attending a workshop on how to create a bookshop (in which, gratifyingly, the speaker mentioned my own bookshop and one other as the best examples she knew, of how a bookshop could be done well), I went out at the noon break and walked over to an astrology convention in a nearby building. Everyone was apparently listening to lectures in one or more big rooms, except one guy who was sitting in a hallway at a table with some books, and I walked over and had my first conversation with Jim Lewis, who described a locational astrology method which he had recently developed, called Astrocartography. Eventually, through personal testing of these and other locational astrology methods (such as local space charts, astrolocality charts, relocation charts, and other methods mentioned in books I'll eventually describe here), my understanding of astrology became fuller and more practical. Eventually I discovered that my Pluto rising line runs along the San Andreas Fault, and within a mile of the place where friends and I had created a bookshop, and through the home where I had my first sexual relationship.


Dell Horoscope and American Astrology are monthly magazines in which you can find all of the major daily astrological aspects, ingresses and other related events, with times and descriptions of their effects -- as well as articles on various astrological subjects, and book reviews. Most other astrology magazines (including Mountain Astrologer, which is probably the best) have articles but lack the astrological aspects, without which you'll often be living in a fog. I've subscribed to Dell Horoscope since the 1970s. You can buy it at lots of stores, or click here:

However, astrological aspects (current relationships betwen planets and the earth) are only half of the astrological weather of each day. We're also and equally affected by how the current configuration of planets (and the sun and moon, etc) affect our own particular, individual natures (set at the moment of our birth and depicted in our "birth chart"). The most convenient way I've found for getting a listing of daily aspects of transiting planets to my own birth planets is to buy "Calendar Transits", from acs -- though at this point there are many alternatives, mostly unknown to me. One good option is to buy astrological software, such as Solar Fire and Solar Maps (or for Macs there's Io -- see http://www.timecycles.com/, though many with Macs use the Windows astrological software, either through Virtual PC (as I do), or using one of the new Intel Macs). A website which includes useful reviews and comparisons of the various astrology software options for PCs and Macs is Astrology Software Shop.

Rather than write a long exposition of astrology methods (and I do plan eventually to put here at upchange a good summary of various fundamental principles and techniques -- though other parts of the website and my life need attention too) --- here are some useful books (there are many others I've not read and can't judge, but these are a few I like): Any by Robert Hand (he's one of the few who predicted that Islamic terrorists would attack the US in the fall of 2001 -- the predicition, and reasons for it, were published a few months earlier, in Mountain Astrologer Magazine). And several by Alan Oken. And Astrolocality Astrology: A guide to what it is and how to use it, by Martin Davis.

Quite useful: The American Ephemeris for the 21st Century, and the edition for the 20th Century (useful because most of us were born then) by Neil F. Michelsen, and each year's edition of the Pocket Astrologer, by Jim Maynard -- which includes daily transits for the whole year, like the ones in the monthly Dell Horoscope Magazine, but just the major ones, and without interpretations or articles (it does include a brief guide to understanding aspects and planets, and is nicely pocketable; I always buy each year's edition).

This page is new to upchange. I plan to come back and add more helpful info before long. Meanwhile, for a page with well-chosen astrology links, check the Mountain Astrology site. Happy transits!

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