Saturday, January 02, 2016

Self-indulgent Saturday-Sunday #9 ~ Regarding Astrology

Astrology has played some part in my life for over 50 years. For the greater part of that time my knowledge was sketchy at best. I strained to understand a world beyond Sun signs, which I knew existed, but had difficulty accessing. In my younger years things were very different from now. The Astrology Bandwagon proper had not yet started to roll, it had not been fuelled by the spread of home computers and the internet.

I lived in England in a small town where the library and book store carried no books on astrology. I would scour magazines and newspapers for articles expanding on the scanty Sun sign columns which were carried then. Astrology, at its most seminal level, was with me though, sketchy or not. Where my very first "feel" for astrology came from I can only guess - I suspect it emerged from a big door-stopper of a book owned by my maternal grandmother. I think its title was something like "Encyclopaedia of Superstitions". From that volume I still clearly remember going to a section about what I now know to be geomancy. I think, perhaps, that there might have been a section on astrology in that volume, and that would have been my first ever introduction to it.

As the 1950s morphed into the '60s then the '70s, things began to look up for astrology.
Hippies, their culture, and Hair the musical with its hit song The Age of Aquarius brought astrology into focus, more people began to take an interest. By now I'd moved from small town Yorkshire. I'd married and awaited divorce. I puzzled over the fact that my marriage to a Libra Sun person had failed dismally, when Aquarius and Libra were thought to be such an excellent match. I started reading more books and any specialised magazines I could find. Nothing I read enabled me to get much beyond Sun sign astrology. I was hampered by my blind-spot in mathematics. Trying to calculate a natal chart from written instructions with nobody to ask for advice was too daunting a task.

In the early '70s a new relationship began in my life - with a Sun Taurus guy. According to all information Aquarians and Taureans are not a good match. In spite of our Sun signs the relationship lasted for 33 years, until his death. With a more stable emotional background, a new home base in the northern city of Leeds, new job in the civil service, a new era for me began.

Among colleagues in my new job were 3 who shared my interest in astrology. Glory be! Barbara, a lady nearing retirement who first taught me my job, Pat who was originally my immediate supervisor, and Mike, who eventually married Pat. These three friends opened the doorway into astrology a wee bit wider for me. Pat sorted out my Moon sign, and Mike introduced me to tarot cards, and a strange shop in Leeds called The Sorcerer's Apprentice where I bought tarot cards, books and an enormous pile of back issues of Prediction magazine.

I bought my first "proper" astrology report sometime during the 1970s, answering an advert in one of the Prediction issues. The British astrologer, Patrick something or other, was quite well known then. The report was expensive, and took a long time to arrive. It was produced on a typewriter which had seen better days: uneven type, fading ink upon three foolscap sheets of good quality blue paper. I remember its appearance, but no longer have it. It was lost along with all of our possessions in a disastrous fire in 1996. This report on my natal chart told me, at last, something about natal positions of other planets. It was confirmed that Moon was in Aries, as Pat had calculated. The astrologer estimated my ascendant to be in Leo, from the birth time I had given, which later proved to be inaccurate. I laboured for years under the misapprehension that I had Leo rising (rather than my 99.9% likely Cancer ascendant). Most of the other content of that report has faded in memory, except that the astrologer said I'd be likely to experience disappointments in dealings with the opposite sex. I reckon that's true of any human on planet Earth! I still haven't worked out what in my chart prompted him to write that. As it turns out, I've been luckier than most in my relationships.

Later on, other office colleagues shared my interest in astrology. We'd swap books and information, but much was still beyond my understanding. We were like kids playing blind-man's buff. My copy of Linda Goodman's Sun Signs did the rounds of our office a few times, and eventually disappeared.

Astrology columns in newspapers and magazines had become common by this time, improved in both quality and quantity. Russell Grant's, in the Daily Mirror, a tabloid which Bill insisted on buying for sports coverage and because it was the only left-wing newspaper then, apart from the rather snooty Guardian. In those days Russell Grant was doing well as a popular newspaper astrologer, he'd often come up with bits and pieces to which I could easily relate. I felt his style gradually changed though, as he began to concentrate more on becoming a "celebrity."

I don't remember exactly how or when I discovered Jonathan Cainer's columns. Perhaps it was in a popular magazine for women, or in a Sunday newspaper. I immediately felt that this was the one to watch. We couldn't bear to buy The Daily Express, even for Jonathan Cainer's column - that newspaper was far too conservative! I'd beg or borrow copies, and buy any other publication I could find where his writing appeared. Then he took over from Russell Grant in The Mirror! His page there was interesting and entertaining. In those days it carried all kinds of information as well as Sun sign forecasts. Later he moved to The Daily Mail, and we moved to The Mail too. (Link to his website is in my sidebar.)

I can't say exactly why I was so keen on these Sun sign columns. I knew that there was much more to astrology, yet these columns presented something to hold on to, something regular, day by day. At some point, probably in the late 1980s, a friend had given me a book on astrology containing, as an addendum, a very cut-down version of ephemeris-type data. This opened the astro-window a tiny bit wider, but it was really those newspaper columns that helped to keep astrology alive for me. Perhaps I was holding on instinctively, intuitively knowing that someday I'd reach a point from which I'd be able to discover more. That point came, at last, with the purchase of a home computer in late 2001. I discovered astrology message boards and read them regularly. Then, in my early years in the USA, I bought astrology software. WOW! I could now produce a natal chart! Because of everything I'd absorbed, knowingly and unknowingly over 50 years or more, learning enough to fill many of the gaps in my sketchy knowledge came with comparative ease, assisted by a huge collection of astrology text books bought on E-bay, late property of an astrologer. I also bought an instruction course, with lessons, prepared by American astrologer Zipporah Dobyns. I continued reading, learning from, and occasionally contributing to several astrology message boards online.

I don't recall how, or why, I felt tempted to try writing an astrology blog. Maybe astrology message boards had grown stale for me, blogs were overtaking them, just as Facebook has now overtaken blogs.

It was in the fall of 2006 that Learning Curve on the Ecliptic was born, shortly after our return from a wonderful vacation among Colorado's Rocky Mountains. Blogger, back then, offered a fairly limited selection of fancy blog backgrounds with help, if required, to get started. I chose a background, concocted that over-long blog title, and got started. After a year or so I was able to customise a different, simple, background for the blog - the format it has retained, with occasional tweaks to the main title font.

Learning Curve on the Ecliptic was a solitary experiment for a while, an internet backwater nobody ever reached. I have to thank several established astrology bloggers for helping me along, with encouragement: Elsa of Elsa Elsa Advice Blog was the first, then Jeffrey Kishner, now of Sasstrology, Julie Demboski and April of Big Sky Astrology - they're all linked in my sidebar. If it hadn't been for the acceptance of these astrologers I'd almost certainly have given up within a few months.

After some six years writing about astrology and related subjects I diversified a wee bit, broadened the blog's scope to take in politics and more general topics. This blog has never attracted a wide readership, even before Facebook began leeching the life out of blogs in general. From time to time, over the years, some loyal regular readers and commenters have appeared, travelled along with me for as long as they could, and become welcome friends.

I suppose I really should wade into the waters of Facebook, as so many other bloggers have done, but doubt that I shall do so, unless perhaps Google were to decide someday to take Blogger off their menu.


mike said...

We have about the same number of years invested in astrology. My mother had surface interest in astrology, not enough interest to understand the machinations, but enough to desire the offerings of astrology-based magazines offered here in the USA, such as Dell's "Horoscope" and "The American Astrologer". She did have natal charts computed for herself and us children by Marguerite Carter (she was born January 31, 1899), and the reports were much as you describe yours from Patrick-something. Carter's reports were uncannily accurate and was my first foray into the inner workings of a complete natal chart and interpretation. Loved it! I started calculating natal charts in my late teens and, as astrologers know, the calculations are the easy part...interpretation is everything...and I slowly developed a mental vault of gleaned information from the book-writing astrologers.

I think the most underlying foundation of my interest in astrology was due to the vast gaps of religion. Religion dealt with the nebulous and all-mighty actions of a fickle gawd, bolstered with sin, guilt, and repentance. Astrology offered a cause and effect basis for the workings of life, a method for seeing potential trends, and a core for understanding one's inherent psychological tendencies. Like you, I've always accepted that astrology has fundamental properties that are effective, much more so than anything else that I've encountered. Perhaps my limited understanding of its totality is more the issue.

I'm certainly pleased that you chose to blog your astrological wares, Twilight! I'm not sure when I first started reading your blog, perhaps back in 2009 or 2010. Perhaps it was the Saturn-Uranus-Pluto T-square, then simply the Uranus-Pluto square, but blogs and forums deteriorated to the squalor of in-fighting and nasty commenters. I rarely left comments, due to having several punches thrown my way, more often by the blogger for remarks I had made that didn't seem inflammatory, but were taken as such. Your blog was a peaceful reprieve! Sane and sensible. I've read some of your older posts and you've had some punches thrown at you...LOL...and I suspect you may have taken some of my comments as heavy hitting, but thanks for being kind.

Yes, should you want to reach a wider audience, you'll probably need to enter Facebook-ville. Ugh. Facebook seems to be off-loading the individual user, yet businesses and blogs have transitioned to interesting trend. It seems that any social media attaining high usage is eventually disregarded by the youngsters, to which they switch to a lesser known alternative. Perhaps standard blogging with an actual internet address, such as yours, will regain standing.

Keep-up the good work, Twilight. I enjoy and appreciate your effort and vigilance! You seem to have softened toward local and global injustices, however. I miss your hard-hitting, usually sociopolitical, discourses...LOL.

mike (again) said...

I think my comment went to your spam folder.

mike (again) said...

An interesting essay regarding Facebook's role in democracy, conspiracy, and truth, with some interesting comments about Bernie's usage:

Twilight said...

mike ~ Rescued your comment! Thank you for your own potted history of your life in astrology. Yes, that limited understanding of its totality you mention is an issue for me too. I think I probably find it, or suspect that it is, more limited than you do, but still retain belief in its importance as a way of further trying to understand life on Earth.

I've lately taken to reading a few remaining astrology forums, and have noticed the in-fighting still surfaces occasionally. Same applies to almost any comment section on any blog or website though. Human nature at work!

I recall one or two "punches" thrown my way here, but too few for serious mention. Yours....well they have occasionally needled, but didn't offend, and simply served to make me think. ;-)

On comment threads elsewhere - usually politically slanted - I've been knocked back several times for several reasons. There's always somebody who wants to contradict something, on any topic under the sun. I ask myself "why bother?" I also ask myself "why care?" Answer: I don't know. Perhaps my backing off from ranting about local and global issues is a result of those questions.

Maybe I'll feel more hard hitting as the primary season nears its climax. I'm becoming more and more annoyed reading articles and comments from those I'd have expected to have been strongly supporting Bernie Sanders - not as "the perfect candidate" but as a step in the right direction. They still don't get it!! Or maybe I don't get them. I've read a couple of such this morning, by those who should definitely "get it", unless I've been fooled all along. Dang! I feel my BP rising just thinking about it.

Twilight said...

mike (again) ~ Re The Guardian article - interesting, thanks for the link. There are some good points made in the commentary both for and against the mini-worlds of Facebook and Twitter.

I'm personally averse to Facebook - it's not for the likes of me at my age. My age group isn't very vocal on astrology anyway, nor on the internet at large. Even the small band of readers here are mostly much younger than me - yourself included. I've always felt a wee bit "out of it" with few true peers, age-wise, around the net. It was worse in the UK; here in the USA there are some political writers and commenters from around my age group. Then again, I couldn't abide being stuck with only "the elders" - there's a dedicated blog (which shall be nameless because they refused to allow a link to my blog many years ago) which is likely a helpful resource for some, but irritates me no end if ever I visit because they concentrate only on "age" and age-related topics.

Those I know of who use Facebook (husband's close family) do so mainly to keep in touch with other family members. Husband tells me that he pops in there once or twice a week. If used solely for that reason I can see its value. I intend to avoid it for as long as Blogger allows me blog space . :-)

Sonny G said...

I'm happy to read another installment of your life.. You were so far ahead of your time, Annie and its great you were able to find like minded people..

I learned about sun sign from my great aunt. I always wondered if perhaps my birth had been lied about as I knew many cappies in my life and I wasn't like any of them and I'm still not.

Then I learned about the moon and ascend and that's been pretty much it for me till I came here and carefully read Ya'lls comments.

You've both offered some great links to other sites and slowly I go there and read their newest take on things. I'm still looking for that "wonderful astrologer" who will say straight out- no way in hell can Trump win the presidency~! lol lol Hope springs eternal on that issue as yet.

Facebook- I dunno. I tried it for a little while on a private group and even that quickly annoyed me. I read some there but soon some repub will comment and my blood pressure just doesnt need that kind of spike.

you keep posting Annie and I'll keep coming here to read.

Twilight said...

Sonny ~ LOL! Your mention of my being out of my time gave me an idea for a new screen name if I go commenting somewhere else: Ann Achronism. :-)

I'm glad we've piqued your interest in astrology to the next level.

Trump will keep us wondering for a while longer. If he wins the Repub. nomination it'll put things on a whole other level. %-(

Thanks for your visits and loyalty, Sonny - much appreciated I assure you.