Spiritual Advising

As you know, I am not a frequent blogger. Mostly I post once a month through my tarotscope, sharing a card pull for each sign of the Zodiac. This month and next there are some major astrological changes afoot that prompt even me to write about them. Beginning January 6 of this year, all major points (from Mercury to Pluto) went direct and will continue to be direct until March 5th and 6th when Mercury will go stationary, then retrograde, at the very end of Pisces, which means it will remain in Pisces until April 16, having entered on February 10, thus staying there for nine weeks and some change. The normal transit of Mercury through a sign, without retrograde movement, is less than three weeks! Pisces rules spirituality, the collective conscious, dreams, mystery, addictions, and delusions. Expect this to be a long period of soul-searching on one end of the spectrum and escapism on the other. The next major point to go retrograde will be Jupiter on April 11. Then we will begin to see an increasing number of the outer points enter their next retrograde phase. So, what does this mean?

At the global level and on the large scales (countries), we can expect changes to happen rapidly, whether it is the building up of an idea or institution or the tearing it down. Three of the outer points – Jupiter, Saturn, and Neptune – all happen to be moving through the sign they rule – Sagittarius, Capricorn, and Pisces, respectively. So, their energy is amplified. With Jupiter we will see amplified belief; with Saturn, amplified consequences; and with Neptune, amplified spiritual sensitivity. In the case of Jupiter, it will pass through Sagittarius in a year (ending in October of 2019); Saturn will complete its transition through Capricorn in 2020; but Neptune, which started in Pisces back in 2010, will not be done until 2026. It is just now past the half way point of its journey. On the largest scale and widest field, we are facing a struggle between democracy and oligarchy, with the consequences of past choices coming fully due in early 2020 when Jupiter, Saturn, and Pluto all merge in Capricorn. Believe it or not, you are living in an age that will be as transformative as World War 2 or the Industrial Revolution.

Unfortunately, with global and personal debt at unprecedented highs and wealth largely concentrated in a small group, we are more likely to see a break down rather than a build-up. Economist John Mauldin calls the impending change, the Great Reset (https://www.mauldineconomics.com/editorial/the-great-reset-is-coming/johnmauldin and https://www.mauldineconomics.com/frontlinethoughts/the-great-reset-part-two). For more ominous reading, reflecting the United States Pluto return, a cycle that takes 247 years to complete, consider Chris Hedges’ book America, the Farewell Tour (here is a video interview: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=moASDiENbfw). Using the US Sibley Chart, the Pluto return will begin in 2020 and end in 2022, but the impact will range over a much longer period starting back in 2016 and extending out until 2026. It really is not hyperbole to say that the America we know today is likely to be vastly different than the one that will exist in 2026.

Adding more dynamic energy to the mix will be the ingress of Chiron out of Pisces and into Aries on February 18. Chiron’s wounding and healing energy has been sharing its time with Neptune for the last eight years. If Chiron had a normal orbit, it would spend roughly four years and a few months in each sign; it returns to itself every 50 years. Therefore, all of us experience a Chiron return from 49 to 51. The journey of Chiron through Pisces is about the wounding and healing of faith, of belief in humanity, of delusion and truth. As it reaches the end of the journey, we see a nearly global attack on truth, facts, and reality and the persistence of truth, facts, and reality. As Chiron enters Aries, where it will be for eight plus years, we will experience the wound and healing around independence, pioneering, and the self. Interestingly, the US will have its 4th Chiron return in 2023 to 2025. The most recent one occurred between 1973 and 1975 and the one before that between 1923 and 1925.
We are not done yet. This year will also include the ingress of Uranus into Taurus on March 6th, bringing shock, insight, and wisdom (Uranus) to the real world (Taurus). Foundations will be shaken, even destroyed, to make room for new insight and new wisdom. The previous Uranus in Taurus transit occurred between 1935 and 1943, in the middle of the Great Depression and bulk of World War 2. Aries energy breaks the rules until there is a need for new rules. This next period of Uranus in Taurus will be the emergence of new rules, new structures, and new foundations. Will many of the Aries bursts make their way into the Taurus establishment; will I be able to buy groceries with bitcoin or get a driverless card a local car dealer ship? Will the cure for cancer finally arrive and become readily available through some kind of prescription? Or will these and other innovations not be part of this zeitgeist? What will?

If I may be so bold as to predict (for an indulgence), I do think that climate change will be the flat earth to round earth global or the earth is the center of the solar system to the sun is the center of the solar system event that will change behavior on every level worldwide. We may be able to cover up debt by monetizing it (printing more money) or just flat out ignoring until a collapse, then use the same thinking that put us in the collapse to try to get out of it (i.e., bailing out the banks that created the crisis rather than breaking them into smaller sizes and taking on the pain of devaluation of resources and greater restrictions on lending), but we will have a hard time ignoring rising sea levels that eventually make beach front property disappear and new beach front property miles and miles inland (https://ocean.si.edu/through-time/ancient-seas/sea-level-rise). Science is merely waiting for its models to show results that affect the common daily life on a regular enough basis to reshape that common daily life. Keep in mind that the recent polar vortex ground 1500 flights (https://www.cnbc.com/2019/01/31/record-cold-grounds-more-than-1500-flights-ups-usps-suspend-service.html) while 2018 was the 4th warmest year on record (https://www.climatecentral.org/gallery/graphics/the-10-hottest-global-years-on-record). Even if the world is naturally “on fire” as part of a warming cycle, it would be more helpful to pour water on it instead of gasoline (we really do not need to be accelerating the warming cycle).
But why is global warming and climate change not embraced; well rather obviously, it would mean making significant changes to human behavior that most people rather enjoy and do not want to give up; especially when they believe a moment of weather is the same thing as year-on-year end climate, which is much harder to easily and simply quantify than, “it’s 30 below in the northern Midwest, so global warming is hoax.” In other words, my reality around me extends around the entire planet.

Now much of what is happening will happen and the vast majority of us will be along for the ride. The question, it seems, is do we want to be on the prow of the ship or in the bowels when we hit iceberg or do we want to be near the life boats and thinking critically about how to live in the now and prepare for a future that will have some pretty amazing advances, even in social behavior, while also weathering the bill collection coming due on years and years of truly reckless behavior. Here is simple truth written about by Jared Dillon, who writes for the Mauldin group, “Debt allows you to enjoy a higher standard of living today, at the expense of having a lower standard of living tomorrow.” You can read the full article that includes this quote at: https://www.mauldineconomics.com/the-10th-man/debt-is-the-enemy-part-2. Additionally, there are minds that see the change as it is happening and one of the most articulate is Bob Lefsetz, who writes profusely about the music industry; here’s a sample of his insight about the gap between the rising generation and the leaving generation: https://lefsetz.com/wordpress/2019/02/10/the-grammy-ratings-will-tank/. He is describing Uranus in Taurus.

Of the recommended thinkers and their writings, I would say John Mauldin and Bob Lefsetz are mostly optimistic about the future; they see the big changes, know they will be hard, but believe the shift will result in a better world once the pain has passed. Chris Hedges is much more of a pessimist and he rather forthrightly acknowledges that his own seminary training comes from the Calvin tradition, which is one of austerity and seeing humans as innately hedonistic who, when left to their own devices and without some kind of comprehensive social and legal justice system, will run amok and eventually harm themselves and everyone else around them. I would put Jared Dillion more squarely in a realist camp, not trying to predict an outcome, but rather waiting to see which outcome will emerge by the chance of happenstance in the moment of crisis while trying to be prepared as possible, living frugally, debt-free, and (gasp!) even below your means (if you can achieve such a lifestyle).

Now, let’s bring this down to the personal level; what does being near a life boat look like? First and foremost, it means being debt free and actually owning your stuff. If you make a car payment or house payment, you do not own those items. If you stop making a payment outside forces will take them away from you because you are borrowing their use until you pay them off. But these debts make sense; one way or another you have to pay to live somewhere and have transportation to get somewhere. If you have a mortgage, you are paying a rent, just one that has the potential (not the guarantee) to earn equity over time, and with a successful sale of the property savings paid to you, at the same or higher value, than when you bought it. Credit card debt is essentially living beyond your means. A student loan is only worthwhile if the job you get from the education pays for the loan and your life, with room to grow. How does this fit into a blog about astrology; essentially astrology is suggesting the time line. How the ship hits the iceberg is really just a guess, but how likely, under current leadership and behavior of the passengers is it likely to happen; well, I think can be predicted with some range of accuracy, not through clairvoyance, but the accumulation of facts and postulates (http://newsfeed.time.com/2012/04/14/author-predicts-titanic-sinking-14-years-earlier/). I am placing my bets on 2020. Trust me when I say I would rather not see such a tragedy repeated, but human behavior and astrological indicators are converging towards that outcome.

Each of these transits is happening at the individual level, which is where it really concerns me and you, and me as a spiritual adviser to you or others who seek out my services. Jupiter is moving through the part of my chart involving my resources; this is a year for me to get the most of out my resources, gain from wise investment, including making improvements to my property, mainly to help my business and without incurring debt to get this done. I recently took down a play structure and opened up the back yard to more options for business work with clients outside. I re-purposed some of the material to add new steps my office entry. Saturn and Pluto are moving through the part of my chart that deals with communication and my goals for my work and my understanding of what is needed to succeed at what I do. I started this business in 2013 under the Pluto transit, which began in 2008. It grew nicely while Jupiter moved through Scorpio and my area of identity and while Saturn moved through Sagittarius and my personal resources (i.e., using my home as my office) between 2014 and 2016 when I really got traction out in the world for my business.

Chiron and Neptune have been working in area of life dealing with my creativity, my child, and life purpose. I had to overcome a complete mental and emotional breakdown (2009 to 2011) and am currently doing the healing work of my Chiron return (age 50 at the writing and soon to be 51). All along, I have consulted my chart and worked with colleagues to navigate this energy in the best possible way, and so far, when I step back and look at where I am and how I got here, things have turned out very well. I am extremely grateful, and so I see the value of the tools of astrology and tarot/oracle cards in my own life journey, which is why I offer them to you and others who find their way to me. All of us, I believe, chose to be here during this profound period of change, just as the souls chose the period of the Great Depression and World War 2. Maybe we get the world John Mauldin envisions or maybe the one Chris Hedges sees; we will certainly get something very different than what we currently have in the next 5 years.

My astrology helps me see what is coming, not in a fated way, but in a creative way. Your astrology does the same for you, which is why so many new people are finding their way to this tool and getting useful insights to help make life the best it can be under the circumstances we are all bound up in.

The first question we all try to answer is, “Who am I?” The second question is “Who am I in relation to someone else?” Astrology can help you answer both of these questions, and most people seek me out to help them see what their astrology has to offer them in answer to these two questions. There is a good chance, at some point, if you have looked into astrology as a way to understand yourself and who you could best relate to you that you have heard something like, “if you are a Leo, stay away from Scorpio or Pisces and Cancer can really share emotions”. It’s true that astrology can help you understand attraction, frustration, empathy, lust, love, and so many other things about yourself and your interaction with another, but to get the full value of the tool, you need a lot more than just your Sun sign. If fact, your starting point should really be your Moon sign, which is the point that shows how you prefer to give and receive love and emotional intimacy. Unfortunately most people do not know their Moon sign the way they know their Sun sign, largely because the Moon moves through a sign in a day and half while the Sun moves through a sign over a month. Even if you know your Sun and Moon, you are still far more complex than these two points; there is also Mercury for communication, Venus for relating, Mars for passion, Jupiter for beliefs, Saturn for structure, and so on. Each point add beyond your Sun sign increases your understanding of yourself and how you relate to others.

The difference between Sun sign astrology and a professionally rendered and interpreted birth chart is like the difference between a single gear bicycle and the mechanics of the space shuttle. With that difference in mind I decided to work on a relationship assessment report for clients that is based on your unique chart design. This report is custom crafted, not “canned”, for the individual in question, you! The report is about 5 to 6 pages long and looks at 18 points in the chart to get to the core design of your relationship make up. Some of what you read will feel comforting and confirming, some may actually challenge you (until you look at the actual behavior and outcomes in your relationship history). I often say that astrology is not politically correct, meaning that some charts indicate a relationship design for “bread winning” in, say, a woman’s chart, and “child-reading” in a man’s chart. You may not be designed for monogamy or for “playing around”. You may be designed to speak out, think critically, or be submissive (in privacy while being aggressive publicly or vice versa). Often you are a complex mix. And the more you understand your astrological design, the better and more honest you can be, with yourself and in relationship with others, be it a friendship, a family member, or a romance.

Here are links to two sample reports; one for a man and one for a woman. The document for each shows the chart layout that is used to write the report. Points are interpreted by their position in the chart and their specific energized connections with other points (the “circuit board” that you see in the middle of the chart).

Woman’s relationship assessment report

Man’s relationship assessment report

Your report can be purchased one of two ways. You can order just the written report for $100 or you can order the written report plus a 30 minute consultation (in person or over the phone) for $150. To order a report, please visit my Make an Appointment page.

Wimpy from Popeye

From the cartoon Popeye, J. Wellington Wimpy, circa 1934

My grandfather, Kenneth (Ken) Welborn, lived to be 96; he was born in 1919. I knew him my entire life as Papa. My grandmother, Ruby Anderson Welborn passed in 2003; I knew her as Nana. They were born and raised in Wilkes County, North Carolina, one of the most rural parts of NC. They grew up on farms and both came from families with 8 siblings. Ruby was the oldest of hers and Ken was in the middle on the younger side. They eventually settled in Winston-Salem for the majority of their working lives and lived in a trailer park in Clemmons, NC. That trailer park was my personal Nirvana from the time I was born until about 16 when they moved back up to Wilkes county. Papa was a truck driver and Nana worked for Reynolds and AT&T. They started life, literally, dirt poor. Papa and Nana both worked in tobacco growing up, doing real, hard labor work. They were the very definition of “salt of the earth” people. And they loved me in a way everyone should have a chance to feel love. There are books worth of stories and insights and lessons to share, but I want focus on one in particular that I think important to share today, and it has to do with money.

People can feel an economic depression looming; I would hazard its that deep worry that helped propel Britain out of the European Union and Donald Trump into the White House. It is fomenting nationalism and isolationism, very common and historically patterned reactions to economic downturns. The 2008 recession was a shot across the bow, but not a direct hit. After all, a depression is a reset mechanism that occurs when a system gets too far out balance. It happens at a personal level when people get too far out of balance and at a national or global level when economies get too far out of balance. What does this have to do with my grandfather? Well, if you note his birth year, you will know he was 10 years old when the stock market crashed in 1929 and he lived his formative years entirely through the Great Depression. This was a fact largely obvious to me until I started studying and enjoying the study of history in high school. That interest really deepened when I went to college and elected to be a history major. My degree focus was ancient history, but I still enjoyed and did take a number of American history classes, including ones dealing with the period of the Roaring 20’s and the Great Depression.

On a break from school I went to visit Papa and we were out on our way to a used bookstore, one of our favorite shared past times. He was a voracious reader of western novels and I was still doing some comic book collecting. It really hit me that I had a person in my life who had lived through the Great Depression and I was excited to ask him “all about it”, as if his living in the experience would also translate into a full understanding of the experience as I read about it in textbooks, watched in documentaries, or fictional dramas. We got in his truck and I was buzzing with anticipation to ask him, “what was it like growing up in the Great Depression?” So I did, and here’s what he told me … “What depression?” There was a pause, then he continued on in what I can only describe as his “down to earth” way of making a point. “Grandson, I was poor on a poor farm in Wilkesboro, my normal was other people’s depression.” And, well, that was pretty much our discussion of the Great Depression. But my question did prompt him to share more with me about money and how he related to it growing up poor. He lived long enough to see the rise of credit, but he had no use for it. For him, and Nana, it was something people used to get what they did not deserve. In his mind, if you wanted it, you saved for it, then you bought. And more importantly, you usually saved 20% more than what was needed to buy it. I asked him why he needed to save more and his answer, “to get it repaired when it breaks.”

Whoa! Save first, and more than you need, then get it! When I got on campus in 1986 one of the first “things” thrown at me were credit card applications. I was told, you need to “build your credit”, basically by going into to debt and climbing out of it and back into it and back out of it. No bank would want to loan you money if you could not show a need for it. In other words, you could not just borrow money for the sake of, say, protecting your cash while you took a risk. No, you actually need to be at risk to take a risk. Well, let’s see, how has that panned out, for people you know or the world at large. Like most young people I went the way of my culture and my generation, which can be appropriately labeled the generation of debt. We are not Generation X, but Generation Debt. Most people live in a debtor’s prison now. It does not have bars, but it is just as restrictive. And it’s a top down learned behavior. What poverty taught my grandfather was “delayed gratification”. If he wanted to gratify himself with a refrigerator or television or car, he was delayed until he had enough money to buy those things outright and have some excess to take care of repairs. My grandfather managed his money growing up out of necessity and then kept following that learning throughout his life. He always carried cash and only started using a credit card late in life. I did not really fully get the lesson until a few years ago. I have a credit card, for what it really needs to be … an emergency back up in an extreme situation.

But here’s an interesting wrinkle in this post, the real money lesson comes not from Papa, but Nana. He was actually okay with money; she was a master. When she passed it was revealed, and a revelation, that she had saved a significant amount of money. Nana was not just about delayed gratification, but disciplined to the degree that she used money only for needs and saved all the rest. My grandfather got to live in his home and have all his needs – car, food, entertainment – met until 95, when he had to be moved to a care facility in Apex, NC, because of Nana’s hardcore (by any measure) discipline about money. She was a true futurist, a real and practical financial planner. She is my financial hero. With them in mind, I have had to ask myself, what life do I really want? What life to do I deserve based on how I work, what I choose to do for work, and how much I want to work? I am not going to be writing any fiscal policy any time soon, and I will certainly be “at the mercy” of the Federal Reserve because of my station in life. Near zero interest rates are not, in any way, encouraging me to borrow money. In fact, its very much the opposite. I am working in every way I can to save, and avoid debt. I own a 1994 Ford Ranger pickup that was a gift from my daughter’s mother; she paid $1500 for it in 2008 and gave it to me after we stopped being together as a couple in 2013. After my grandfather passed, I inherited his 2012 Ford Focus. I have no car payments and I make sure to have money on hand for repairs to both.

If you look at the national debt and the global debt, then you will know that we are living in a borrowed world and on borrowed time. And none of the current policies are making any real effort to correct this behavior. I think about my grandparents every day, for many reasons, but lately I have been thinking about them regarding how they learned about money, how they treated it, and how they saved it. It was a matter of necessity while they were growing up; they were poor. But they also “escaped” (their words) the farm and built successful lives slowly, diligently, and … well, simply. In 2014, on a trip to visit Papa while he was still living in Wilkesboro, I decided to pull off at the Clemmons exit, which was along the 421 N route to his place and see if the trailer park still existed. It did, and it was a time warp. It looked exactly the same as it did in 1978 when I was 10 years old visiting Nana and Papa. It was the safest place on earth for me, and one of my happiest, and … well, honestly, my happiest place. I was able to stop there, close my eyes, and remember reading comic books on the floor while Papa sat in his recliner reading his western novel and Nana made fried chicken (with Crisco!) and mashed potatoes and green beans and homemade buttermilk biscuits for dinner. The TV had rabbit ears and I got to experience heaven on earth.

I remember when I first came across an article suggesting that many of the top astrologers were gathering and would hold a panel to predict the outcome of the Presidency; all I could think was “don’t do it.” When I was asked about predicting the outcome I suggested an even more Uranian outcome than the one many will feel occurred, that somehow neither candidate would be elected. In the end the astrologers who were prominent on the panel and prominent in astrology unanimously predicted Hillary Clinton, and unanimously failed. It is so darn tempting to predict outcomes in the future and clients often desperately want that cheat. Heck, I want that cheat from time to time. But there is a reason the outermost energy points all trump Saturn, which rules structure. One is about shocking change, Uranus; one is about mysterious change, Neptune; and one is about violent change, Pluto. Right now two of these points are in Cardinal signs (which initiate energy), Uranus in Aries and Pluto in Capricorn, and the other is in the sign of its rulership, Neptune in Pisces (which is a mutable, changeable energy). Saturn is currently in Sagittarius, a mutable sign and more than a year short of reaching its rulership sign of Capricorn. Astrologers trying to predict the outcome of the election was like making a whip cream pie and then smashing it on their own faces.

Any one who wants to really put the screws to astrology will now have ample fodder, thanks to astrologers themselves. Event prediction and the use of the word science to describe astrology have always been, in my thoughts, unhelpful and actually damaging. I have no problem predicting energy patterns, but predicting particular outcomes … no. Brexit, Trump, and many particular outcomes yet to arise that will shake civilization as we currently recognize it will continue to unfold in the wake of the Uranus/Pluto square, which occurred between 2012 and 2015 (7 times no less). Not surprisingly Clinton represented more of the status quo while Trump represented the more attractive idea of “going back” to a time when the world felt more stable, and, in fact, it did. I am not saying it was more stable, just that it “felt” more stable. It certainly felt more stable to me than it does now, and astrologically speaking, it was. I have written and spoken on many occasions about how all the outer planets are in Cardinal or Mutable signs and only one will be moving in to a fixed sign in 2018, Uranus, and that one is a point that is about shocking change, and it will be entering Taurus, which has to do with foundations and possessions. With Uranus in Aries over the last 6 years, we have actually seen tremendous leaps in innovation, a hallmark of this energy. I am comfortable “predicting” that we will experience shocks to our possessions and foundations, even moreso than now, when that period of Uranus’ travel takes place. Neptune is in a mutable sign and 10 years away from leaving Pisces to enter Aries, a Cardinal sign. Pluto still has 8 more years in Capricorn before entering Aquarius, the least “predictable” of the fixed signs. The ride, as the say, is still only in the beginning stages.

Trump also represents a very predictable result even if a lot of people do not want to see it – charisma is more appealing in difficult times than sober realism. One thing I noted significantly in Trump’s chart is its ability to amplify charisma, which his soul has plenty of. I tell clients that the chart is NOT the person, but merely the vehicle of the soul and it matters how the soul drives it. Clinton has the charisma of a plank of wood and chart not designed for charismatic expression. Because I have a unique background as an academic turned spiritual adviser I use astrology as one of my many tools when addressing any issue. I was academically trained as a historian and a skeptic. Academic training requires reading a lot of material, engaging in discussions with other people who have read a lot of material, and being tested over and over again about what you have learned. One thing history shows over and over again is the prominence of charismatic leaders, for good or ill. In a battle between charisma and logic, charisma wins more often than it loses; the recent case in point notches another victory in that particular historical belt. When being trained as a skeptic, you are taught various forms of argument, namely what are know as “types of appeal”; they are logos, pathos, and ethos. Logos is an appeal to logic; pathos is an appeal to emotion; and ethos is an appeal to reputation or experience. In my observation, appeals to pathos/emotion, put forth by a charismatic speaker, will win almost every time, no matter how strong the logos/logic or ethos/experience of the other speaker. The British and American elites have plenty of logic and experience to flout and they still got squarely punched in the face by emotion.

People, at large, may not be able to fully articulate what they are feeling, but they are definitely feeling unsafe and insecure, and distrustful. And they want things to change, by not changing so much or so rapidly. Which brings me back to astrology and how it can be at its most useful at this time. For any professional astrologer tempted to predict an outcome, for a client or a event – Stop! Do not get sucked into that process no matter how tempting, resist! Astrology is an organic experience that actually works best in change, not by showing you the outcome, but by helping you navigate along the way of the changes. Astrology has kept me calm through this entire election cycle, not because it showed me an outcome (I didn’t even care to look), but because it has shown me the size and likely duration of the storm; its huge and its likely to last another 20 to 30 years, not 2 to 3! I looked at the charts of Hillary and Trump as if either would be president and what I should know considering either outcome. When I look to my chart or the charts of my clients – when I look to the heavens – I am looking for insights, not answers. I have to find my answers daily, monthly, and yearly doing my own personal, public, and life work. Astrology helps me guide myself; it does not tell me what to do or “show me the answers”.

The election and Trump’s election is not the real issue, but a reflection of the deeper issues, which have to do with debt (personal, local, state, federal, and global), the (mis)use of resources, wars causing population migration, and shifting social values. I also understand where I am in relation to these issues and the scale of them. If you would like insight into your unique journey within this period of the cosmic drama, then I invite you explore your astrology, with me, on your own, or with another professional. It will not give you the future outcomes, but it can help you navigate the current chaos.

Astrology is a very diverse tool with many uses. Most clients come see me to ask about relationship, career, family, health, and relocation; and astrology can provide insight into each of these areas in various and powerful ways. At the core of all the reading experiences are the individual story of the birth chart and the lived story of the client up to the point of the first reading session. An astrology reading is, in essence, all about you! It is an individualistic experience best engaged through dialogue with the client and the astrologer; it is organic and customized. One size does not fit all. When people find out I am an astrologer they often, unprompted, provide me with their birth sign or they will ask me to “guess” their Sun sign, hoping, I think, for an amazing insight with either an obscure amount of information or some observable phenomenon about them that will provide accurate markers for their Sun sign. That is not astrology; it can be a good parlor trick if you can pull it off, but it in no way demonstrates the real power of an astrology reading.

An astrology reading is a spiritual quest and I join you as a fellow traveler who helps you read the map so you can go in the direction that helps you grow the most, or so you can weather a difficult storm in your life, or so you feel confirmed about your choices and experiences. Astrology is not a science, but a creative knowing, and it is a co-creative knowing when you visit someone like me to get your chart read for the first time and any times afterward as life continues to unfold. So, the first use of astrology is improving self-awareness and self-direction, unlocking the code of your potential, your purpose, your limitations, your blind spots, your gifts, and your challenges. Even if you come for a reading for the first time based on a particular issue, the first step is looking at your core through the astrological lens and making sure what we see in the chart is aligned with what you understand and have experienced about your self. The second use of astrology is as an ongoing spiritual tool for reassessment, for guidance through change, a spark out stagnation, and as an evolving map that evolves as you evolve. Astrology is alive! It is not fixed; it is not data. It is fluid; it is interpretation in circumstance, which is why it helps to revisit your chart regularly or when you are in a strong phase of change or feel the need to activate a strong phase of change.

Clients will often ask me after a first reading when to consider another reading. At the minimum I suggest getting a reading each time your birthday comes around. We do not do a birth day reading, but rather what we astrologers call a Solar Return reading. This chart is cast for the day and time currently when the Sun returns to the exact degree it was in when you were born; sometimes this is on the day of your birth, sometimes the day before or after, but always near your birth day. This chart lets us peer into the year ahead energetically; we can see triggers and emphasis and offer you insights to pay attention to as you forward into another year’s life cycle. We can also look back at your past year and ask you how it played out. If you enjoy regular check in’s, a monthly cycle for readings is plenty and I have a few clients who enjoy this type of regular check in by way of a report or an hour phone consultation every time the Sun goes from one sign to another. What is important to understand about your astrology is that it is not static; it is changing as you grow and it is available for you to leverage at any time you need.  There are even certain times and ages that are key to all of our human growth, like age 27 to 29 when your Saturn returns to its original degree, or 36 to 38 when Pluto challenges itself at a 90 degree angle, or 41 to 43 when Uranus opposes itself at 180 degrees. In each of your individual journeys these common patterns will express in powerfully transformative ways and the astrologer can “fellow travel” with you through these spiritual periods of upheaval and growth.

After getting a good insight into your own complex energy, you can then use astrology in a host of other ways, which I will list below:

  • Relationships – looking at your chart and the chart of anyone else (a romantic partner, a friend, a parent, a child, a boss, an employee, and on and on). These readings have a special astrological name; they are synastry readings.
  • Location and Relocation – looking at your chart in relation to the world map to learn about energy lines and how locations will affect your energy field, for work, family, vacation, education, and romance). These readings are done using a technique called astrocartography.
  • Career and Calling – looking at your chart focused on issues of finance, skills, and long-term prosperity.
  • Health – looking at energy patterns around health dynamics (not medical diagnosis), periods of susceptibility to illness, or duration for an ongoing health struggle, in spiritual rather than allopathic terms.
  • Key Events – the best time to set a wedding date or open a business; learn about the “birth chart” of key moments in your life like receiving your diploma, losing a job, being involved in an accident, or signing a contract. These are known as mundane readings.
  • Immediate Questions – casting a chart for the moment of the reading about a certain question, or a lost object, or a key decision that needs immediate insight. These readings are done using horary chart techniques and interpretations.

As you can see there are many, many different uses for astrology; all designed to help you along your journey in a conscious, creative, and thoughtful way. The astrology reading is not about determination – this will happen to you in this way at this time – but rather about awareness – during this time frame you will have access to this energy or feel pressure in this area of your life for growth; what do you need to know to help you navigate the experiences with grace, which may be about weathering a storm or using sunny days to excel further than you ever have before.

My work ebbs and flows, alternating between frenetic periods of client work, events, and various professional opportunities and lulls that afford me time to write, revamp my website, and do some professional development, which largely involves reading books from the stack that slowly accumulates by recommendation or interest. There is a lull now that is giving me a chance to read and think and write, hence the two blog posts in one day. My previous post was about the credentials one should have to be a spiritual adviser; this one is to be about what it means to choose to be a spiritual adviser.

When I was deciding about my next professional steps back in 2013, I struggled to think of the title I wanted to apply to my work. Some titles require very specific credentials and certain kinds of state accreditation, like psychotherapist or licensed clinical social worker (LCSW). Various forms of counselling can only be performed with proper certification and or degrees (mediator, marriage/divorce counselor, and so on). Coaching has become the de facto professional form for lateral movement from traditional professions to open field consulting, including health and wellness, life, and financial coaches. These are successful people making connections with others to help them become successful or invigorated about their lives. Due to the particular nature of my own life experience, I even rolled around priest, which I am (Order of Melchizedek), shaman, psychic, and magician (not the stage performing kind, but the Dungeons and Dragons, Lord of the Rings kind). I could have stuck with professional astrologer and tarot/oracle card reader, but even then those were not the only tools I used when working with people. I finally settled on Spiritual Adviser. I am a temporary – sometimes once and done, sometimes ongoing – co-creator, companion, and fellow traveler with the clients who come to see me. It is the fellow traveler idea that I want to expand and expound upon in this blog.

As I mentioned before, I find myself in quiet energy that is giving me some time to read and contemplate. Very recently I was able to dig deeper into a book I had purchased months ago entitled You Don’t Really Believe in Astrology Do You? by Pam Gregory, which lead me to explore a new astrology technique, Solar Arcs. The definitive text for Solar Arcs is by Noel Tyl, entitled, cleverly enough, Solar Arcs. Purchasing this book and reading it lead me to other of Tyl’s books, including one he edited for Llewellyn Publications in 1995 entitled Communicating the Horoscope. It was the third essay by Haloli Q. Richter entitled “Creative Listening and Empathy” that struck a profound and deep cord with me. She uses the term “fellow traveler” on page 59 and in the next paragraph wrote this sentence, “Listening to another in any role is precious, but for the professional helper, it becomes a sacred task.”

I consider what I do a sacred task.

I believe this task, of helping, of listening, of offering what insights I can, through life experience; tools like astrology, the tarot/oracle cards, and the I-Ching; techniques like muscle testing; professional academic training; and my own natural intuitive skills, is very sacred. We can all benefit from seeing our lives in spiritual ways. I agree with her that the hoped for effect “is that the client lives more awarely, is more in touch with the cycles of his or her life, and enjoys the ritual sharing of intimate information with the [spiritual adviser].” (61) And I do think that “the client who finds an empathic listener and intuitive interpreter of the horoscope discovers personal gold.” (64) I know that many people who seek out an astrologer or other type of spiritual practitioner often hope we will be able to “outsmart” the universe for them and help them avoid pain or guarantee happiness. I have days when I want my colleagues to do just that for me. They laugh, and I laugh. We know that we are here to help you with your personal mystery, but we cannot solve that mystery for you. We can share the journey with you at very crucial times in incredibly supportive ways that do not unfold in other support systems. Astrology, tarot cards, the I-Ching, palm reading, rune casting and so on are imaginative forms of creative knowing. And we can all access them if we so choose.

I happen to have made it my professional skill and embraced it as my personal calling to be an adviser to people in need, experiencing crisis or bogged down in stagnation. In many ways I am qualified by way of the efforts and time I have put into learning various crafts, pushing so far as to write my own beginning astrology book, Astrology Unlocked, and working with a phenomenal artist/photographer, Sasha Campbell, to create a tarot deck, the Tarot of the Human Experience. But more deeply I find that people respond to the “heart of the interpreter” (66) as much as the skill. A spiritual advising session is personal and intimate and focused squarely on the unique experiences and needs of the person seeking my service. The many goals of spiritual advising include: uplifting, facing down, re-imagining, uncovering, sharing, exposing, wrestling with, accepting, revealing, acknowledging, critically assessing, laughing, commiserating, challenging, and appraising the journey of the client, often all of these in each session. Done properly, even when facing difficult challenges, the experience is empowering.

I am grateful for this work and this opportunity to help.

I think it is safe to say that we want anyone doing any type of work for us to be competent and capable. If we are honest, we would prefer for them to be exceptional. For work involving our physical and mental health we especially want to know if the person has the credentials to do the work well; they have “a qualification, achievement, personal quality, or aspect of a person’s background, typically when used to indicate that they are suitable for something.” The most common forms of credentials include documentation proving certain levels of academic and/or professional training, including various academic degrees – Bachelor of Arts/Science (BA/BS), Masters of Arts/Science (MA/MS), or Doctor of Philosophy/Law/Medicine (PhD/JD/MD) – and professional certifications and licenses. When I tell people I am a professional spiritual adviser, the word professional triggers some people to ask me, “so what are your credentials?” With that in mind I wanted to write this post to share three interesting exchanges I recently had that gave me insight into people’s perceptions and reactions to me and the type of service I provide.

Each year I participate in body, mind, and spirit expos locally and within driving distance of my home in Cary, North Carolina. In July 2016 I attended an event in Virginia Beach, Virginia. I had a 10 X 10 booth and the organizers provided me with a basic sign which had my name followed by my academic degree letters, PhD. I have my Doctor of Philosophy in English from the University of North Carolina at Greensboro (1996). Towards the end of the second day, four young women walked by my booth; they were probably in their early 20’s. One of them stopped and asked me what my PhD was in. It was not that she asked, but the way she asked that was important; it was a condescending tone. Tone of voice, facial expression, and body language can convey a tremendous amount of unspoken but culturally significant information. Behind her tone was, “I bet its one of those pretender PhD’s, probably online from a group desperate for legitimacy that somehow finagled a way to get some accreditation in a state with low standards or at the bottom of the federal compliance standards.” So, here’s how the exchange went (imagine the tone I just described) …

Her: “So what’s your PhD in?”
Me: “English; I taught for 17 years at the university level.” (delivered with a bemused smile).
Her: “Oh” (posture and demeanor shifts completely)
Me: “Yes, I have a legitimate PhD” (bigger smile, knowing exchange, she smiles back)

She and her friends stayed to chat for a few moments after that and went on their way. The experience shifted them because they were not expecting my PhD to be in a field they actually respected from a traditional academic system they were either a part of or graduated from. They had been thrown into a state of cognitive dissonance – “the state of having inconsistent thoughts, beliefs, or attitudes, especially as relating to behavioral decisions and attitude change” – which is the state of mind where epiphanies happen, those moments when we “achieve realization, awareness or a feeling of knowledge” after which events or understanding are seen through the prism of new light in our life journey.

Fast forward to October of 2016 and I found myself lined up to do two different special events, tarot/oracle card readings at a modern clothing store, the Art of Style boutique in downtown Raleigh, and a Victorian Literature conference at the Doubletree Hilton, also in Raleigh, just down from North Carolina State University. The boutique event preceded the conference.

The reading event at the boutique was nice and busy, a steady flow of readings from the beginning at 6 until around 7:30 when things began to slow. During a lull, a woman approached me and asked, “So, what are you credentials?” Once again, the tone is lost in just reading the text. This woman was older than the one from the expo in Virginia, right at 30 and clearly a professional, which is who the boutique caters to. Here tone was not condescending, but challenging. This approach made me smile too. Here’s the exchange:

Her: “So, what are your credentials?”
Me: “Do you want my muggle credentials or my real life credentials?”
Her: “I want to hear your real life credentials.”
Me: “Okay, I’ll give you just a sample. I have cheated on someone, I have helped someone cheat, and I have been cheated on. I know all the various experiences of fidelity and infidelity.”
Her: “Oh, wow, that was not the answer I expected, but that sure makes sense. I was not planning to get a reading, but now I will.”
Me: “Fantastic!”
Her: “Just curious, what’s your muggle credentials?”
Me: “I have a PhD in English from UNCG.”
Her: “Wow, didn’t see that one coming either.”

She then sat down and we did her reading and had great experience together and some further conversation afterwards. I have a number of life experiences that I have transitioned through that deeply inform my spiritual practice, including but not limited to:

  • being adopted,
  • moving every year I was in grade school in the middle of the school year from first grade to seventh,
  • married for 10 years and divorced (2003),
  • a second 10 year relationship that included the birth of my daughter (2005),
  • retiring from my very “protected” university job to become a stay-at-home father (2007),
  • experiencing severe anxiety/depression for several years that reached suicidal depths (2009 to 2011).
  • emerging from that period to start my professional spiritual advising business in 2013 and getting to work with clients from around the world,
  • and so on.

The last experience I want to share occurred just this past Saturday (as of the writing and posting of this blog). Much of what I do happens through divine serendipity and synchronicity. Every month, sometimes several times a month, I read tarot/oracle cards at an underground bar in Durham, North Carolina, appropriately named Arcana. I was scheduled to read one Wednesday night several weeks ago and one of the owners asked me to bring my Steampunk Tarot deck because a graduate student from the Victorian Studies department at one of the local major universities, who had found the bar, was looking for some entertainment for the after party for the conference he was helping to run. Steampunk is a genre of science fiction that typically features steam-powered machinery rather than advanced technology and characters are dressed in the clothing and attire of the late 18th and early 19th century. We met and I did a reading for him and talked academic “shop” one PhD in English major completed to one “getting his PhD” in English. He decided to hire me for the party.

Historically, the Victorian Literature period spans from 1837 to 1901 in alignment with the reign of Queen Victoria. It was during this span of time that tarot cards started to become part of the gypsy culture in Europe and were used for divination. The Hermetic Order of the Golden Dawn also originated during this time (1888) and developed one of the three decks (1910) that is usually copied by modern tarot writers and artists (the other two are the Rider/Waite Tarot, 1910, and the Thoth Tarot, 1969). So the group I would be reading for would be very familiar with tarot and very familiar with practices of interpretation.

The reading situation, based on the feel of the people coming in, would be something they would choose to do “on a lark”, just for fun and amusement. The people filling this room would be the most “in the know” professionals, ranging from tenured professors to PhD graduate students, people operating at the highest echelon of a particular body of knowledge. While doing the readings were immensely fun, handing them my business card and waiting for them to read it and ask me what my PhD was in was even more enjoyable. Once again, the shift in attitude and engagement was dramatic. I used to be part of their world; I knew their jargon and what it took and takes to earn the degree. For them, my life experience was not nearly as shifting as my academic degree, which lead to some very interesting “hypothesizing” about the design of the cards and intent of the imagery used in the Steampunk deck and structure of meaning in the suits and major arcana of the deck of cards.  We were “rigorous” with each other, and for academics, that’s how they play and get fulfilled.

These experiences, so close together, made me revisit the thought of credentials and what are mine and why do they matter. For most of my clients my PhD is somewhat nebulous, but they intuitively know, if not actually, that it takes quite a bit of dedication and a certain kind of “smarts” to earn one. It is appreciated, but not really sufficient for them to feel like I will be able to help them in their journey. They do not want an “academic” evaluation of what brought them in to see me, though they can appreciate how that training helps me use complex tools (astrology and/or tarot/oracle cards) in a way that is accessible to them. No, what I observe from clients is that they want to look me in the eyes, engage me energetically, and know that I know what it means to be “rode hard and put back wet” by life, that I can speak from experience about heartache, passion, loss, child rearing, career changing, despair, and on and on and on. And its not just that I have experienced these feelings and situations, but that I see purpose in them, for my own journey, which guides me to help them (you!) see purpose in their (your) own journey. I have peered into the abyss more than once; sometimes I blinked, but most times I let it stare back at me and I learned. It is what I learned in that staring contest that really informs my credentials.

“Beware that, when fighting monsters, you yourself do not become a monster… for when you gaze long into the abyss. The abyss gazes also into you.” ― Friedrich Nietzsche