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Articles and BooksEcoAstrology: Finding Our Way Home
eBook, 167 pages, $20

This is a compilation of notes from all the astrology classes, lectures, and workshops I have taught, plus excerpts from my Mountain Astrologer magazine articles.

The language of astrology is the language of the evolution of consciousness. For those in the helping professions and healing arts, and anyone interested in personal and spiritual growth, it is the voice of the soul and the song of spirit. These class notes and excerpts are designed to give you a good grasp of astrology from a psycho-spiritual point of view, helping you to remember who you are and what you came to do at this critical time on Earth.

Section One describes the historical origins and modern applications of astrology, the importance of mythology and symbols, the relationship between astrology and science, and the values of astrology as a diagnostic tool in psychotherapy, education, and the healing arts.

Section Two outlines the basics of a spiritual approach to astrology -- signs, planets, houses, aspects, lunar nodes, retrogrades, plus reading lists and websites for further study. These pages correspond to the Level I recordings.

Section Three details more advanced material: transits and progressions, medical astrology, synastry, vocation, relocation, astrological counseling issues, and a sample template for chart interpretation. These pages correspond to Level II recordings.

Section Four has excerpts gleaned from my new and full moon column in the Mountain Astrologer magazine, divided into sections on the signs, planets, influences from beyond our solar system, eclipses, the Turning of the Ages, and a page of my favorite quotes.

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Life After Twinkies: A Holistic Guide to Dietary Change
eBook, 92 pages, $15

It has been said that we teach best what we have had to learn. A serious illness forced me to begin examining the relationship between diet and health, and eventually led me to a much deeper understanding of myself and life. For twenty years I studied various healing arts, from Macrobiotics, Ayurveda, and Tibetan Medicine to Homeopathy, Naturopathy, and Vibrational Medicine. These studies, plus degrees in Psychology and Consciousness Studies, provided me with the basis for the first half of this book--how the body works, and how it is a system of interrelated processes. Professional experience as a medical social worker, natural foods chef, and nutritional consultant has given me a wealth of practical knowledge, which is the source for the second half of the book--how to transition from processed to whole foods, and to a healthier way of life in as easy and enjoyable way as possible.

How we deal with food is a metaphor for how we deal with life. If we are not attending to our physical requirements, we are very likely neglecting our emotional and spiritual needs as well. Real food, and the right foods give us the energy we need for actualizing our fullest potential. Nutrition keeps us alive; nourishment helps us grow. This book is about nourishment. Bon appetite!

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OR
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Survival Tips for 2011 and Beyond
published in the Dec-Jan 2011 Issue of the Mountain Astrologer magazine

Take radical responsibility. Think out of the box. Trust your intuition. Choose Love.

Aries: Remember these are unprecedented times. What worked before may be totally ineffective, or even detrimental now. Hold “beginner’s mind”. Suspend preconceptions. Do NIA, Aikido, jog. Watch The Gladiator, Endurance. Read The Way of Peaceful Warrior.

Taurus: Beauty opens the heart and feeds the soul. Create as much beauty as possible in your life. Sell or give away whatever you don’t use, need, or doesn’t make you smile.
Garden. Sing. Play music. Watch Chocolat, Ratatouille. Read The Little Money Bible.

Gemini: What we are thinking, we are praying for. Monitor your thoughts, speech, and media exposure. “The news” is more than just about natural or manmade disasters.
Journal. Watch Jon Stewart’s Daily Show. Learn Nonviolent Communication (cnvc.org)

Cancer: Listen to your feelings; they are your spiritual GPS, telling you whether you are on your path or a detour. Ask every few hours: What am I needing right now? Nurture yourself. Take a nap, a bath, a walk. Watch Evening, My Family, Read God Herself.

Leo: Do what brings YOU joy. You are unique. When you don’t express and live your truth, the world is a poorer place. Listen to your heart; it knows more than your mind.
Sing. Dance. Create. Watch The Lion King, Billie Elliot. Read The Artist’s Way, Wishcraft.

Virgo: Be particular. Don’t judge; just focus on what is helpful, efficient, and essential. Listen to and take good care of your body; it’s your space suit and divine vehicle.
Do yoga or Qigong. Watch The Tale of Despereaux. Once. Read Taming Your Gremlin.

Libra: Peace is an inside job. Notice what throws you out of balance. Where are you giving out more than you are receiving? Where do you need to speak up, or renegotiate?
Take a couples dance class. Watch Mr. And Mrs. Smith. Read If the Buddha Married

Scorpio: Make friends with your shadow. Opposites attract, so we can become whole. Whatever we love OR hate reflects some aspect of our unconscious. Face your fears.
Do EFT, EMDR. Watch The Shadow Effect, Departures. Read Betrayal, Trust, & Forgiveness

Sagittarius: Question all assumptions. What applied before may not be true now. Ask yourself daily: What’s the lesson here? What matters most right now? Do a vision quest. Travel. Watch Inception, What the Bleep Do We Know? Read The Power of Myth.

Capricorn: Live your ethics, your integrity. What are YOUR goals and standards for success? Are you doing what you want, or what you think you SHOULD be doing?
Take an Outward Bound course. Watch The Matrix. Read The Corporate Mystic.

Aquarius: Question Authority. Collaborate with like-minded souls. We are all in this together; everyone counts, everyone matters, everyone can and does make a difference. Create community. Watch Patch Adams, Erin Brockovich. Read Three Cups of Tea.

Pisces: Be in gratitude as much as possible. “Everything is either love, or a call for love” (Course in Miracles). Trust your intuition, study your dreams, listen to your heart.
Meditate. Pray. Watch Groundhog Day, Gandhi. Read The Marriage of Spirit, Earth to Tao.

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Decoding Your Birthchart

by Stephanie Austin M.A.
published in the Mountain Astrologer Magazine, June 1993

Life is a journey. And our birthchart is a map of where we want to go. It details the directions we want to explore, the challenges we'll meet, and the gifts we'll have to bring back to others.

At first the signposts can look quite intimidating. Planets, signs, aspects, houses are just the basics. Then there are asteroids, midpoints, rulerships, transits and progressions to add in and relocation, synastry, and numerous other techniques and applications. Where do we start? And where does it end?

The key to making sense of it all is to understand how everything is part of a cycle. When we see the components of astrology as part of a meaningful progression, the puzzle of seemingly disparate parts melds into a template of wholeness. This is the ultimate goal of studying astrology, to come into conscious relationship and wholeness--relationship between the different parts of ourselves, with others, and with the Universe itself.

The very shape of the birthchart illustrates this goal. The cosmic code of our life's journey is framed by a circle, an ancient symbol of wholeness. Combined with the four directions, this forms a mandala, an archetypal symbol of integration. "Mandala" comes from a Sanskrit word meaning circle and center. Mandalas are centering devices, and reveal both our center of individuality and our connection to the Source, the Great Center.

The fundamental components of astrology (signs, planets, houses, aspects) are derivatives of this great circle. The twelve signs of the zodiac (Gr. for "wheel of life") comprise an archetypal cycle of development. Each sign marks a particular set of qualities necessary for the evolution of consciousness. From personal identity (Aries) to transpersonal consciousness (Pisces), each sign expands on the learning of the previous sign, and is preparatory for the next phase. Each correlates to the one before, to the one after, to its opposite, and to all the other signs by its relative position in the progression.

The twelve houses relate to each other in much the same way as do the twelve signs, building on each other and progressing into ever more inclusive experiences. They differ in that they represent the environment and activities which will most directly lead to mastering the energies symbolized by the planets and signs. But the progression of the houses closely parallels that of the signs. Each relates to the house before it, after it and opposite it as well at to the rest of the houses

The relative positions of the planets also symbolize an evolutionary progression of consciousness. The greater the distance from the Sun, the more encompassed beyond the personal and the greater the awareness needed for its skillful expression. Each planet is a gate or threshold into a more inclusive understanding which can only come through mastering the previous level.

The aspects also form a progressive cycle of development. A conjunction is the beginning of a new cycle, akin to Aries and the Ascendant symbolizing a new beginning. An opposition is analogous to the opposite sign, Libra and the Descendant, the balance between self and other. The phases of the moon beautifully illustrate this progression. The moon's form constantly changes, but it is an orderly development, a waxing and waning, which, much like the seasons, echoes the cycle of the signs, planets and houses

Understanding this fundamental and continuous progression is one of the major keys to astrology. Understanding the power of symbols and their multi-dimensional qualities is another. Symbols are like colors and tones which stimulate the unconscious and embrace many levels of meaning and interpretation. We have to use both our right and left brains to decipher our birthcharts. Astrology ultimately is a tool for accessing intuitive wisdom, leading us to the development of a consciousness which transcends duality and leads to wholeness. Synthesis. Pisces. But first we have to go through the rest of the zodiac...

Tips for the Astrological Explorer from the Zodiac:

Aries: Keep a "beginners mind" as much as possible. Remember you can always learn more, especially from the basics. Read as much as you can,but make it your own.

Taurus: Use your senses. Notice the sights and sounds of the archetypes around you. Doesn't that flower remind you of Venus? And that television of Uranus?

Gemini: Astrology is a language. Like any language, the more you speak it, the more it speaks to you. Think in images, symbols, metaphors. A picture is worth a 1000 words.

Cancer: Feel it. Notice your moods shift when the Moon changes signs. Feel the difference between the dreaminess of Pisces and the action of Aries.

Leo: Have fun! Do astrodrama with friends or a class. Learn your cosmic script by giving a voice to each of your planets and writing their dialogue. Play with different scenarios!

Virgo: Analyze, analyze, analyze. Take it apart, then put it back together. Start with the planet, then add in the sign, house and aspects until it begins to form a picture.

Libra: Compare your chart with others. Imagine what it might be like to have those charts, or to be the opposite of what you think you are.

Scorpio: Be a detective. Research the birth dates of friends, lovers, relatives, and see how the symbols fit with your experience of them and what they say about themselves.

Sagittarius: Discover your truth. Just remember that everyone else has theirs too. Much more important than having the right answer is asking the right question.

Capricorn: Use astrology responsibly. What you say and how you say it can harm or heal. If someone asks you to look at their chart, know your limits and respect them.

Aquarius: Network. Find or form a study group. Go to astrology lectures and conferences. Work to reform the image of astrology.

Pisces: Have compassion. Understand that everything has its place in the magic of creation and is doing the best they can. Relax, trust, and follow your intuition.

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Astrology and the Healing Arts

by Stephanie Austin M.A.
published in Spiritual Therapy Astrology, Vol. 1 No. 5 1992

The words heal, whole and hale all stem from the same cognate. Healing at any level ultimately requires the discovery and embodiment of our spiritual identity. Astrology heals by providing a sacred, meaningful context for our experiences, a sense of purpose and direction, and a reminder of our connection to a larger whole.

"One of the symptoms of alienation in the modern age is the widespread sense of meaninglessness. Many patients seek psychotherapy not for any clearly defined disorder, but because they feel life has no meaning...We have lost our bearings"
                                                                                               --
Dr. Edward Edinger

Astrology is in essence a language of meaning. It provides a perspective vast enough to hold all of life's passages. With it, we regain our spiritual bearings and are better able to navigate the crisis of spiritual awakening and psychological healing.

C.J. Jung once said "Astrology is assured recognition from psychology, without further restriction, because astrology represents the summation of all psychological knowledge of antiquity." Astrology provides a map for the journey of individuation, the terrain of psycho-spiritual growth. The birthchart outlines our major course of study in the evolutionary curriculum of life--where our greatest lessons and learning are to be found. Approached in this way, the birthchart (and especially the Sun sign) symbolizes not so much who we are, but rather what qualities we are exploring and trying to master.

Having access to this kind of map and model greatly facilitates personal and spiritual growth, and is a powerful diagnostic tool for the helping professions. Properly understood, the birthchart can identify major life themes, dilemmas and unconscious patterns. Scott Peck, author of The Road Less Traveled, tells of once having 150 sessions with a client before getting to the real issue. Examination of the birthchart for even a few minutes can lead the counselor to begin asking the right questions, expediting and deepening the healing process.

The birthchart by its symbols of unfoldment, transits and progressions, illustrates the rhythms and stages of the therapeutic process as well. It synchronistically indicates when certain issues are most likely to come to the foreground. For example, transits to Mars by Pluto symbolize issues of assertion, anger, and sexuality coming up for review and transformation. Astrological indicators also point toward the most helpful interventions and modalities for treatment. For Mars/Pluto issues, model-mugging, dance therapy or martial arts would be powerful vehicles for this kind of healing.

The cycles of the planets symbolize generic developmental crises as well. The ages of 14, 29, and 42 are very important stages in the human life cycle and are symbolically mapped by the outer planets' transits to the birthchart at those ages. Just as childhood has specific stages of growth, so does adulthood. Understanding the meaning and purpose of these initiations greatly increases the chance of a successful passage to the next stage.

By discerning how an issue fits into the life plan, we can make peace with some of the difficult and painful periods of life, and validate some of the feelings not recognized by mainstream culture. Sometimes, as with a major Neptune transit, it is normal to feel quite disoriented and even a little crazy. The counselor can be of enormous help in reassuring the client and suggesting specific ways to cooperate with the process (allowing more quiet and creative time, working with dreams, grounding techniques etc.)

The language of astrology can be beneficial in reframing issues and indicating positive expressions of archetypal energies. It can bring form to deep and unconscious yearnings, and validate the intuition of both the client and counselor. Like an x-ray, it helps the therapist see what might be the structure of unconscious patterns and the pathways for conscious integration. In family or couples counseling, astrology can explain personality differences and outline viable compromises. This use of astrology can also be helpful in understanding transference/counter transference issues, either by the counselor conversant with chart comparison, or in consultation with a professional astrologer.

Astrology helps us fathom not only ourselves and our personal relationships, but also our relationship and contribution to a larger whole. For educators, career counselors and employers, astrology can direct people to "follow their bliss"--discovering their most productive and satisfying contribution to society. The birthchart details potential talents and interests which would be in alignment with our psycho-spiritual growth, and gives us "permission" to follow our heart. A vocational analysis of the birthchart could save years of frustration, and identify the components of our true calling.

On the physical level, the birthchart can indicate the body systems most prone to stress--and the specific time periods when they would be most vulnerable. Everyone has "weak points" which tend to break down under prolonged neglect or duress. The birthchart delineates these, as well as what would be necessary for balance and general well-being. Simply knowing the elemental distribution of their natal chart (the relative proportions of earth, air, fire and water), a person can take better care of their body type and reduce the likelihood of illness. Body workers, physicians, and healers of all eastern and western modalities, alone or in consultation with a medical astrologer, can use the birthchart as an x-ray of the underlying energetic and emotional structure of their clients, enabling them to more quickly pin-point potential trouble areas, and better able to recommend what would be balancing and healing for that particular individual.

These are some of the ways the symbolic language of astrology can be applied. In order to be used effectively in any context, however, there must first be a comprehension of its archetypal vocabulary. Astrology is most easily understood as a system of 12 fundamental divisions or "letters" (a method first devised by Dr. Zipporah Dobyns, a clinical psychologist and astrologer). Each letter is composed of one of the signs of the zodiac, its associated planet, and house. (For example, the 1st letter of the astrological alphabet consists of Aries, Mars and the 1st house as a related archetype. The second letter is Taurus, Venus and the 2nd house, and so on.) If one grasps the essence of these "letters" and how they relate to each other in a universal cycle of development, one has the key to the astrological mandala. Then one is able to read and hear the "music of the spheres".

Astrology may seem complex and overwhelming at the outset, but with practice the symbols quickly begin to reveal themselves. The study of any language has the power to expand our concepts of reality. Linguistic studies have long documented the relationship between language and perception. The language of astrology is the language of the evolution of consciousness. For those in the helping professions and healing arts, and anyone interested in personal and spiritual growth, it is the voice of the soul and the song of spirit. May it aid you in your journey and help you in guiding others.

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Synastry: the Mirror of Relationship

by Stephanie Austin M.A.
published in the Mountain

Synastry is the art of chart comparison, which looks at the life paths and needs of two individuals and speculates on the issues and synergy evoked as a result of their interactions. It is a complex process, in which one must grasp the contents of both individual's charts, compare their life themes and directions, and always remember that the ultimate determining factor, the free will and consciousness of the individuals involved, cannot be divined from the charts alone.

Whether we do synastry or any other type of astrological work, it is important to be aware of our assumptions and personal biases. These directly influence our perceptions, so it is vital that we be as conscious as we can (seeing is believing, but also believing seeing!). What we might want in a relationship may not be at all what our clients want or need. It is never the counselors' place to pronounce judgment on whether two people should be together; that is their choice, not ours. Our task is to identify, as best we can, the individual needs of each person, the dynamics likely to result from their interaction, and the attitudes and compromises which would lead to a satisfying relationship for both people. Synastric analysis alone does not predict compatibility; it can however predict how much, and what kind of, work it would take to achieve compatibility.

So what is compatibility? What are relationships for? Most people might say that relationships are for having a companion to share interests and activities, a partner to raise a family, a mate for sharing expenses, etc. While those are certainly legitimate reasons for forming relationships, there is another level that goes on concurrently and most often unconsciously. A deeper reason we are drawn into relationships is to expand our sense of self and become more whole, integrated human beings.

Relationships are intricate growth opportunities which provide mirrors for us to see aspects of ourselves that are, as yet, underdeveloped or unconscious. They can also help us heal old wounds and recover essential parts of ourselves. This is a more psychological, and specifically, a Jungian approach, to relationship than commonly assumed, and one that is well articulated in the astrological writings of Liz Greene, Stephen Arroyo and Steven Forrest, to name a few excellent sources.

Central concepts to this approach are those of the Shadow, or unconscious parts of ourselves, and Projection, seeing qualities in others before recognizing them within ourselves. The Shadow consists of attributes which are unacceptable or latent for any number of reasons--gender role definitions, parental or social conditioning etc. Both desirable and unhealthy qualities may be part of the shadow; we may project positive attributes as well as our seamier sides onto others. One of the most potent (and oldest) ways of learning is through psychological modeling--being around someone who is expressing or carrying the energy we seek in our own lives. Relationship provides a constant exposure to what we are striving to integrate within ourselves.

For example, if we are not expressing our Mars, our anger, our passion and personal desire, we unconsciously project and encounter that energy externally, through events or people. We seem to continually run into and/or be powerfully attracted to strong, self-determined, courageous types. If we are totally out of touch with our Mars, we may meet the archetype in a more violent form. The more we deny any part of ourselves, the stronger and more extreme its manifestation has to become in order to get our attention. The more consciously we relate to it, the more we can express it constructively ourselves, rather than experience it destructively from others.

Any part of the chart may symbolize potential shadow material; some energies are more likely to be projected or reprised than others. Strong astrological indications of potential shadow material would be the cusp signs and planets in the 7th and 8th houses, oppositions (especially between inner and outer planets), and the placement of Saturn. Predominance or lack of an element can also be a shadow component, as well as the Ascendant, or mask/persona itself. Much depends on how those parts are aspected or "wired into" the rest of our psyche, and on the experiences and conditioning we have had along the way, personally, socially and culturally.

If the purpose of relationship is to reconnect with another part of our own psyche, are there any "bad" relationships? Perhaps those relationships which reinforce unhealthy patterns of self-denial and abuse can be termed "bad". But even those experiences are trying to teach us something, albeit painfully, about energies that we have not as yet recognized or awakened within ourselves.

Sometimes that recognition comes much later, after we have had some time and distance from the relationship. There are ways to gain perspective and integration of difficult parts of ourselves even after the end of a relationship, when we are unable or choose not to physically interact with the other. We can work within ourselves in a number of different ways. One profound technique adapted from Tibetan Buddhist psychology is this: In a meditative space, imagine yourself dialoging with the person with whom you have an charged issue. Visualize and feel it as fully as you can, stoking your feelings like a fire. Then, in your mind's eye, switch positions and become the other person, looking at you as you are expressing these feelings. Imagine what it might feel like for them, from their perspective and what they would say in response. Listen to "them". Then switch back to your perspective and express your response. Go back and forth between yourself and the other. Continue the dialogue until you feel a shift. The insight and compassion that comes from being able to see through another's eyes is deeply transformative, and this internal process is often more illuminating and healing than when the other person is physically present.

Another technique, adapted from Gestalt psychology, is to pick a planet or aspect within your chart that symbolizes a difficulty for you, a part of yourself that you would like to understand and express more positively. Dialogue with it as if it were another person. Talk to it, ask it what it needs, bargain with it if necessary. Give it an image or name that personifies it for you, like "the Judge" for Saturn or "the Artist" for Venus. Every part of the birthchart needs to have a voice and place in our lives. If it doesn't, it creeps out in unconscious and disruptive ways. Each planet is in a sense a god which must be honored. The aspects between them pose questions of timing and synthesis; when and how to express the most appropriate response.

So what is really the point of all this? Why so much about our own charts when the topic was synastry? Because this approach ultimately takes us past the psychological level into spiritual territory, in that relationship (and astrology) is about discovering our relationship to the universe within ourselves. That everything "out there" is really inside us. This is an echo of the ancient Hermetic principle, "as above, so below, as without, so within", which is being rediscovering now in psychology, biology, physics and other areas. Understanding relationship means understanding ourselves and taking responsibility for both the pain and the pleasure, the shadow and the light. We project both our bright sides as much as our shadows; witness the guru scenes or movie star worship. We need to re-own that which we have pushed away or denied, and find a way to bring it into constructive expression. Relationship provides the arena, the testing and mastery for this kind of integration.

The following is one way of organizing the tremendous amount of information available from two birthcharts. The same principles of natal delineation apply for synastry; if you use Uranian planets, midpoints, asteroids, Arabic parts etc. you can add them into this basic format.

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Steps in Synastry Analysis

Four basic steps in chart comparison are:

1. Study each chart individually first.
2. Look at the inter-aspects between the charts.
3. Examine the composite chart.
4. Analyze the current transits and progressions for each person

STEP ONE:

Study Chart A for the components of their life path: hemispheric dominance (E, W, N or S), aspect configurations (stelliums, T-squares etc.), balance of elements (earth, air, fire, water), modes (cardinal, fixed, mutable), the Lunar Nodes, the placement and aspects of the Sun, Moon, Ascendant and anything else that strikes you. Where and how is the energy constellated? What are their relationship needs? Look at the sign and ruler of the 7th house cusp, the placement and aspects to Venus and Mars and the signs and placements in the 5th, 7th and 8th houses for relationship indicators. A relationship-oriented life path would be signaled by a western emphasis, many planets in water and/or air signs (especially Cancer and Libra), and a strong Venus. A more independent path is signaled by strong Saturn, Uranus, Aries, Aquarius, Capricorn themes and many planets on the east side.

Do the same for Chart B. Make notes to yourself for each chart.

STEP TWO:

Compare the placements of the Sun, Moon and Ascendants to each other. How do they mesh in terms of elements, modes and polarity? How many of the three make "easy" aspects to each other? (0 out of 3 is usually very difficult, 1 out of 3 calls for a lot of understanding, 2 out of three can be complementary yet stimulating, and 3 out of 3 can be easy or boring).

Make a grid comparing A's and B's planets, noting the cross-aspects. Look for conjunctions first, then oppositions, squares, trines and sextiles. Note which planets make close aspects (less than 5º) to each other.

Pencil in A's planets on the outside of B's Chart and vise versa. In what areas will they most affect or stimulate each other?

STEP THREE:

Calculate and examine the composite chart. Where is the energy constellated? Are there any stelliums? Where is the Sun and Moon? Venus and Mars? How is Mercury (communication) aspected? Where is Saturn (for commitment, longevity). Where is the joy? What are the issues that might need compromise and understanding? (see Composites by Robert Hand for details)

STEP FOUR:

Analyze the current transits and progressions for both people and the composite chart. Check their Solar Return charts.

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Stephanie Austin MA
Stephanie@EcoAstrology.com
360-379-3060
P.O. Box 1745
Port Townsend, WA 98368

Copyright © 2011 Stephanie Kendra Austin
All rights reserved.