Joan: How long have you been studying astrology and what got you interested?
Malamarie – I first became interested in astrology as a teenager, but all that consisted of was reading Linda Goodman’s Love Signs every time I met someone new – so that can hardly be considered a serious interest. But her work planted a seed that was an auspicious beginning for me, as I earnestly began studying astrology with an intent to conquer it during my first Saturn return, which was 20 years ago. I have natal Mercury conjunct Uranus and Pluto all sextile Neptune, and it is also trine Jupiter, so learning astrology for me has been like slipping on a favourite well-worn glove: familiar, easy, and comfortable. It is as if it was all just sitting in my brain waiting for the right timing to activate it.
Joan: How did you find your first client and what was that first reading like for you?
Malamarie: I can’t say that I ever seriously sought out a ‘first’ client. Doing readings just evolved organically from what I was reading in various astrological texts. I started with understanding my own chart, which led to correlating it with the charts of family and friends and then after some time people just began to ask me to do charts for them.
Joan: How did you come to connect astrology to myths and archetypes and how do you combine the two when reading a chart?
Malamarie: I see myths and archetypes as a way to understand what the signs mean in terms of the individual’s journey through life. As part of my own learning about astrology, I have used myths and archetypal understandings to determine what is the essential nature of each sign. This is often done through multiple mythological connections as each sign is a complexity unto itself, and this has allowed me a more complete understanding as regards the sign’s needs, attitudes and wants. So, now when I do charts, this level of understanding has already been synthesized and presents itself as the backdrop to the larger context that is the individual’s life. To simplify, it just makes it easier to fit the details in.
Joan: What books on myths and archetypes would you recommend?
Malamarie: My personal favourite is Liz Greene; all of her texts have mythological references interwoven throughout. For this lecture I have drawn upon her book, Astrology for Lovers where she has a separate myth section for each of the signs. Caroline W. Casey’s, Making the Gods Work for You: The Astrological Language of the Psyche, is another entertaining read. Jean Shineda Bolen has two books: Goddesses in Every Woman and Gods in Everyman, while not astrological, they present a psychological look into men and women that is mythologically based. I also recommend the Steven Forrest primer, The Inner Sky, which isn’t about myth per se, as much as it is about his personal creative understandings of the signs, which I find to be unparalleled. This is essentially the bibliography for the lecture that I will be giving.
Joan: Can you explain for us how you view astrology as a tool for psychological change and transformation and what this means for you as an astrologer?
Malamarie: I can think of no better tool for personal change and transformation than astrology. It is always individually tailored, fresh, current, and where you are, and need to be at the moment. It only fails in one’s capacity to interpret it. Any astrological reading given will always be coloured by that particular astrologer’s view of the world for better or for worse. This, I think is crucial for clients to understand – and astrologers to remember. As we live our lives, we are always circling around the planets, signs, and houses in our chart and with each pass we evolve that much more.
As any astrologer knows when you are doing a reading for, particularly older adults, they pretty much recognize who they are in what you are telling them about themselves. One of the most fascinating aspects of astrology, after observing it in my life for so many years, is that I can think I know and understand the energies of the planets as regards a particular transit. But when the transit comes to pass there is always something surprising and unknowable about how it comes to pass that my brain was never able to figure out. This is perhaps the main reason that I remain so interested in, and connected to astrology, it always offers up some new and engaging insight. I think there are as many ways to interpret astrology, as there are stars in the sky.
Joan: Does your perspective include a spiritual component in your readings?
Malamarie: Absolutely. I see the spiritual component as the umbrella that directs and guides all other levels of being. And while it is easy enough to identify certain spiritual markers in the chart, it gets fascinating when you look at what an individual has or has not done with these markers. This will all depend on the previous level of spiritual evolvement that a soul brings into this – the present incarnation. The way I understand this, is that you can have two individuals born at the same time, day, year, and location, which is the same chart, but if one is a young soul and the other an old soul, so to speak, the result will be a radically different expression in the happenings of their lives and how they live their astrological chart.
Joan: What house system do you prefer and why?
Malamarie: I have found that using Placidus, seems to make the most sense, where the major areas of life are given the most weight: self, home, the partner, and career. It just seems to work well for most of what I am required to do, but I am aware that at very high latitudes it is not functional. I haven’t spent a lot of time exploring other house systems, although I do think an equal house system has value, as does a helio-centric chart.
Joan: Do you have a preference: modern or classical rulerships and why?
Malamarie: I use modern rulerships, mostly because the authors that I learned from were using those. They just make sense to me. The outer planets have been discovered and with the discovery of each was a whole train of events, movements started, and people born, who then characterized what each of the outer planets signified. So they are in the zeitgeist. While I understand that there is certain symmetry to classical rulerships, and definitely they have validity especially on a more mundane level. I don’t discount them, it’s just that I am always looking for the larger meaning behind a sign and if you only use classical rulerships you will miss this. These are special times we live in, which are about growth and consciousness and they require an updated approach – these outer planets have been recently discovered for a purpose. I wouldn’t want to ignore that.
What I have struggled with the most is assigning the rulership of Virgo to Mercury; it has really impeded my ability to equate Virgo with the element of earth and to truly understand it. I find that thinking of it in terms of Chiron is more helpful in comprehending what this sign is about. I once read that we only come to understand what a sign is about when Pluto travels through it and the people born during it, grow up, live, and have their lives – the expression of which presents us with the great truth: good, bad or ugly – as to what that sign is about. I think, at the end of the day, I would be most happy with each sign having it’s own planet.
Joan: Why did you decide to complete Level I and Level 2 of the CAAE Certification levels? How important do you think it is for an Astrologer to have some type of Certification or Diploma?
Malamarie: Learning astrology has been largely a matter of being self-taught, but not in the sense of rote learning. I never set out to ‘learn’ astrology it was just something that happened as I followed my own path of interests picking and choosing what to read. As I progressed along and gained a certain facility with the language of astrology, I realized there were particular detail-oriented aspects to astrology that I wasn’t much interested in pursuing, but I recognized the value in having a clear understanding of these things. So I knew that by writing the exams I would be able to go back and cover all the details I had missed, so that I at least knew what they meant.
It hasn’t necessarily changed how I do readings or my overall understanding, but by focusing on these details I simply become more confident in my understanding of the big picture. I think a good astrologer needs always to have a large vision of what the chart or astrology, is for that matter, and then you can easily go back and fit the details in. I think the system of certification levels the playing field. It is a way for the client to discern the level of quality that they will receive when they do go for a reading. But having said that I have had my chart done by many different astrologers and the readings are all so different, so from this point of view certification is just a base starting point. The best readings I had done were those where the astrologer was able to input content that went way beyond what the certification required.
Joan: Do you intend to pursue further formal certification? (if not already answered above)
Malamarie: It is my intention to pursue the third CAAE exam.
Joan: What aspect or pattern do you find most challenging?
Malamarie: I think that one of the most challenging aspects is the grand cross or a single planet that has several squares to it. While it is certainly true that squares push you to the edge of your dynamic growth curve and that gives you awareness you would not otherwise have had, I get that. At the same time they never stop. So year after year as you get older, sure you get better at handling that situation coming out of left field, but it is also true that you become exhausted.
I really saw this with my father, when at the end of his life he had gained successfully pretty much all that an individual could want to achieve in a given life, and he had gained mastery over his hard aspects. At the same time, those squares just kept coming at him, but by now he was exhausted with little will or desire left to deal with these situations. So in the end they extinguished him. Which wasn’t necessarily a bad thing as his life had reached a natural ending point. It is just that sometimes in life you need to be able to rest. So when I see a chart with numerous squares (especially, if there are few beneficial aspects in the chart to balance off the squares) it feels exhausting just to look at. Because as an astrologer you understand what that person is dealing with day after day – for their whole lives.
Joan: What aspect or pattern do you like the most or find the most helpful?
Malamarie: A lucky Jupiter is a nice thing to have, whether that is Jupiter at the top of the chart, or a well-aspected Jupiter. Most people seem to benefit well from the Jupiter return cycles; it seems a fairly reliable thing. One of the other things that I have found beneficial is when someone has a balanced spread of planets across all of the four elements. This seems to give an ability to draw on the energetic qualities that each of the elements denotes, resulting in a sense of the inner balance in the personality. What it looks like on the outside is a psychologically and emotionally well-adjusted individual, who then has an easier time of getting through life.
Joan: Is there an astrology teacher and/or book(s) that have influenced you more than any other?
Malamarie: What has influenced me the most was probably the first chart reading that I had done by a very good astrologer. What made him that was his ability to reference on so many levels that went way beyond what I see written in traditional astrological texts. A good reading needs to be able to draw from wide depth and breadth of knowledge, wisdom, and experience. My own chart has a strong spiritual axis to it, and to this day I feel his was one of the few readings that was able to concisely give me feedback as to what that meant, even though at the time I had not opened to these realities and really wasn’t sure what he was talking about. Throughout the reading he kept saying to me, because I had a Mercury/Uranus conjunction, “You could do this.” At the end of the reading he gave me a list of authors and three years later I bought the books he recommended, sat there with the chart he had done for me, started reading and just figured it all out for myself. There are many things that he told me that I still reference my life off of.
I have learned much about astrology from reading Liz Greene. I sometimes think she is one of the most engaging writers, writing on any topic anywhere. Joanne Wickenburg presents a very thorough approach that has been helpful to me in learning about astrology. I also appreciate Steven Forrest who brings a real creative flair to understanding astrology, that is uniquely his and he presents it in a way that I see no other doing. I am always looking to reduce complex reality to its basic elements – the level of atoms and molecules – in order to understand it. Once you have that then you can easily synthesize the big picture.
Joan: How involved are you with your chart on a daily basis?
Malamarie: Astrology runs like a sidetrack in my brain. I have found it to be the most comprehensive system there is for understanding the world around me. So, while I rarely micro-manage my life by tracking the moon void of course, I certainly know when my major transits are coming up, and also where I sit in relation to my generation and how we are fitting into society at any given time. My brain is inclined to catalogue the people in my life by the year they were born in. I tend to attract people in clusters born in roughly the same year; this is always like a new astrological pattern coming in, especially, when it crosses the generations. Then I will cross reference that back with groups born in other generations. Tracking Pluto’s course and mode of action – as I see it being lived by the people I meet – through the signs is most helpful for this.
I see my astrological chart as something that goes way beyond my personal existence, yet it anchors me to my personal reality. Much of life is about interacting with the others around you, so probably, the greatest benefit I have received from astrology is its ability to help me perceive and understand relationships, while also realizing their potential.
Joan: Do you teach astrology?
Malamarie: No, I do not teach at this point in time.
Joan: What do you see for the future of astrology?
Malamarie: I feel quite comfortable with the role that astrology plays in our society. I don’t necessarily think that it needs to be more prominent than it is. While people generally know their sun sign they don’t often know much more than that. An involved study is only for a few, and will probably only ever be that, unless it becomes incorporated into the school curriculum. I don’t perceive that a return to the middle ages, prior to the birth of science, where astrology was given great prominence would be such a great thing. It’s deterministic nature tended to pigeon-hole people and seen within that cultural context, interpretations often had a fated quality to them for good or ill, and of course, it conflicted with the power and the politics of the church and it’s doctrines. The historical past that astrology has had in the west still casts a shadow in our culture and there are skeptics to be sure. I think that this has led to a situation where astrologers approach their craft with a level of cerebral rigour and a dose of humility – that might not otherwise be present with a tool so powerful as this.
I think of astrology as an esoteric study, which to me implies that something of a deep spiritual nature is accessible which, therefore, means that all of reality can be read through it like the hologram. With the Internet and the dissemination of knowledge what it is today, information about astrology is readily available to all; many may skim the surface, but again few will seriously seek it out and deeply incorporate it into their lives.
Joan: What direction are you focusing on in your personal studies and practice?
Malamarie: One of my favourite ways to learn about astrology is to read and read for a period of time incorporating all the information through my left-brain. Then I go off and do other things. What I find is that several months later the information has been creatively synthesized through my right brain, and I have whole new understandings that network into everything else that is going on inside of my brain and being. This cycle of learning about astrology will always be with me. Though, from a logistical point of view, right now doing charts is a part-time endeavour, as I need to balance this with my other work.