A man travelling through our community first introduced me to it as a child but when he left so did the information. Later as a young adult I was introduced to it by an astrologer named David Bennett. The first thing he said to me was, “You’re going to be an astrologer.” Sad to say I laughed at him. He volunteered to start my training and because I was so sure the whole subject was a case of smoke and mirrors I agreed to start the study. Then the introduction to Western Astrology led to a multitude of other esoteric studies and the rest is history.
You started with Western Astrology, studying and practicing for many years, but then studied Vedic or Jyotish Astrology: could you explain why you made the change and discuss your relationship to Western Astrology now that you practice Jyotish?
As much as I respect Western Astrology from my perspective something was missing, the window of knowledge it offers was simply too narrow. When introduced to Jyotish the lights came on, no pun intended. The things that were missing for me were suddenly being answered. That didn’t mean I knew how to answer the questions myself, but I knew for sure that answers were available, all I would have to do is study. So when clients have an understanding of Western Astrology I can use their knowledge as a tool to introduce them to great self-understanding.
You talk of ‘your soul’s mission’ – is it really possible to see this in a natal chart?
Certainly, it is one of the main differences between the two systems of astrology. This is a huge topic and one firmly based in philosophy. When I talk about the soul’s mission I am referring specifically to the types of challenges that continue to present themselves to us in our lives. Whenever we think we have some inner trait under control it will often show up dressing in another form and give us the opportunity to deal with it again.
When you refer to our ‘consciousness’ what aspect of ourselves are you referring to and how can an astrological chart help the individual develop his/her consciousness.
Within Jyotish there are 5 levels of consciousness recognized. The first two are the ones we commonly have access to. Conscious awareness of the external environment and our response to it is vitally important and is the first level. This level is also known as Maya, an illusion. Secondly there is our inner consciousness available only to ourselves. It is this inner consciousness that is so important and which makes the difference between reacting to a situation and responding to a situation. My workshop will be focusing on the affect and management of these two different types of consciousness.
After your name there are several qualifications listed: First: M.A. Obviously is Master of Arts and that refers to your in-depth study of psychology is that right? Could you tell us how that study helps you now as a professional astrologer?
Any study, no matter how specific, can be generalized and it is the generalization of psychology that is so valuable in the practice of astrology. Again we get back to looking at what a chart is dealing with.. Jyotish deals with the three components within each of us. Our mind, body and soul and how these three are linked. The majority of Western psychologies focus on the mind body interaction. Jyotish certainly recognizes the mind body interaction while including the soul’s role in the functioning of the mind and body. It is the interaction of this trinity that Western traditions have yet to acknowledge. Unfortunately authoritative sources of such knowledge have been rejected by Western philosophy. Fortunately this situation is changing as more people continue to seek knowledge.
Would you explain what the Vedic qualifications stand for and what they represent for you as a Jyotish Astrologer: Jyotish Visharada, CVA and Jyotish Kovid, CVA?
You are right; the MA is a Master of Arts (Human Relations involving Community Counselling and Psychiatry). The Visharada means particular levels of exams were passed and Kovid translates to mean: Learned, wise or academic and I’m expected to be a teacher. Further, any time a student spends with me results in credit hours that will apply to certification if such a route is desired. That title sounds heady but don’t think for one minute that means I have completed my studies or that I know it all! In a few months I will be finished! I hope to successfully complete the exams of a 6 year-long study providing me with the designation Jaimini Scholar. This designation exceeds that of a PhD. If successful I will be allowed to enter an even higher level of training, restricted to the few (less than 35 students I believe) Jaimini Scholars from around the world. The intensive course will be taking place in Malta next spring.
Primarily these titles can be seen a protection for the Public because they tell the world I am not self-taught and that I have met some very rigorous standards.
Some people say Jyotishi are more willing than Tropical Astrologers to give ‘bad news’ to a client i.e.: to give warnings of upcoming problems in order to ‘avoid the danger before it comes’ – do you have a position with respect to giving information that may be difficult for them to hear?
I don’t start off with how long someone is going to live if that is what you mean. What is usually called ‘bad news’ is usually something we don’t want to deal with. An example of something we don’t want to deal with is the end of a relationship. Often there are a number of things that can be done to save a relationship and knowing what these things are can help. Another relationship type of situation is when two people want a comparison between their charts to confirm for them that their relationship was made in heaven. The chart will show if that just ain’t so. Best to deal with the potential issues up front and enter the relationship with eyes open then wait 5 years. On the bright side such situations are great opportunities for us to grow in self-understanding and compassion. So, yes, I will deal with whatever appears to be coming up. Not only will I discuss potential ‘bad news’ I will also provide methods to deal with such information.
Do you see any value or any need for astrologers to take formal training and certification?
Without a doubt I believe formal training and certification are valuable to everyone in the same way I believe first aid training and basic certification is valuable for everyone. Not everyone is destined to become a brain surgeon any more than everyone is destined to become a Jyotishi.
What inspires you to continue as an Astrologer?
The subject itself provides the greatest motivation for me. The learning never stops and even after all these years I remain absolutely awed at the extent of the vast knowledge held by the ancients.
What aspect or pattern in your chart do you find most challenging and which is most helpful?
There is no one pattern that challenges or only one that gives support. Rather both factors come from a set of inter-relationships. If I have to say something it would be my Aries ascendant is what keeps me in trouble and my exalted Jupiter and Mercury that support me.
Is there an astrology teacher(s) and/or book(s) that have influenced you more than any other?
Most certainly, Richard Houck’s Astrology of Death changed my life and threw open the doors to the world of Jyotish for me to enter. Purchasing this book set off a series of events that continue to drive my life today. Then of course there are the classics of Parasara, Jaimini and others. It’s not so much that I have access to the written words of the Rishi, I have access to the spoken words of gurus. In this tradition, the written word is dead. It is only through the spoken word that the light and life of any body of knowledge can be passed.
How involved are you with your chart on a daily basis?
I rarely look at my own chart. Although when starting this study working with one’s own chart is good. However, it doesn’t take long before one realizes how personal bias muddies the waters. When I want a check-up, or need to make an important decision, I talk with my colleagues.
I know you teach astrology: can you tell us if there is a value for Tropical Astrologers to learn Jyotish even at a rudimentary level?
This is a difficult question. The main value for Tropical Astrologers to begin the study of Jyotish, in my opinion, is two-fold. 1. Such an undertaking will begin to answer some of the questions commonly ignored within Western Astrology, such as why are there 12 signs? Even an introductory class in Jyotish leads into a re-evaluation of social standards and concepts such as equality. 2. Knowing the factors of creation not only make the chart more alive, this knowledge opens many other studies and definitely introduces people to whole new worlds and ways of being within themselves. Understanding of these factors definitely underscore the importance of consciousness.
What do you see for the future of astrology?
The future of all traditions of Astrology, especially Jyotish, is in my opinion, very bright. The continuing advances being made in a variety of the hard sciences are most encouraging. One example is how the relationship of the Sun, relative to a sidereal position, has been shown to be vital in the successful delivery of medication. The second major factor has to do with the acknowledgement that world history, as we have been led to believe, isn’t accurate. Thankfully this great error is finally being corrected.
What direction are you focusing on in your personal studies and practice?
At the moment, and probably for the rest of my life, I am striving to make aspects of Jyotish practical. The information in a chart is so huge, with so many layers, that it is easy to become overwhelmed. So I am trying to find methods of presenting the information in ways that could be described as Applied Jyotish. One such method will be presented in my workshop.
Thank you for this opportunity. Joan. This interview was conducted by Joan Morton, the president of the Guild in August 2014. Phyllis will be presenting a talk at the Guild October 2014. The topic is Discover Your Soul’s Mission…
PS. And thanks as always Anne! You are what keeps the Guild going!