This Interview was conducted by Joan Morton, the president of the Fraser Valley Astrological Guild in January 2015. “Thank you for your very in-depth and thoughtful and thought-provoking answers to my email Chat questions. I really enjoyed and appreciated the depth of the answers you have provided. I’m sure reading the interview will provide our viewers with a great deal of insight— thanks again.”— Joan
Joan Morton: Anne, you will be presenting the monthly Guild Talk on Thurs, April 9, 2015, entitled “Why am I Here?– the whispers of the gods”, what do you mean when you say ‘the various gods, better known as planets’?
Anne Massey: I love the quote about being silent so that we may hear the whispers of the gods. We all have those voices in our heads, which are the myriad of thoughts that pop into our minds. There are always times when we ‘hear’ something and wonder why that idea just made itself heard. Astrologically speaking, we look to the planets and their interactions to decipher and understand how we think and act. Each of the planetary archetypes is a god with its own mythology (or several mythologies). Mercury might whisper, what do you think of this or have you ever considered…Jupiter might encourage us to do more, desire more, engage in acts of generosity and kindness, etc.
Joan: How do the four major asteroids, Chiron and the part of fortune relate to your topic above – are they ‘gods’ in the same way you refer to planets? What is their role in our charts?
Anne: This is a big question, worthy of an essay. However I think everything in the chart is a ‘god’. The four major asteroids each have myths from both Greek and Roman mythology—and all kinds of other cultural myths beyond the best known ones. These may be important, for example someone with Juno on the Ascendant might identify strongly with the role of the ‘wife’. I put that inside little quotes to emphasize that wife is a term I am using, but it does not mean that I know his/her gender. I do think astrology is semi-blind to gender. Juno was Jupiter’s faithful wife, despite the fact that Jupiter chased all kinds of partners. Juno was also the manager of Jupiter’s vast estate, so there is another side to Juno beyond marriage.
Chiron is not an asteroid; rather it is a comet that has a path around the ecliptic. Years ago I had an interesting conversation with an astronomer at the Pink Palace in Memphis. He stated that imagine what a peach looks like, and now throw that in orbit. Planets are the ones where the flesh has been peeled off and the solid mass is now in regular orbit. Comets still have flesh remaining. I like to think of it as we don’t know the exact role it will play, but astrologically speaking if it is ‘configured’ strongly in the chart, it is important. In my chart, if I include Chiron, it completes a T-square with Uranus to my Sun—I do think it plays out in my experience of life. For one, I tend to choose alternate health care over conventional medicine to address any health issues.
Part of Fortune is a highly personal point in our charts, it is calculated from our Ascendant degree ( and we know that a precise birth time is required for that) and the Sun and the Moon—the two lights, which are extremely important. For the longest time, while the part of fortune was routinely added to charts, not much was made of it. Over the past two decades, more information has been made available through translations of ancient texts. Also with all the fantastic tools at our disposal, astrologers can concentrate on what it means as opposed to how to find out the calculations.
In Hellenistic astrology the Arabic parts were known as lots. The word is rather descriptive, there are several lots and they define our lot in life. This lot (Fortune or Fortuna) belongs to the Moon. The ephemeral Moon is in charge of change and our daily life, our responses to life, etc. So this lot is about what happens to us, as well as what we do in order to survive in life, to eke out a living—so in short it is what we do. The planets are in charge of everything, thus one of the planets governs the lot of the Moon (fortune) and gives us many clues about what we came here to do, day in and day out. Naturally for the talk, I won’t be able to address everything in the allotted time, but will try to cover as much territory as possible.
Joan: You state “Astrology is a form of divination” – can you elaborate on this statement; what you mean by ‘divination’ and how you use divination in your chart readings?
Anne: I love words and how the unfold into complex statements. What is divination? Divination is about obtaining secret/hidden/occult information through omens or astrology/astromancy. The word has connections to deities and originates with the word meaning god-like. Many of the Roman and Greek gods and goddesses had temples for augury from dreams, omens, etc. Temples were originally used to study the planets i.e. gods—so kind of like a prototype for observatories but with strong connection to worship and finding out the will of the gods.
It is interesting to ponder how life might have been for one eager to learn astrology back then, gaining access to a temple to be instructed to read the omens, stars, planets and how these influenced life on earth. Back then unlike today that privilege was not offered to everyone, and was considered something best left in the hands of the learned and those worthy of teaching.
Astrology today as well as back then, associates all of its planets with gods and deities from mythology. In essence we are attempting to find out the ‘will of the gods’. That sounds too religious, so nowadays we prefer to talk about what a planet in a sign, house and aspect means. People used to rely on divining rods to find water, priests and shamans used to cast all kinds of things to judge the future from omens.
Do I use divination in my consultations is a loaded question. Like every astrologer I judge the planets, their connections and placement. This analysis in turn leads me to make statements. The statements tend to connect with each other, and at times lead to a conclusion that really wasn’t on my mind while I prepared for the consultation—that part I think is like divine intervention, to ensure that I pass on these subtle ‘whispers of the gods’. Also because I still look at the planets, know about their connections to the gods whose stories originate from antiquity, I do think I like the ancients am still attempting to divine the will of gods.
Joan: Personally as an Astrologer you hold a Diploma from CAAE (Canadian Association for Astrological Education) and Certification with ISAR (International Society of Astrological Research) where you are also the Vice-President for Canada, how valuable do you find it professionally to hold professional certification?
Anne: I think certification gives me a sense of competency, knowledge that I have the skills and know how to work as an astrologer. Of course I could opt to work without it, and did for many years as I was unaware of the existence of the various programs. In the now the landscape of our profession is changing, more of us seek certification and wish for a more professional status for our vocation.
I know that many of my clients choose me because I am certified, the same way they choose any professional to offer services for them. I wouldn’t choose a doctor, lawyer, accountant or any other professional—including the electrician or plumber working on my space— without certification. I think we all want to know that the professionals we choose meet the expectations imposed by a certifying body.
Joan: As the Canadian VP for ISAR you are bringing the opportunity to Canada for both student and professional astrologers to obtain Certification through ISAR – can you tell us what inspired you to provide this opportunity to local astrologers?
Anne: I have taught structured astrology courses locally for the past 16-17 years (I think the first course I taught was in the spring of 1999). I never felt that a certificate or diploma offered by me personally would be enough. I think there should be some standardized exams and criteria. I have several students who are ready to take the steps to gain professional status. I want them to have the option to do so here rather than have to travel to do so.
Also why ISAR—their program is offered in 27 different countries, and in several languages; making it very international, which is something I personally value. The consultation skills component is valuable, and makes it easier than learning all of it through trial and error. I also think the ethics component is important as is being held accountable through the Ethics Committee.
The competency exam tests standard, contemporary astrology, and does so rather thoroughly. It allows ISAR to state that the person who successfully writes the exam has a good knowledge of the subject matter and the standard techniques and tools.
Joan: Can you outline the programme planned for this October 2015 for those who want to obtain Certification with ISAR?
Anne: The parts that are being presented are the Consulting Skills Training over three full days by two ISAR certified trainers, one of whom is Chris McRae, the Vice President and Chair of the Education program. Those of us working in the field know that apart from knowing astrology, we need to know how to handle situations, when to listen and when to talk. A consultation is more than just stating what we see in a chart, for me personally the most challenging lesson was when ninety percent of the consultation ended up being me just listening to their stories, when I could have just talked and talked about what their chart revealed. Colleagues who have taken the training have told me how much they valued it, and how helpful they found it.
The exam is six hours long, and tests both technical understanding and ability to delineate. This exam has no trick questions and comprises of true and false questions, multiple choice questions, short answers and short essay type questions. The exam is open book, meaning that you can look things up in books and use the resources on your computer, but cannot use the internet to find answers.
Information about the ISAR certification program is available online at www.isarastrology.com and those interested in pursuing this are encouraged to contact Chris McRae, for additional information. The Ethics component required for certification is available online and can be completed at any time.
Joan: What level of knowledge and experience do astrologers require to successfully obtain certification with ISAR?
Anne: You need to be comfortable with reading a natal chart and using standard forecasting tools, i.e. transits, progressions, planetary returns and be able to look at synastry and composite charts. You should know the terminology, such as what is local mean time, what is a syzygy, how many eclipse seasons in a year, what is the cycle of Mars, etc. The exam does not require a full study of a chart; rather questions about charts address specific areas of life and therefore the chart.
As I mentioned earlier, it is a comprehensive exam and requires a solid understanding. You are not expected to hand calculate a chart, but will be asked about the process. If there is an area of technical knowledge that is weak for you, such as hand calculations, note that missing one area will not prevent the successful completion of the exam (several areas will).
As I will be offering support and mentoring for any of my students, I encourage you to contact me about what that might entail. Check out more at www.annemassey.ca and you will find an email link there as well.
Joan: What is the value of ISAR Certification to those Astrologers who already have an established astrological practice but don’t have any official certification or diploma?
Anne: In short it validates your knowledge and enhances your professional standing. I posted this commentary in a blog post earlier, but I think it is worth repeating here. “Professionalism in the field of astrology is in the hands of those who work as astrologers. Certification is about an agreement of what one ought to know in order to work in the field. This agreement originates with the organization offering certification. During the past decade astrologers have become more invested in having certification in order to elevate the level of professionalism. I have been a strong proponent of astrological certification for a long time for a couple of reasons. Firstly in every profession and job these days there is certification, whether you are a surgeon at the hospital, teacher at a university or the janitor who maintains the physical space of operations. The certification and/or licensing inform us the person has the skill-set required to do the work. Secondly, I believe that when we take our profession seriously the general public will do the same. I believe that when astrologers at large opt to participate they gain validation for their own skill-set and help elevate the status of astrology as a serious study and work.”
Joan: As Chair-person of the Guild’s Educational Committee, whose goal is to create an educational and certification programme for the Guild to administer for Astrologers, how does the ISAR Certification programme affect or relate to the Guild’s educational goals?
Anne: I am personally sponsoring the ISAR event, meaning I am hosting it free of charge because I firmly believe that certification enhances the value of our profession. The Guild Educational Committee is still in the early stages, and it will serve the needs of our members. I’d like to see a mentorship program for new members and student astrologers to help them achieve their goals. There is a benefit of having astrologers with proper training; it isn’t simply about reciting what we heard a lecturer state. I personally see my job as an astrology teacher being about teaching my students how to think astrologically. We are as much astrologers as modern day philosophers.
The members who volunteered to work on the Guild’s education committee were asked to send in their ideas about what our mission is, why form a committee and what each committee member thinks the program should offer and include. It is early days for us, however, if our members for example would like to see the ISAR program offered through the Guild in the future, this would then become one of our objectives.
Joan: What planetary positions, house positions and/or aspects in the Natal chart indicate an individual might want to be an astrologer and also might be successful as an astrologer?
Anne: Once again, a rather loaded question. The answer is that everything in the chart cooperates to indicate our path in life. For example in addition to working as an astrologer, I have worked as a teacher, translator, office and project manager, bookkeeper, volunteered as a treasurer and baseball umpire (oh, yes I did for about seven years)—all of these possibilities and those I didn’t list must therefore be present in my chart.
Knowing that, I can state a few for example scenarios. You asked me about the lot of fortune, so someone with the lot of fortune in either Gemini or Virgo is likely to navigate toward jobs and careers with a strong communication component; one of these jobs might be that of an astrologer. The success in that area would then be dependent on the placement and connections of that lot. Mercury in a good condition and position with good connections would then prove beneficial as it rules those two signs.
Working as an astrologer typically means that we are self-employed, so now we would need to know if the person can handle this. One clue that this might be the case would be the planet ruling the midheaven on the descendant side of the chart—maybe a chart with strong descendant side emphasis.
One of the contemporary connections that appears to work, is Uranus in aspect to one of the luminaries. If it is a harmonious aspect it is said to indicate an ease with understanding the subject. The harsh aspects are thought to force us to stick with it. I heard this a long time ago, and as I happen to have a Sun square Uranus and Moon trine Uranus, I fit the bill. However, there are so many factors to consider. It is so much easier to work for a pay cheque than to be self-employed, and nowadays finding a benefactor to support our work is not as common place as possibly in the medieval times.
Joan: What if these planetary positions/aspects don’t occur in the Natal chart but are in the Progressed Chart?
Anne: You are really challenging my Sagittarius Ascendant with these questions—and you know I won’t avoid the tough ones. The short answer is that if you are a student of astrology, some of these factors are already present. But as people we are so much more complex. The progressed chart will reveal the time when you are likely to pick up a new direction. The progressed chart unfolds from the natal, where we must find the ‘promise’.
Joan: Can you give your perspective on the difference between the Hellenistic ruler of Astrology – Mercury and the Modern Astrology ruler – Uranus?
I think that astrology is actually ruled by the Sun, the Moon, the stars and all of the planets. The distinction between Mercury and Uranus is huge. Uranus is about sudden insights, like a bolt of lightning from the sky; it is what I like to call the EUREKA-factor. I also think there is a Neptune factor to astrology, the intuitive insights that emerge from some sort of collective consciousness (why the vagueness, I think Neptune is vague). There is a Pluto-factor, we are looking way beyond the surface and many of us become obsessed with the subject matter and the insights it offers. I could go on talking about what each planet and asteroid brings to the table, but that’s an essay I have been trying to put together for about a decade and then I digress, because Mercury intervenes.
Yes classical and Vedic astrology gives the rulership of astrology to Mercury, it takes study, reading, listening and thinking to become versed in astrology. Mercury is the connector of the Zodiac—he represents scribes, teachers, students, learning, reading, writing…This makes profound change, and once again worthy of an essay.
If it were just Uranus, wouldn’t it make sense that those of us meant to be astrologers, would simply wake up one morning knowing it all. But as I stated, maybe we could discuss what rules astrology the most instead. I think we look to Uranus, because we consider it to represent something weird and unexpected, and see our role as astrologers aligned with those qualities.
Anne: As a founding member of the Guild and frequent President, how do you see the role of the Guild?
I was the founding president back in 1991, and served in that role on and off for over a decade, these days I guess more as the eternal past president. The Guild was founded to provide a forum for astrologers and students of astrology to learn from each other and to network with like-minded individuals. We have been here for anyone interested in astrology for almost a quarter of a century (that happens in 2016). And I think the Guild has served that mission admirably.
As our vocation/profession is becoming more visible beyond sun-sign horoscopes it is important for our organization, which serves the astrological community, to engage with the larger community. There is much work to be done both locally and globally, and we need to re-evaluate our role. We are after all one of the oldest astrological associations in Canada, and have served our community without a break for such a long time. One of those goals should perhaps be the advancing of professionalism.
Joan: What is your view of the Sun-sign astrology as reported in the newspapers – does it hurt or help astrology to be taken seriously?
Some of these columns are written by professional astrologers, well-versed in the subject matter. I wrote them for about 16-17 years. What is it they say ‘there is no such thing as bad publicity’. While these may not seem like real astrology, it is surprising how often the words describe what is going on for the millions, who follow them. I personally think that it is because of the horoscope columns that astrology stays alive in the minds of the public. For example we know that during the years Saturn is in the sign of our Sun, we are more serious about life and more likely to face challenges and limitations; so there is a topic Sun sign astrology can address rather well. This may prompt the reader to contact an astrologer, who can tell them so much more.
I realize the astrological community is highly divided on this issue, I personally wish to thank each and every horoscope writer to the masses as it takes exceptional skill to write these in a meaningful way. I sometimes wonder if I should call myself a horoscope writer/reader instead—people might have a more instant understanding of what it is astrologers do on a one-to-one basis.
Joan: What is the focus of your teaching for this year?
Anne: I am seriously pulled in several directions. I love teaching astrology, and I particularly value the moments when a student realizes that they can in their own words and ideas discuss someone’s life or a mundane event. I must repeat myself: “My job is to teach astrological thinking. This means also that I want to offer as many tools and techniques as possible to allow my students to choose the right ones for them. This includes tools that I might not personally use as it isn’t my job to limit those options.”
So this Spring I have a beginner course, forecasting and relationship courses as well as a course in relocational astrology. In addition I want to share my favourite tools and techniques from the Hellenistic astrology. I actively combine contemporary with classical—I want to use the best tools and enable my students to find theirs through exploring the variety available. We cannot use them all, some speak to us louder than others. Find information about classes at www.annemassey.ca
I am working on setting up online classes using a proper teaching platform, like those schools and universities use with Pat Collins whose site is www.astrology-u.com. I want to include free content about learning to decipher the actual chart. I also think that there is a huge benefit in learning a subject in a logical, sequential manner. Learning astrology in bits and pieces is not the ideal solution. So my dream is to set one up that begins with understanding the natal chart and moves on to forecasting, relationships, etc.
I am also planning to bring specialty topics to my local students by combining the online tools with an in-person workshop. I have been talking to a few colleagues, such as Lynda Hill from Australia about having her present a talk on the Sabian Symbols from her office to my big screen TV. David Cochrane from Florida is an expert on Harmonics, and I’d like to invite him to the same format. I am not an expert on either topic, but can lead a workshop on the topic following and preceding the presentation to introduce the concepts, so that attendees can begin to learn more about the specialty. These days we have the tools to connect with others all over the world, but the online experience alone is isolated, we need to be able to discuss the ideas with others to gain a fuller appreciation of their usefulness and application.
Also as I am bringing the ISAR competency exam to our area, and many who are interested in participating are also students of mine, I will be offering support and mentoring. This may be in the form of prep sessions, where I can help in filling any gaps in learning and provide resources.
My goal in setting up my teaching schedule is to offer classes and courses my current students have requested. That is why the relationship astrology course for example is on the list. Some of my students wanted to explore the Hellenistic tools and techniques, which is why I am offering it. I simply need to have about five students to proceed with any class or course. Having a small class is ideal for learning, everyone gets heard and further when the group is at least five deep, students can also learn from each other. One of the perks of teaching is the learning that comes to me from my students.
Joan: Are you planning another book following your very successful book “Venus, Her Cycles, Symbols and Myths”?
Anne: Planning and doing are two very different animals. I have been thinking and writing about Mercury for a long time now —about a decade and counting. It is such an interesting planet, astrologically speaking. I would love to find the inspiration and the time to write a book about this Architect of Daily Life.
I have also committed to writing a series of articles about the Hellenistic Astrology in Finnish for the magazine of the Finnish Astrological Association. It takes me so much longer to write in Finnish than in English, but once written I can literally whip it into English. And who knows it might grow into a book. Here is hoping…
Joan: How do you envision the future of Astrology in say, 10 years’ time?
Anne: Astrology has changed significantly— at least within the astrological community— from what was available twenty years ago. Astrologers now have powerful tools to use for the time-consuming task of hand calculating charts, transits, etc. We have ready access to information. This allows students to learn through various media, and there is more access to teachers of the subject as well. For now there is less scrutiny over the material presented which can be detrimental.
I think the changes have resulted in more people picking up the studies. Also we now have more organizations placing focus on appropriate training, which is likely to result in more professional, trained astrologers entering the field. I always think that the future unfolds in terms of the present, so I expect growth. I also notice more diversity with the various applied astrological theories emerging and at the same time the exploration of classical techniques is gaining momentum. It will take longer than a decade for all of that to merge into any kind of cohesive whole. I don’t’ actually think that will ever happen, astrology isn’t just one kind. My hope would be that astrologers become a more visible vocation/profession. Astrology is a tool that has much to offer for not only understanding of who we are but also how life is unfolding for us individually and collectively. We have financial, psychological and predictive astrology; we can focus on mundane events or take a look at how our lives might unfold differently when we opt to relocate, etc. There are a myriad of specialties in our field, and I do expect that selection to expand.
In contrast to let’s say fifteen years ago, we now have students engaged in two to four year programs, and there are some university level programs offered overseas that grant degrees. The latter are not purely astrology, and the former does not result in a degree. but neither was an option last century.
In closing, I think astrology and particularly the education in astrology is rapidly evolving. We have astrologers working within the academic environment, writing serious research articles and there are more professional astrologers promoting ‘real’ astrology. And we have access to a global media through the internet, so the information we disseminate spreads further and farther than ever before.