Chat with Anne Massey

Joan: Anne, you’ve been a successful professional astrologer for 25 years, can you describe when and how you first got interested in astrology?

Anne MasseyAnne: My initial fascination with astrology began when I was eight years old and was informed by a classmate that I was a Scorpio. She uttered that piece of information with both admiration and reverence. I thought that this couldn’t be good but there had to be something to this new-found respect from her… What I began to do, was try to find out about these signs assigned to us—I for one was not impressed by being categorized or reduced to one of the twelve signs. The women’s magazine of the era each featured a horoscope column and periodic articles about astrology. I read them all and in hindsight often wondered why there had been so much of it in regular magazines. I was later to discover that the Finnish Astrological Association had been founded at that time. The founding members must have been rather busy promoting the subject matter.

Throughout my school years I was to the go-to person for describing how different signs got along. I honestly don’t know how I did that, it seemed to come rather naturally. I was an observer of life and people from early childhood; that quiet, studious child and teenager who watched how people interacted. I remembered birthdays and all kinds of numbers with incredible ease and yet I don’t do any other kind of math in my head.

I had my first astrological report written by a professional astrologer with an office in the heart of Sydney, Australia in the late 1970’s. I remember that much of it didn’t relate to me and the only Astro-factor I recall was that she wrote about my Sun in the fifth house. Some of it really resonated, it’s a shame I have lost that write-up. When I learned to calculate charts myself, I realized that wasn’t accurate. I must assume she didn’t know how to cast charts for the Northern hemisphere. However, when I relocate my chart to Australia, the Sun is in the 5th rather than the 9th where it resides in my natal chart. I guess this was a time I became aware of the complexities of astrology—that there was more to it than the Sun signs. Around that time I also read Linda Goodman’s Sun Signs, which remains a book that introduces astrology to the general public.

While astrological thinking had been something that was buried deep within me, I didn’t leap into to study it with intensity until about a decade later—and have been doing so for the past quarter of a century, I do think that we all know something about it. In the spring of 2013, I realized that I had been reading charts for clients for a quarter of a century.

Joan: Many study astrology without becoming a professional astrologer, author and teacher as you have done, could you describe what aspects and patterns in your chart indicate that you would want Astrology as a career and that you would meet with success?

Anne: I don’t know that I chose astrology as a profession, I think astrology chose me. I don’t think it is all that rare to hear that someone became interested in astrology before adulthood, often less than ten and equally often in the teens years. I think we all want to understand why we are here and what awaits us when our time here on earth is up. When I began my intense studies I would pick up new books on the topic almost weekly. Many I had to order from the metaphysical bookstore. I also had a wonderful teacher for horary astrology, which was the one and only proper course I ever took. Horary astrology is a specialty within astrology (there are many), which is designed to give an answer to a question. Mostly I am self-taught, which means that I have read hundreds of books, attended many talks, workshops and conferences over the years.

I have been teaching since I was a child, I used to tutor others in English when I was at school in Finland and later I taught English at adult education centres, high schools, trade schools, businesses and even through the University—I never had a formal degree in teaching. Initially anything I taught in astrology was to share what I had learned with others interested in astrology. When I moved to BC in 1990, there was no astrological organization, and a long story short I was the founding president of the Fraser Valley Astrological Guild in October 1991. I would do my share of presentations, and during my efforts to promote the organization; I was offered a horoscope column. I wrote a weekly one about 18 years. In the past couple of years it has been rather sporadic.

I began teaching structured classes maybe about 15 years ago. I didn’t initiate these either, a Guild member had been asking me to teach a course for the longest time, and I flippantly stated that if she got half a dozen people together I’d do it. I think the first class three or four times that number of students. I don’t know that I had realized the true value of having someone to guide you in your studies. These days I teach a huge variety of topics ranging from the ABCs to chart rectification, calculation, etc.

Writing the book about Venus was not on my list of things to do either. I was approached by Stephanie Clement about writing a book. At the time my passion was to write a beginner book or one on the nodes of the Moon…Stephanie is fantastic at soliciting information about your interests, and after a while, she found out that I was absolutely fascinated by the Venus cycles…three years after this initial conversation at the ISAR 2003 Astrology conference in Anaheim, California, the book was in print.

How I arrived to where I am today sounds like one of my favourite quotes ‘when opportunity meets with preparation’. I don’t think there is a clearly defined chart pattern or combination for having the passion and entrepreneurial spirit that it takes to choose astrology as a full-time occupation.

Over the years I have heard and read about a variety of factors. There are degrees that are said to be associated with astrology, for example 25-29° of Leo, 11° Virgo, 22-28° Aquarius…I think there were a few more but I can no longer find the list I compiled some twenty years ago. I happen to have Jupiter conjunct Pluto at 27-28° of Leo. Out of curiosity (I love research) I checked out a few charts for long-time professional astrologers and found the Leo and Aquarius degrees present in each chart for personal planets.

The other one I have recall was that if Uranus was square one of the luminaries that would make astrology a potential obsession you cannot remove from your life. Meaning that you might want to stop but would always return to it. I happen to have Sun square Uranus in my chart but so do loads of people…A soft aspect from Uranus to the luminaries, as I recall states that the insights come with ease but you don’t necessarily choose to pursue the arduous study this requires. I don’t see this factor in the chart as often.

If I were to look for a pattern, I would want to see a heavy emphasis in the houses of knowledge. I would want to see indicators for having your own business, and the fortitude required for being an entrepreneur. Many of the professional astrologers seem to have strong cardinal planets that keep them active. There are years that seem to have produced more professional astrologers than others, one of these 1942-43, during that time we had a Uranus-Saturn conjunction in Gemini.

The last concept in the question about success…this is relative. I think that I have been privileged to be able to pursue such an uncommon occupation over the decades. The full-time portion of my astrological career amounts to about 17 years in two lots, the current continuous stretch began almost a decade ago. I think of success in terms of the sense of being able to do what I love. Thinking it about in terms of income would have me back in the corporate world—something I have pursued with success over the years as well.

Joan: What type of astrology do you do and why and how has this changed over the years?

Anne: Over the years my focus has always been to help people see options, understand themselves and their relationships a little bit better. I personally don’t like surprises, and maybe because of it have always sought a bit of foresight into what might be coming up. My clients have always had questions about what to expect and relationships have always been an integral part of my work. I have studied and researched all kinds of techniques and ways of doing astrology over the years. These days I incorporate old techniques to what I call contemporary astrology, which has a strong psychological component. I don’t like to use the word modern; it always throws me when I see that word used in old texts.

I use the tools and techniques that are relevant to the questions my clients may have, they don’t care what techniques I use. I find that using older tools and methods simplifies my understanding of how life is unfolding in terms of the master plot for life. The contemporary methods illuminate how the feel about it. Both have merit, I simply love the addition of some stricter rules. I started with very traditional horary astrology, learning traditional rules, did a fairly long stint of more psychological astrology and am now back to more classical astrology. However, while I use Hellenistic tools and techniques, I don’t consider myself a Hellenistic astrologer. I love having a bigger toolkit!

Joan: What teachers and books have inspired you in your personal journey as an Astrologer?

Anne: I remain so grateful to Mary Sturdivant, who taught me horary astrology and opened my eyes to not believe everything I hear or read without checking it out. I loved the books by Tracy Marks and Jeanne Avery back when; and of course the books by Dane Rudhyar and Rob Hand. One of my favourite writers is Alice O. Howell, I love the way she explains astrology and life.  Marc Robertson is another author whose books I enjoy. There are too many to mention, I like to think that I have learned and been inspired by each lecturer, student and colleague I have met on the way. I feel privileged to know so many of them. I am currently reading an older book in reprint by Richard Idemon—through the Looking Glass, and have a stack of recent books by Lee Lehman waiting.

Joan: What certification/diplomas do you have and what value do you think they hold for your career?

Anne: I am certified by the International Society of Astrological Research (www.isarastrology.com) and hold a diploma from the Canadian Association of Astrological Education (www.thecaae.com).  I think that obtaining certification validates your skills; a group of astrologers agree that you have a well-rounded understanding of the subject matter. I think having a more thorough understanding of the complexities of astrology translates to being able to help clients more effectively. Over the past decade or so, many of my clients state that finding a reputable, qualified astrologer was on their list of criteria when they searched for an astrologer.

I have been a proponent of certification for over a decade now. The astrological community has been working toward certification with increased emphasis for the past 10-15 years. ISAR began its Certificate of Astrological Proficiency program in 2000. In order to become an ISAR Certified Astrologer one needs to successfully write the comprehensive competency exam, the required ethics awareness and counselling skills training as well as complete three electives in specialty topics in astrology. Learn about the program at http://www.isarastrology.com/certification. Currently (2013) there are 330 ISAR Certified Astrologers in 17 countries; some of the countries are Canada, United States, Turkey, Argentina, England, Serbia, China, Mexico, France, Israel, Ukraine and Slovakia. We have five ISAR certified astrologers at the Guild.

There are organizations such as the American Federation of Astrologers which have had a certification program in place much longer (since 1960) and with hundreds of certified astrologers, now there is broader, renewed interest. The CAAE (www.thecaae.com) in Canada awarded its first diplomas in astrology in 2009. At the Guild we have two members who hold the diploma and many more who have certificates at the various levels.

Joan: What advice would you give to a student astrologer today who would like to work professionally as an Astrologer?

Anne: Take classes, attend conferences and workshops, which are so readily available these days. Also take part in the local astrology groups so that you can build a network. It is extremely helpful to have colleagues you can talk to as you advance in your own learning and develop your skills. I think in our area we are so lucky to have an organization that supports astrology and is there to open doors to anyone wanting to connect with both professional astrologers and students of astrology. Each year a few novices join the long-standing Guild, the group has changed so much over the past 22 years, and I have had the privilege of getting to know so many of the over 200 members over the years.

Learn about a variety of techniques and types of astrology, which will introduce you to different approaches. There are many free and/or inexpensive online sessions these days and several professional astrologers have websites which are filled with valuable information.

Of course the volume of books is likely to be massive. It can be helpful to find out from other students (most astrologers and teachers remain eternal students) which books they recommend.

Joan: What inspired you to write your book on Venus?

Anne: I had been doing research into Venus for years, I was fascinated with this eight year cycle in my life that I couldn’t assign to a planet—that began in 1989… In October 2003 at an ISAR conference I was approached by Stephanie Clement, who was the acquisitions editor at Llewellyn back then, about if I was working on a book (note it was a Venus return week for me). At the time I was busily teaching and writing material for my classes—so a beginner book was the obvious thing. There was no interest for yet another one at Llewellyn at that time. Stephanie is excellent at asking the right questions, so in fairly quick order she had managed to find out that I had this ongoing research into the Venus cycle as a passion. I certainly didn’t think I was qualified to write a book about it. I promised to think about it though. When I came home and talked to my husband about having been approached to write a book, he couldn’t have been more supportive and encouraging.

Writing a book is not easy; you have to find what is most important and how to express that eloquently. I submitted the completed manuscript at the end March 2005 (Venus was conjunct my Moon). It was accepted for publication on my solar return that year (Venus and Pluto were together within 3 degrees of my Ascendant). I also received the book, now in print, as a birthday present in October 2006 (Venus was on my Sun for that birthday.)

Joan: Do you have plans for a second book? If yes, can you give us some details about it?

Anne: I have had plans for years now. I would like to be able to compile all of my Mercury notes and research into a book. Mercury is as fascinating as Venus—just different. Mercury is elemental; the statement always makes me think of the banter between Sherlock Holmes and Dr. Watson…’It is so obvious’ was the most common conclusion in Holmes’ deductive reasoning.  I think we don’t give Mercury the credit it’s due as the planet in charge of our thinking faculties and that vital deductive reasoning faculty that creates thinkers, analyzers, philosophers and of course astrologers (just to name a few).

I also have all kinds of notes, article particles and research about the lots of fortune and spirit, something that fascinates me these days. The question of lots or Arabic parts has intrigued me since I first saw the vestigial part of fortune in the chart, but found limited information about it. There are so many Arabic parts that it gets confusing, but since learning about the Hermetic Lots I am personally content I found a set that works consistently in client work and in addition are created with some incredible symmetry which connects to our Ascendant—the one marker in each astrological chart, which anchors us, body, spirit and soul to this incarnation.Maybe I simply have too many ideas, and think I can squeeze more into life than humanly possible. Maybe I will be inspired to work on a topic soon, as finding the impulse within isn’t there at present.

Joan: You’ve recently started an online course ‘Living Sky’ could you tell us why you started it and how you are enjoying teaching online and how does it compare to your in-person classes?

Anne: I began the online classes this autumn and started with an ABC course and the Living Sky, and am hoping to expand the offering. I have always had students whom I have tutored privately online because they don’t live in the area; some don’t even live on this continent. I also get lots of inquiries about learning online from students across this continent, but couldn’t initially figure out how to realize this. I discovered that Citrix offers a variety of formats for sharing the screen, video and conferencing between students, and more.

It is more work for the presenter than teaching a class in person, I create PowerPoint presentations for each session and as I am crazy about visuals and research, and sharing both I probably spend more time than I should in preparation. I know this is benefiting my students, who are able to download the video and replay it at their leisure. Also because I have become the queen of handouts during the many years I have taught structured classes, my student accumulate lots of handouts about the topics we cover. Many of these handouts have very comprehensive notes about concepts, for example my aspects handout (the full one) is a novella of 60 pages of illustrated and delineated information; it covers contemporary and classical aspecting theories.

Joan: What is the most challenging aspect or pattern in your natal chart? How does knowing about it help you in handling it in your life?

Anne: There are times when I think I am handling life and others when I don’t think I have a clue. My Moon in Aries forms the handle to a bundle of planets within a square, and forms an opposition to my Mars-Mercury conjunction. I have learned how to control some of those impulsive choices and actions, but have never really mastered dealing with things if I don’t feel inspired. I have learned to accept who I am in terms of flaws and how to work on those; accepting the positive parts is harder and is handling compliments. I might chalk that part to having been born with Venus conjunct Saturn. I do think that everything in a chart is both a challenge and an opportunity. I think that when all is said and done, I consider myself truly blessed in this life.

Joan: When a client has a very difficult natal aspect or pattern in their chart how do you help them deal with it?

Anne: As I commented above nothing is good or bad rather both. The difficult aspects and patterns teach us the most. The so called easy aspects such as trines do not cause us to work hard for what we desire, it is the challenging squares the coax us into action, and in doing so we discover our innate strength. Once we make choices and understand our myriad of options, we feel empowered to make more out of our lot.

I talk to my clients about both the challenging part but also about how that can be used to our benefit. A consultation is a conversation where we together talk about the current issues and challenges. Reality is that clients do not book a session when life is flowing smoothly.

Joan: Beside your own Venus book of course, what 2 astrology books would you insist on having if marooned on a desert island?

Anne: If I was marooned on a desert island, I would have time to study some of the reference books or the big tomes in my library. Common sense dictates that I would want my ephemeris with me. I don’t know I’d take my own book as I could think it through knowing the subject matter. I would likely take two of those big dictionaries of astrology published by Llewellyn years ago, so I could look up facts. Cornell’s Medical Dictionary and Llewellyn’s A to Z Horoscope Maker.

Joan: Currently what aspect of Astrology are you most passionate about; what is next for Anne Massey?

Anne: I continue to be passionate about the cycles of the inner planets, the Hermetic lots…I am fascinated by sacred geometry, just too many things I still want to understand more fully. I would like to think that I can complete the books in my head and in a myriad of files on my computer. I love teaching astrology. When I witness students having those incredible ‘AHA’ moments when they have grasped a big concept and owned it, I feel so rewarded; I love to know I helped them get there.  I truly want my students to become better astrologers than I ever was.

Anne’s book has been in print for seven years; you can still purchase a copy from  Llewellyn or Amazon and order it to your favourite bookstore. Anne has a very limited number of autographed copies available directly from her.

Contact Anne – www.astrologicallyspeaking.com or www.annemassey.ca both sites have the email addresses and phone number.

“Life is not measured by how many breaths we take, but by the moments that take our breath away.”

Anne was interviewed by Guild President, Joan Morton.

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