You know that excited-all-over feeling you get when you meet someone who will inspire you in some momentous and mysterious way? Over 20 years ago, as a student of astrology, too poor to buy a copy of the magazine, I would hunker down in Santa Fe’s Ark bookstore, cup of tea (it was free) in hand and a fresh copy of The Mountain Astrologer, to drink in astrologer, Dana Gerhardt’s words. I was googly-eyed for Dana (still am). I don’t remember which article inspired me the most, but I am pretty certain that I barely tasted the tea.
Reading her new e-book, Lessons in Astrology as Magic, a compilation of her most beloved articles, was like coming home to myself. Dana asks questions that even seasoned astrologers rarely voice but all of us experience, like, What happens when you look at a chart and see nothing (p.s.-it happens to all of us)? To that end, she honestly addresses the reality that while we can study for years, get certificates, degrees and work astrology’s precise methods down to the letter in attempt to make a prediction or certain outcome, the planets don’t always behave as expected.
Even after practicing astrology professionally for well over a decade, what a relief it is to hear Dana voice this, several times and ways over! I was so insecure when I started practicing astrology and honestly I often still am, but today I understand the insecurity is not personal, it is what anyone experiences upon entering the groundless, formless realms of intuition, Neptune and the Moon. I can know the technical ins and outs of a chart and be confident in my teacher’s teachings, but I don’t always know which way the wind will blow. I have learned however that the more aligned I am within myself, the more “accurate” my readings are, and that alignment involves a combination of factors: inner listening, synchronicity, presence, the shared field between a client and astrologer, divination tools, and more… As Dana said of her own journey: “To become more confident in astrology itself, I had to learn how to read charts with a more magical mind…Here is the deeper work of becoming an astrologer: forging alliances with these forces.”
“Along with my belief in the powers of observation and generalization came a growing trust in the power of imagination. I developed my intuition. I meditated. I read more poetry. I experimented. I allowed myself to relax and do nothing. I increased my sense of wonder. I became more empathically engaged. And gradually the planets became more than glyphs on a page. They sprang to life. Saturn was no longer just a mythical god or the principles of limitation and hard work, he was the embodiment of a dynamic collection of qualities, permeating, impelling, instructing on so many levels. He was everywhere…”
It is big work, becoming an astrologer. The technical bench is steep – there is so much study and practice. But without these hidden forces, we may have powerful tools but the tools work at half-power. I recommend this for all students and practitioners of astrology – and especially those considering a career in astrology. Embarking on an astrological career without understanding the subtle, spiritual forces operating within and around our selves is like setting out in a boat with a leaky hole, a boat that’s all left-brain technical craftsmanship and no magic. Most of us astrologers initially learn this the hard way, suffering agonizing uncertainty over our perceived lack when things “don’t turn out as predicted” or we have a reading that “doesn’t go well”. We may even sense the leak is there, but until we open up and dialogue with it, our boat is leaky and the leak remains a source of unexplored magic. Thanks to this gem of an e-book, we now have an instructive manual for making the spiritual, magical journey every astrologer is called to take.