Travel by Your Stars

Redhead girl with suitcase on Eiffel tower background

Chance favors the prepared mind. – Louis Pasteur

By far the greatest number of spontaneous synchronistic phenomena that I have had occasion to observe and analyze can easily be shown to have a direct connection with an archetype. ~ C. G. Jung, Synchronicity, An Acausal Principle

I first discovered astro*carto*graphy, travel or relocation by the stars, by chance. I’d been studying astrology for several years, and tooling around on www.astro.com I clicked on “Astro Click Travel” and the world opened up to me in new ways. My astrology lines wrap around the globe? I felt like metaphysical wonder woman given her invisible jet. I could fly around the world sensing invisible energies and pioneering my course in a way that no one I knew ever had. If, through discovering astrology for myself, I had been given the metaphysical key of the universe, this was a whole other exciting set of secret maps. The coolest thing of all? The feedback was instant. This magical jet allowed me to project myself into time and space by making some basic assumptions about the type of experience I’d have at those places I’d always dreamed of. Then I could go there.

First, I tested traveling astrology theories on the places I’d already been. For every time I’ve moved, I’ve been my own petri dish, an experimental test case for astro-cartography. My hometown: Santa Fe, NM where life had not been easy. Unsurprisingly, I discovered my Pluto ASC line ran smack through Santa Fe, and astrology successfully validated my experience. In my particular birth chart, Pluto is one of the more complicated and problematic energies. Oh, that’s why life in this charming little artist community was more trial by fire than picturesque artist enclave! I got the hell out of dodge, Mabel (for New Mexicans, that’s an insider reference to the Mabel Dodge Ranch in Taos). In my early twenties, I had moved to South Carolina attend University– on my Venus Mid-Heaven line. Corroborating nicely with my own nicely aspected tenth house Venus, I majored in art, eventually holding a Curatorial Assistant position coveted by my peers in the city’s first art museum. After I graduated, I moved out West to San Francisco, CA near my Neptune IC line. Neptune is the planet of vision and dreams, and I did have a dream of living in Shangri-La California. However, the reality of my two decade stay here was decidedly mixed. Upon arrival, I realized I didn’t like the cold, wet weather and also that the energy of the city didn’t fully resonate. I spent the first five years attempting to leave, moving out of state twice, only to be swept back by forces outside my control. Eventually, using other crafty methods of astro-plotting (by comparing my natal chart with city incorporation date charts, a form of astrological synastry), I decided to settle in a warm-ish, drier little town, just north of the Bay where my Juno IC line came into high relief. Juno is the asteroid goddess of marriage. This is where I married my husband, and where I spent another decade.

Honestly, I have never used astro-mapping as answer to the question “where should I move?”- not even with this information at my disposal. To me, using astro-mapping as the one criteria to relocate to a place is not only impractical but fraught with potential for confusion. In our very human desire to avoid challenges and suffering, our Ego is apt to interpret certain energies as more favorable than others, when in truth it is our Soul that decides what makes for an interesting and well-rounded life experience for us. Or, said another way: If all we truly wanted and needed were Venus and Jupiter lines then why do we also have a Pluto, Mars, Saturn? The fact is, having spent a large part of my early life on a Pluto line gave me an advantage – intimacy with that part of myself called Pluto- a difficult area in my natal chart which I’ve needed to work harder to integrate. Another fact: I lived on my Neptune line for twenty years, where I successfully advanced my career and fell in real, lasting, love. Yes, I experienced unwanted difficulties associated with the shadow side of Neptune, but this was because my natal Neptune is in a tricky relationship with the rest of my birth chart, and so… my chart: my lines.

One astrologer acquaintance of mine decides where in the world to spend each year by relocating his solar return to advantage. I’m not entirely convinced how that plays out in the long run. No matter where we are, the Universe is infinitely creative at folding whatever timely spiritual progress at hand onto our experience of place, and time (I also look at transits and progressions for supplementary information on an experience of place: just as our planets can be superimposed onto the globe, so can our transits and progressions). Plus, it’s rare that life gives us the generous luxury of choosing, scattershot, where we want to live — more often there’s a job, a lover, relative or finances magnetizing us in one direction. So, as much as I like to think it’s a wide open world, that we’re each our own Columbus at our oyster helm, when it comes to the big decisions of our lives, money, security, relationships, and gravity usually win out. Or so says my practical ninth house Saturn.

This is what I can offer from my own experience: Instead of using Astro-Mapping as a solution to rootlessness, lovelessness or homelessness, I now believe the best way to use this method is to become a more self-aware explorer of your own life adventure. Astro-map a trip before you visit. Get an astro-mapping reading from an astrologer, set an intention around what you’d like to experience, given all the places and possibilities that could happen. Then take a trip, and witness your experience. Have fun with it. Notice all of the synchronicities, all of the archetypes at dynamic play. I promise, your trip will not only be a more personally rich and exciting time for it, but the very first time you directly experience what life is like on your ‘Venus Line’ or ‘Moon Line’ you will probably never look at travel, or geography, in the same way again.

Astro-Mapping Techniques

Astro*Carto*Graphy

This popular technique was developed by Jim Lewis, and here’s how it works. Let’s say you were born at sunset in Italy. At that moment, in Japan, the Sun would be rising, in San Francisco it would be high noon in the sky, and in Bombay it would be midnight. Astrologers who plot these rising, setting, noon and midnight points onto a special astro*carto*graphy map call these your “Sun lines”. The rising, setting, noon and midnight points correlate to the four angles of the birth chart: the rising or Ascendant (ASC), the setting or Descendant (DSC), noon or MidHeaven (MC) and midnight or Imum Coeli (IC). We do the same for all the planets: when you were born, somewhere in the world Venus was rising, the Moon was setting, etc. so when we relocate we discover that certain energies in our birth chart are strengthened. For example, we might find our ‘spiritual home’ on a Moon (home) or Jupiter (spirituality) line, or find our Venus (art, love & relaxation) line a creative and relaxing place.

Relocated Charts

Obviously your birth chart is more than just four angles. As you globetrot east or westward, you take your entire chart with you which means that when you move, your whole chart is relocated to a new place. The difference between astro-cartography and a relocated chart is where astro-cartrography tells you where energy is strongest by examining planets that fall on the strongest four angles, the re-locational chart includes all twelve houses of the birth chart and therefore offers more information.

A relocated chart acts similar to a permanent transit; it affects your entire experience of place for the duration of your stay. Now might be a good time to answer the question, Does this mean that when you move your birth chart changes? No. But… Your spiritual karma stays the same. However, you will tweak your chart by moving, so a move will subtly color the spiritual intention of your actual natal chart, perhaps making one area of life more accessible over another, or stretching you in new ways. For instance, let’s say you have a reclusive and spiritually minded Twelfth House Natal Sun. You move West and your Sun moves into the expressive Third House, where you have an opportunity to teach meditation classes (teaching= Third House). This could help an otherwise shy recluse, shine.

Local Space Lines

Your planets, originating from your birthplace -or- your current residence, projected like a splayed three hundred and sixty degree compass onto a flattened horizon line.

Here’s a more technical definition quoted from Winstar II files, “This technique views the chart as a map of the 360 degrees of the horizon surrounding an even such as birth, with the various planets’ positions plotted on it. This chart, then, describes the horizon of a place…The planets are projected onto the horizon using the coordinates, azimuth and alitutde (instead of the zodiac’s longitude and ecliptic latitude). Local space is mainly used to show a direction that would be empowering (according to specific planetary meaning) to the individual. Astrologers migh use the technique to see where they could prefer to live. For example, they may wish to go to an area with a more pronounced Mars activity level, according to their birth chart. Or, the concept can be applied to changes in your immediate vicinity, such as where to plant a garden when using your home as the reference point.”

Local Space can be used on a macro or micro level, an add on to the above techniques, or as a form of astrological Feng Shui for your home.  Imagine a compass projecting lines on a global level, or inside your house. Is your office located on a local space Mercury line? Is your refrigerator on a local space Jupiter line? Maybe that’s why you keep running for the refrigerator at all hours of the day!

Traveling By Your Stars, How It Works

At the time I stumbled upon this new tool, life hadn’t afforded me the opportunity to travel internationally. When at age thirty-two, I made my first international trip, my astro-mapping knowledge came with me. Now, I always check my star maps, then pack and plan accordingly. It’s not as immediate as knowing how to effectively pack one’s suitcase for the right weather; more like being able to spot opportunities and energies you might not have otherwise noticed had you not known to look.

For example, in June we were going to Italy. I noticed my Sun line setting there, and my North Node rising. Generally, the setting Sun highlights partnerships and the Nodal lines bring interesting partnerships and alliances. This is cookbook astrology 101, similar information to what we might find out on a computer service, or astro.com. While this is good information and absolutely relevant, it is generic and not totally specific to me, not yet. At this point, an astrologer (should) overlay this type of information onto the natal chart, interpreting the lines according to my relationship to my own planets. After all, it is MY Sun and MY Node.

My natal Capricorn North Node is in the third house, the house of information exchange and teaching, meaning that in Italy, this particular part of my life (third house) would start behaving in a first house (Rising or Ascendant) manner. In a similar vein, relocated to Italy, my natal Sun in the ninth house of philosophy and higher education would become a seventh house Sun – a people and partnership-oriented placement.

How did I use this information? My husband acted as my seventh house Sun-liaison, pitching a lecture on the astrology of travel to our host, a proprietor of a bed and breakfast. The response was enthusiastic. Yes, they wanted me to speak to a group at their hotel. In fact, the owner’s fiance loved astrology -and she was from the Bay Area. Not only would they host a special reception on their candlelit veranda in my honor, they would also advertise me on their website to visitors and locals alike. The result was a beautiful Gemini Full Moon “Travel By Your Stars” lecture given to a group of 15 Italians and Swedes on the Adriatic Sea. My absolute favorite part of the experience, besides being surrounded by Italian men? The Italian Virgo man who offered to be my veritable Vanna White, holding the globe for me as I spoke (you really can’t beat that symbolism).

Karmic Disclaimer

Does all this sound exciting? Are you getting heady with the thought of having a super power at your fingertips? When a synchronous opportunity, a chance to relocate or go on an exotic getaway clicks into your Soul’s evolutionary intent for the moment, great things can happen. You will not become another person, but such a serendipitous move can re-make you. I have witnessed many a great thing happen in great places.

Yet we cannot change our Soul’s unfolding, or evolutionary intent, by astro-relocating to a new place. While we can experience facets of our Self bloom in new ways, we take our spiritual work with us, the good and difficult. For instance, let’s say you have challenging relationship issues to work through, and after reading a lovely description you decide your Venus line will deliver a life of erotic bliss. Yet when you move to the Venus line, you discover all those difficult experiences in love come into high relief – because that’s your spiritual work.

And, as I said earlier, it’s a creative universe. There are infinite ways to experience that most coveted Venus line, the Goddess of Love. Once I traveled to my Venus MidHeaven line in Cairo, Egypt. Perhaps a good place to find a partner and romance, the astrological software said. I was already married, so what happened? Soon after dusk, from our hotel room balcony, we witnessed wedding after wedding occurring in the nearby courtyards. Let me reiterate; Big Fat Egyptian weddings blaring loud music till 2 AM every. single. night. While pleasantly romantic for the hundreds, if not thousands, of people around me, it wasn’t my idea of a good time.

So while you know what to expect, you also have no idea what to expect, if you know what I mean.

That’s the job of the astrologer– to a degree. An astrologer trained in astro-mapping can help you understand the map a bit better. Remember, though, while we may hold a map of your consciousness we do not intimately know your particular consciousness. Only you do. Perhaps the most important key in understanding how you will respond, favorably or unfavorably, to a place, is to thoroughly explore how you’ve already experienced the archetypes of those planets in your life today and apply your life experience to what you think could possibly happen on those planetary lines, for you. Then book a ticket & find out. Experience is always the best teacher.

© 2011 by Jessica Shepherd