I tell here the story of how I came to astrology and how seemingly random events can give your life direction in ways that you would not have guessed. I don’t believe in fate, other than that I will die one day, or rather that my body’s energy will transform into something else, or probably a billion something-else’s that I would never have dreamed. But I also don’t believe in random coincidences. On our honeymoon on Martha’s Vineyard thirty-five years ago, my partner and I strolled along a beautiful beach while I explained to her that I had spent many years looking for beach glass, those shimmering beads of glass into which the ocean transforms broken glass. I said that I had never found a red one, and within twenty seconds of saying this, I looked down and found my first red beach glass. I say my first one, because twenty-eight years later, we were walking on the same beach on approximately the same day of the year, and I found the only other one I have ever found, and it was in the shape of a heart.
There is an ancient belief in American Indian culture that our individual consciousness has the ability to connect to the universal source of all things, which they simply refer to as “Great Spirit.” Before my two incidents with the red glass, I would not have believed this. What I believe now is that, as conscious beings, we can have insights into our individual lives as part of a much broader life, and that insight gives us clues about our true purpose. The first red glass incident felt like a reassurance that had I made the right decision in marrying for the second time, and the later incident was, for me, proof positive, although I was already quite convinced.
The impact of these two red glass events could not have been more significant for me. They showed me that my interest in something mystical and mythical, which I had begun fourteen years before the first of these events, was not groundless --- that the world I live in is not spiritless or amoral but reflects a sense of purpose that I have always felt. I also believe that it is no coincidence that these events sprang from a well of love. It has always seemed to me that love for others has to be the centerpiece of any world view.
I have begun my book The Weather Within with its subtitle, Bringing Astrology To Your Life, because I know that bringing astrology into my life has been the most meaningful endeavor I have ever undertaken, and the desire to find meaning has been my central life-theme. Of course, one could easily say that planting a garden or creating a new app for an iPhone is meaningful, but I’m talking about the kind of life meaning that drops like the proverbial pebble in water and expands in waves through your emotions, your thoughts, your body and your spirit. This is the essence of astrology. More than that, it seems to me that the events that truly move us to take new directions in our lives are either strikingly beautiful or in some way profoundly thought-provoking, like creating a poem.
Like poetry, astrology works in very similar ways, speaks a language of metaphor (“the feeling of Neptune is like floating in water”), analogy (“as the Sun is the center of our solar system, so the sign it rules, Leo, seeks a central role in our consciousness”), imagery (“the Capricorn mountain goat moves cautiously upward ledge by ledge”), and word association (“the essence of Aries is courage.”) Astrology cannot predict reliably, and yet it gives context to our fears and hopes for the future. It prefers to point a way for us to follow rather than tell us where we are misguided --- to predict the weather within us, as it were. It shows us we can live without shame or second guessing. The myths and metaphors are alive in our hearts and in our subconscious; we need only pay close attention. Ours is truly an old play in a constantly-changing new theater.
The British/American poet David Whyte is an amazing storyteller as well as poet. His talks are famous for presenting the points of view of his own and other people’s poetry, and they are not limited to English-speaking poets, as he is fluent in several other languages. In a CD entitled Thresholds, he speaks of how we can get lost in the anxiety of daily life and lose sight of the inner other person that is striving to come forth if we will just pay attention. He recites several poems from his book, Everything Is Waiting For You. This CD inspired my writing this book because, from a young age, I have wanted to teach and tell the world about my fascination with the stars and planets.
I remember at the age of eleven drifting in my rowboat in the middle of our pond at midnight and wanting to know about the night sky. I had just sneaked out of our house after an upsetting incident, and the sight of billions of stars on a clear summer night took my breath away and at the same time calmed me. These were tiny lights with hope of forever in them.
But it wasn’t the facts about these stars that interested me as much as the meaning of them. I thought about thousands of years of human history looking up at this same scene. I could see why, as I had learned at the Science Museum in Boston, people saw animals and humans in the night sky by connecting the dots the way I used to do in school workbooks. When the ancients of Mesopotamia, Egypt and Greece learned that some of these lights moved, as the Sun and the Moon did, they gave them names as a way of honoring the gods they worshipped. There were, they intuited, great stories above us that somehow reflected our own stories.
Here, hundreds of thousands of years after humans began to wander and wonder, we know a great deal more about that Universe above us, but are still at a loss to understand our own behavior in the light of it. Our early attempts to learn were labeled by the ancient Greeks “astro-logos”, literally “star-words” (the Word according to the stars.) About two-and-a-half millennia later we are still gathering information about our Earth behavior and its relevance to Universe behavior. In spite of our strong desire to have a reliable answer, neither of these behaviors is the least bit predictable. We have only two tools to make sense (or you may call it wisdom) of it all: logical minds and open hearts.
As I lay in that rowboat, I also realized that I was being comforted by the fact that this nighttime world was so much more calm and inviting than the daytime world of my family and home just a few hundred yards away. I was imbued with the duality of mystery and visible certainty, the paradox of outward seeking in the face of darkness and inward seeking in the face of the visible world.
After my night at age eleven with the stars, I spent the next eighteen years trying to cope with my life with only minimal understanding from my family. They didn’t know who I was, and I had given up on my true dream. As David Whyte says in his poem, Sometimes:
. . . you come
to a place
whose only task
is to trouble you
but frightening requests,
conceived out of nowhere
but in this place
beginning to lead everywhere.
Requests to stop what
you are doing right now,
to stop what you
while you do it,
that can make
that have patiently
waited for you,
that have no right
to go away.
NOTE: Printed with permission from Many Rivers Press,
www.davidwhyte.com. David Whyte, Sometimes, from River Flow,
New & Selected Poems ©Many Rivers Press, Langley, WA USA
In my twenty-ninth year, I began to catch up with the important questions, and like so many people before me, events in my life forced me to pay attention. I was facing a divorce, I lost my job teaching English in high school, and my father died all in a year’s time. Astrologers, of course, will nod their heads at this because this is the period of time known as the “Saturn Return”, the time when the planet Saturn returns to the point where it was at your birth. Not everyone goes through the same level of drama that I did, but they probably, if they are paying attention, will come to some important reckonings about their lives.
After a short time of scrambling with odd jobs, I decided to start my working career all over again by taking courses in computer programming and getting a new job as a documenter of software. In that same year I had a boss who was an amateur astrologer, and he introduced me to astrology. He sat down with me over my birth chart and proceeded to describe what I had been going through psychologically without knowing ahead of time anything other than that I had previously been a teacher. He even explained that when he went through his Saturn return his father died.
I was at last beginning to deal with the “questions that have no right to go away.” The Universe had reminded me that only I could answer the questions, and it would take a concentrated effort to find those answers.
What I did know immediately was that, even though I was divorcing, I had an obligation to my wife and six-year-old daughter to provide for them as best I could. So my life split in two directions at once: the practical, money-making vocation of software development, and the long-awaited avocation with astrology.
I spent thirty-six years in software development before I retired. As for astrology, it has been the center of my understanding how the world works. I began by studying on my own, doing birth charts for almost everyone within reach of me, turning professional, taking workshops, working with clients, and most importantly teaching others what I have learned. The teaching is a main part of the inspiration for this book. I have discovered that, what satisfies me most, besides my thirty-five year second marriage, is helping people see that they can use astrology as a guide for their lives. I have learned more about myself through astrology than through anything else. I call this “the quest for self-truth.”
My focus for this book is not on the information or how cleverly I can present it to you, but on showing you a way to use your own imagination to find answers to the “questions that have patiently waited for you.”