I’m thrilled to report that Gavin has recently begun creating a DVD series where you can get the same amazing core education in astrology as I did at the School for Cyclelogical Studies with Gavin and his School co-founder, John Ruskell, nearly three decades ago in Sacramento. How fondly I remember those classes in Gavin’s small apartment. They felt so intimate, like a conspiracy of inspiration ready to break out and enlighten—maybe even enliven—the world!
Joyce: Gavin, before we tell our readers about your new course, I thought we might start with your philosophy of astrology. Your view had a great influence on me and how I have always used astrology to mentor my own inner growth and that of others. What’s your perspective?
Gavin: Hi, Joyce. It’s great to reconnect after all these years! My view on astrology is that it’s a spiritual tool that can help me to see what it’s like to be inside another person’s skin. It reveals the challenges they are facing in their spiritual growth, their strengths and weaknesses, their life purpose, why they chose their parents and their childhood conditioning and it provides a meaningful framework for understanding the mysteries and personal subtleties of their lives. The older I get, the less I focus on the events of people’s lives and the more I focus on the process of awakening and growing, and using the birth chart map to empower them to create a better future for themselves. I try to come to every chart without preconditions and expectations and let it reveal itself to me through dialogue with my client. So, in a sense I rediscover astrology through each person who shares their chart with me.
Joyce: I’m sure many people come to you for classes who are drawn to astrology, but it doesn’t “grab” everyone. Can you sense the future astrologers in your classes, compared to perpetual students or even dabblers? How does studying astrology benefit people who don’t “go pro?” Certainly, there is more than one goal in taking classes, and I’m sure what you offer is helpful to a variety of people and their needs or motivations for study.
Gavin: To be honest, most of my students are more interested in learning about themselves than becoming astrologers, possibly gathering some new perspectives on life, but there’s also that rare person who is so captivated by astrology that they are willing to spend the time it takes to develop into a full-time astrologer. My experience is that astrologers are mostly self-taught, and over the years there have been a few that have gone off on their own and put the time in to polish their skills, and it’s always gratifying to know that I helped get them on that path! Several of my students have already been dabbling in astrology by the time I meet them, and then I see it as my role to shore up their basic knowledge and help them fine-tune their interpretive skills and develop some confidence. When I moved to Sedona in 1994, I discovered that most people weren’t prepared to make the commitment to lengthy courses like the one I used to teach in Sacramento. As a result, I choose a topic for each week and then depending on who shows up and their level of knowledge, I improvise a class to fit the participants. As much as possible, I use the birth charts of all students throughout the classes to illustrate the subject matter, always trying to balance theory with real life experience. At the very least, a few classes in astrology help people to know themselves a little better, and to understand why other people are different, and once in a while a few students get bit by the astrology bug and keep coming back for more!
In a sense I rediscover astrology through each person who shares their chart with me.
Joyce: I’ve wanted to do more features for beginners on The Radical Virgo, and I see interviewing you as a great start toward meeting that goal. You are one of the first teachers where I’d send a beginner—or even an ongoing student—if they were local to you near Sedona, Arizona. Your DVD series now makes you accessible to anyone. What made you decide to do it—and how to you see it extending your mentor role?
Gavin: Well, I’d always assumed that one day I’d write an astrology book, but as the years went by I realized that I work so much better with the spoken word than as a writer, so I pretty much let go of that fantasy. The way the DVD series came about is that I moved to a small town south of Sedona a few months ago. Partly because of my distance from potential students, and partly because of the depressed economy, I found myself struggling to get students and clients and realized I needed to come up with some more creative ways to get my business flowing again. Up until then I seemed to always have enough of a flow of students and clients to make do, mostly through word-of-mouth and referrals. So, I decided to explore two options, doing teleclasses on the internet and making the DVDs. The teleclasses are still on the back burner as my focus this past few weeks has been on creating the DVD course. So, what initially seemed like a crisis in my financial world has actually opened up the opportunity to reach out to a much wider audience. As I connect with more potential students who like my style of astrology and teaching, I hope to start doing some teleclasses and some personal tutoring. Since leaving Sacramento I have become very comfortable working over the phone, something that was very necessary living in a town as small as Sedona.
Joyce: Give us the details of what’s available and the scope of the DVD series.
Gavin: So far, I have completed the first three DVDs in the series. I hope to do more than twenty altogether! The first one is on the basics of the birth chart, using the visual of a chart to explain the structure, and very simple psychological and spiritual interpretations on planets, houses, aspects and transits. It also includes a bit on my basic philosophy and approach to astrology. The second DVD covers the elements and qualities and how they are the building blocks that create the twelve signs. The third one is on the Moon, looking at the relationship with mother, the inner child and emotional security needs, as well as aspects between the Moon and the other planets. Next up is the Ascendant, followed by the Sun, in which I’ll not only look at Sun aspects but also the relationships between Sun, Moon and Ascendant. After that, I plan to create a DVD on each planet. Other planned topics include aspects, transits, chart synthesis, and two or three DVDs on relationships. Of course, things may evolve as I move through the process of creating the next few DVDs, but that’s my plan at the moment. I’ve also had the idea of doing a DVD using famous people’s charts as examples, maybe one on the astrology of the USA, and even a DVD that is a full interpretation session with a real live person. One step at a time, though!
Joyce: Astrology breeds perpetual learners. After all, what we need to learn is as big as the sky! At yours and John’s classes, I met some very significant influences on me—the late Jim Lewis, creator of Astro*Carto*Graphy, pairing geography with astrology, and Donna Cunningham—just two examples. Donna went on to mentor me as an astrologer, writer, and flower essence practitioner. What other astrologers have been your major influences, the ones you’d want to share with others as they initiate or expand their astrological education?
Gavin: Well, my earliest influences were Alan Oken and Noel Tyl, but things really opened up for me when I discovered the writings of Stephen Arroyo and Liz Greene. That’s when things shifted from astrology being a fascinating hobby into the awareness that perhaps this was my true calling. I went to some tremendous conferences with Stephen and Liz in the early 80’s in Berkeley, where I also met Donna Cunningham, Tracy Marks, Dennis Elwell and Jim Lewis, and I’d already been turned on to Richard Idemon’s work a few years earlier. The greatest personal teacher for me was John Ruskell, who I worked with for more than 10 years during my time in Sacramento when we taught classes together and co-created the Star Experience workshop series, which has now morphed into the Aspire Foundation, recently renamed Center of Consciousness. There’s nothing like teaching to help one learn a subject more thoroughly, and John has some unique perspectives which quickly became incorporated into my own awareness. Before I left California I also studied with healer and teacher Michael Tamura and his wife Raphaelle, and they both went through my 32-week course, which enabled me to integrate more psychic and spiritual perspectives into my astrology work.
Joyce: If you had one or two major bits of advice to pass onto students from the get-go of their astrological studies, what would they be?
Gavin: Read a lot of good astrology books, go to some conferences and find other astrology students to share with. It’s also a good idea to do some simple readings early on, to help build confidence. When I started out, I charged a few dollars for a hand-written chart interpretation. I would read my Arroyo and Greene books and extract some of the most relevant information and make a 10- page analysis for my first “clients”. I think I did about a hundred “readings” this way and it really helped cement those ideas into my being. Before long, I had discarded the books and was flying free, and from then on, it was just learning through experience. It also helps to find a good teacher, and for me at least, as I suggested earlier, teaching astrology to others is what really helped me develop ways of articulating these ideas to others.
Joyce: Give us the purchasing details on your DVD series. I’d like to add that compared to the overall cost of my many years of studying astrology via classes, conferences, and books, this is a genuine bargain!
Gavin: Thanks, Joyce! Sold separately each DVD is $25 in a slim CD case (with $4 shipping), and I am also offering them in sets of three in a 3 DVD case for $70 (with $5 shipping). These are USA shipping prices and it will be a few dollars more to ship to other countries. Anyone wanting to purchase them can send a check or money order to: Gavin Carruthers, 4925 Dandy Dude Drive, Rimrock, AZ 86335. If they need more information they can call or e-mail (email@example.com) me personally.
Joyce: Gavin, thanks for your time in visiting The Radical Virgo. Any final comments?
Gavin: Well, one thing that comes to mind has to do with the responsibility of being an astrologer. What I’m really getting at is the difference between “giving energy” and “taking energy” in interactions with astrological clients. Astrology is a powerful tool and it can create great harm if used irresponsibly and without awareness.
There is a difference between “giving energy” and “taking energy” in interactions with clients.
I had the good fortune of being confronted with this issue at an early age by a more experienced astrologer who prompted me to examine my deeper motives for being an astrologer. Since then what I have learned is that if I am doing a reading to impress someone, to score points, or to make myself look good, I am actually “stealing energy” from that person. On the other hand when I use my communicative skills to serve my clients and to create clarity for them from a place of humility I am “giving energy”. It can be a subtle but extremely important difference. This issue can be challenging for students when they are trying to prove their worth as astrologers, but if faced and integrated it makes for a much better kind of astrology. In the end it’s not the quality of techniques that the astrologer uses but rather the quality of their consciousness that makes the real difference.
Gavin Carruthers has been a full-time astrological consultant and teacher for more than 30 years. His love for astrology began at an early age, and by 1981, he was living in Sacramento, CA, where he co-founded the School for Cyclelogical Studies and The Star Experience workshop series with astrologer John Ruskell. Gavin has lectured at AFAN conferences in California, and at 1998’s Steps to Awareness in Telluride, Colorado. In 2008, he was interviewed on the Dr Pat radio show, and was a featured speaker at Finding the Gift in Shift in Sedona in 2009. Gavin is committed to expressing a positive and spiritual astrology as his life’s work. He can be reached at (928) 204-2277 and firstname.lastname@example.org. His new website is Astropotential.com . You can also network with him on the following sites: Facebook (Members Only) or Gavin’s Transformational Astrology Facebook Group.