Friday, June 15, 2012

The United Astrology Conference: UAC #4 Retrospective

One Last Déjà-UAC

© 2012 by Joyce Mason
All Rights Reserved


The presentations at UAC, overall, were the highest quality, the best of the best. You can share my experience of how difficult it was to decide which of the 15 possibilities to choose in each time slot by checking out this UAC 2012 Sessions link. Click each session header (Session 1, Session 2, etc.) to see the myriad offerings. I think these descriptions speak for themselves to give you the flavor of the quality of the UAC fare. I will share my favorites among the talks I heard and links to the speakers’ websites, if you want to learn more about them and their work:

  • Donna Van Toen, What’s the Trigger?  How the tightest square in your chart often is a key to vocational aptitudes and directions. Donna also did a talk on vocational signatures in the chart that I could not attend. I heard it was terrific and look forward to buying on CD.
  • Steven Forrest, Living Evolutionary Astrology. Hints about the distorting influences left resolved from prior life times act like an invisible magnetic field behind the surface of the birth chart.
  • Lynn Bell, Body and Psyche: The Archetypal Language of Planets and Symptoms. The body speaks to us in many ways, and when we listen with a "planetary" ear, a symptom will often lead to a particular place in the chart, and a specific theme of burning or restriction, of twists and breaks or out of control growth.
  • Donna Page, Life Coaching with Astrology: Use Astrology as a Foundation for Life Coaching. Astrology is the perfect tool for life coaching. Learn this valuable service to help your clients transform their lives into the potential and promise in the natal chart.
  • Alan Oaken, From Intellect to Intuition: The Astrologer as Healer. The function of the astrologer/healer is to unlock the inner potential of the horoscope, giving form and focus to our unfolding awareness. Healing always takes place from above to below. How do Uranus, Neptune, and Pluto function to bring about a greater awareness of the Life Force contained within us?

Best of all, recordings of almost every talk at UAC will be available on the official website by the end of June: (The exception may be the occasional instance where there were technical difficulties in taping.) Like everyone else trying to multi-task, there were more presentations I couldn’t attend than I could. I plan to purchase those on CDs. In a month, I won’t be on astrological overload anymore—I hope! I’ll be ready for more input. I wanted to buy them before I left New Orleans, but I was out of it from the flu – and pushing my 50-lb. suitcase limit!

Astrology’s “Oscars”

I learned firsthand how noisy a sit-down dinner of over 900 people can be at the Marion D. March Regulus Awards. I could hardly hear myself think, but the most crucial information appeared on big screens, including a touching posthumous retrospective about Marion March, the astrologer honored in naming these awards. You can be there now with this fabulous tribute to Marion on You Tube, thanks to the UAC techno elves: 


The 2012 Marion D. March Regulus Award Winners were:

Discovery, Innovation and Research: Robert P. Blaschke
Ena Stanley
Theory and Understanding: Nick Campion
Community Service: Joyce Levine
Professional Image: Chris McRae
Lifetime Achievement Awards: Michael Lutin, Ray Merriman

You also can search for “UAC You Tube” and find other goodies from the conference, but don’t miss Nadiyah Shah’s highly professional You Tube film of her time in New Orleans. It’s outstanding and captures way more than we’ve covered here so far  in visuals. Thanks, Nadiyah, for sharing this with the world! 

Friendship, NOLA and Neighborhoods

Meeting old friends and new is one of the biggest charms of any UAC, and as I mentioned previously, I saw some people many times and others I knew were there—not at all. I was charmed, finally, to meet Sandra Mosley who lives on Oahu who did a wonderful post on The Radical Virgo in March 2011, A Prescription for Planets in Pisces: SoulCollage ® Your Natal Chart. While we didn’t get much one-on-one time in the whirl of the conference, I was delighted to have Sandra’s company on a couple of group dinner outings, including the Regulus Awards, even if we had to wave across the table! Learn more about Sandra and her husband David’s work at their ZodiacArts site, full of images that will take your breath away, as they combine their astrological know-how with symbolic art, books and calendars.

Treme's birthplace of rock 'n' roll is now a laundromat.
My Chiron 101 Summer School of 2011 came to life when I met one if its most upbeat participants, Kat Randall. Our meeting and its context was one of the highlights of my trip! Kat and I are both fans of the HBO program, Treme. Kat and her friend Robin met up with me to do a Treme walking tour. Turned out to be one of the best ways ever to get to know New Orleans. The Treme is a historical   neighborhood, sometimes called by its proper French name, Faubourg Tremé. It’s located in the mid-city adjacent to the French Quarter. From its beginnings at the end of the 18th century, the Treme was a diverse neighborhood of Caucasians, Haitian Creoles, and free persons of color. The town square was known as Congo Square, a place slaves gathered to dance on Sundays before the end of the Civil War. [1]

Tomb of the Unknown Slave. [2]
Congo Square was also an important marketplace where slaves could sell crafts and crops to raise money to purchase their freedom. The “Creoles of Color” band gave concerts that evolved into a more improvisational style that gave birth to jazz. The history of the Treme is rich and the slice of post-Katrina life depicted on Treme, the HBO show, has given me my greatest sense of New Orleans and its rich history. Sandy, our tour guide, a walking encyclopedia on Treme, deepened my sense of what jazz and New Orleans are all about. Jazz is “down and dirty” music whose terminology is sexual in origin which gave birth to many other forms of music. Because it is so diverse, reporting the history of jazz is difficult, but I like the loose definition offered by jazz critic Joachim Berendt, " a form of art music which originated in the United States through the confrontation of blacks with European music." [3]

It became clear to me in the Treme: New Orleans a melting pot in the most positive sense of the word, a place where people experienced, then and now, the struggles of survival and the power of their strength of spirit. There’s a sense of acceptance here that reflects the highly Aquarian chart of New Orleans (more on that in a bit). There is music, a unique brand, and New Orleans got the name The Big Easy because it was easy for musicians to make a living here. Culture is thick and meaningful, and it dips deep into the past and permeates forward from now into the future. I felt welcome and at home in New Orleans; bigger yet, it became a part of me. From everything I read and have seen, it seems like the Statue of Liberty might just as well have been placed near New Orleans on the banks of the Mississippi.

I cut my tour of the Treme short for lunch with Donna Cunningham—well worth it! Donna has been a mentor, colleague and dear friend dating back to the early 1980s. We hadn’t seen each other in person in way too long, even though we both live on the West Coast. It was great catching up with her.

My last big food splurge was brunch at the famous Brennan’s restaurant. As fate would have it, the organizer of the get-together, Deborah Smith Parker was unable to come to the conference, end the end, due to other commitments. Deborah and sister San Diegan, April Elliott Kent, are both speaking at NCGR-Sacramento Area later this year. Also invited were Anne Beversdorf, formerly of San Diego now from Austin, TX—someone I had not seen in close to 20 years. I loved reconnecting with her and meeting her friend Ricia Doren, who rounded out our “foursome in Gulf.” The three-course brunch was out of this world, as was the conversation with these bright and talented astrologers. I hope you enjoy meeting them via their links here.

New Orleans: Birth Chart and Underbelly

Bourbon Street at night.
Now comes the part that’s both hard to report yet the most meaningful for me—and maybe for you, too, because it speaks to the imprint of a place on our psyches. It also says something about AstroCartoGraphy and other forms of locational astrology.

New Orleans is actually lucky I ever set toe on its soil again after what happened to me there in 1971. I was in my mid-twenties, a time of life I consider psychological adolescence. Given that, you can know from the start that the story was high drama. To cut to the chase, if you ever heard the old song, Tennessee Waltz, that’s essentially what happened to me. T-Pluto was conjunct my Sun and offered up for my learning a painful double betrayal. My roommate, boyfriend and I were traveling together—and she not only got involved with him; they ended up getting married. Because she and I also worked together, it was not just devastating but very public.

Up to six months before UAC, I wondered if I should dare go, considering this past history, especially with T-Pluto currently conjunct my Moon. (My Sun and Moon are in wide square, so you can’t touch one without the other.) While I have long forgiven the people involved and came to terms with what happened, there is always that imprint of past pain, the five percent of me that still needed some work.

The brave thing, I figured, was to go. That’s the universal nudge I felt. I went with my gut, and I wasn’t sorry. Somehow, as a result, I was able to pluck the last of the pain like an unwanted eyebrow, root and all. I got to see the personal historical context of what happened there and why New Orleans was the perfect place—maybe the only place—it could have played out. I also saw for the first time why this particular loss was so difficult. It was the first time I had opened my heart after my final break-up with the man that took me more than 40 years to get over, all tolled.

Both people involved in this painful past experience had astrological profiles similar to the New Orleans chart. My map lines in NOLA are Mars/IC and Chiron/DSC. (Remind me in my next life to opt for something other than Chiron in Scorpio square Pluto!) Astrologer Wendy Ashley commented at a UAC long ago: Before Chiron’s discovery, Mars was our “wounder.” Both planets of wounding are activated for me in New Orleans—which may also explain why I got blisters, regardless of which pair of shoes I was wearing, from walking around the French Quarter!

The release of old tears and new insights has been enhanced by another hunch I followed before the conference that endured afterwards. Something told me to read fiction about New Orleans to orient myself to returning there. That’s when I discovered Louis Maistros. Talk about someone who has captured the soul of a place. He helped me feel New Orleans and the powerful otherworldly healing beat that exists there, a jazz that pulses with every heartbeat. He helped me embrace that beat, even when it was a pain that must be endured to purge and begin again. I recommend his work highly, especially if you are Plutonian. (If you aren’t, you many not cotton to the brink of life/death and the interweaving of the living/dead that permeates his writing.)

I read Anti-Requiem: New Orleans Stories (free on Kindle) before the trip. With only a few stories left when I got home, I could not resist buying his novel, The Sound of Building Coffins. The story takes place just before the turn of the 20th century and is masterful in conveying the mix of otherworldly presence that both motivates and sometimes decimates the struggle for survival among the odd, interwoven characters. The New Orleans he paints of back then feels like the New Orleans I just visited, more than 100 years later. There are more buildings, people dressed differently, but the beat goes on.

“Feeling my way through” seems to be the prescription for my T-Pluto conjunct Moon, as it forms a transitory T-square with T-Uranus and my natal Venus, Neptune and Mercury in Libra. I am having dreams of death and images with predominant Cardinal red. I am also dealing with my Cardinal Mars in Cancer, as this trip brought me “to the line” of Mars/IC and how difficult it is to do Mars in a nurturing sign and root house.  I have no idea where I’m going or what I’m doing, but I somehow trust it will all turn out right. As I said to a friend just this weekend, “I want to blow up my Moon and start over.” I’m channeling Pluto!

With T-Chiron trine my natal Chiron, I am trusting that the waters of Pisces/Scorpio will continue to heal, including some health issues that are clearly emotional in basis, because neither Western or Eastern medicine has done much to budge them.

Of all things I could have in Scorpio, I’m grateful Jupiter is one of them. My gallows humor saves me. That’s why this is my favorite line in Louis Maistros’s bio: He is mildly self-conscious about the fact that he shares a birthday with Lee Harvey Oswald, and is currently working out a conspiracy theory about that.

I hope sharing my diverse impressions about UAC and New Orleans has been a conspiracy of the best kind, not how the word has come to be used, but in its original meaning to breathe together.


Photo Credits: NOLA at Night © Charles Aghoian - Bourbon Street at night © Sara Fisk. Other photos by Joyce. Videos as noted in clips.


1. Treme – Wikipedia 

2. The Tomb of the Unknown Slave is located at St. Augustine Church, the oldest African-American parish in the USA.

3. Jazz -  Wikipedia 

Here are links to all the Vicarious UAC Posts, if you want to read the entire series:


Anonymous said...

Hello, it's Krissy again (I talked about the feminine energy of NOLA before the conference). I almost died when I checked the chart for that city. Its planets conjunct many of my strongest ones! Perhaps that was why I was able to totally feel the vibration! Maybe if I get a chance, I should live there for a little while to see what may happen in my life... :)

P.S. Kudos to you for facing that most upsetting past. I'm learning that grief is a very powerful emotion and one that doesn't easily go away.

Joyce Mason said...

Hi, again, Krissy! Though it's something I often forget to do, checking out the birth charts of places where we have strong resonance, experiences, or impacts of one sort or another can truly be mind-blowing. I want to hear if you do that experiment of living in NOLA for awhile!

Thanks for your insight about how grief can linger--and for your kind words about my facing it. I find the more I do, the more the sad story fades and life comes into balance. But as you point out, it doesn't come easy. Reminds me of what a friend once said about people wanting instant relationships, like Cup-a-Soup. Same thing goes for healing them! Ergo the expression, "Time heals all wounds."

Mads Elung-Jensen said...

Sounds like a wonderful time, and well done for going! I suppose with Pluto transits, you just have to face what there is to face and trust that is exactly what's to be done. Hard as it is, it's much harder not to do it. As for 'time heals', I only think it heals if you actively work on the healing too. Emily Dickinson said it so beatifully

THEY say that “time assuages”,—
Time never did assuage;
An actual suffering strengthens,
As sinews do, with age.
Time is a test of trouble,
But not a remedy.
If such it prove, it prove too
There was no malady.

All the best, Mads

Joyce Mason said...

Great point, Mads. Time is ruled by Saturn who really appreciates hard work! But he also rewards it.

I'm really glad I went to UAC and New Orleans!