Astrology is becoming more and more the lingua franca of the alternative and complementary culture, and within the last fifteen years and the advent of the computer age its popularity has risen to unparalleled heights. With that in mind, I recently spoke to astrologer Steve Judd to get an inside edge on the world of modern astrology, and to try and understand how it works for the individual. Steve’s the only astrologer in the UK with a bespoke high street practice and he’s studied it for thirty years. He’s also one of the very few people in the world to hold the MA in Cultural Astronomy and Astrology. Here’s what he had to say….
How did you get into astrology?
SJ: As a child I was interested in puzzles, patterns and shapes, and when I left the army at twenty I found the emerging alternative culture of the mid seventies. I picked up my first astrological books then, but didn’t really begin to calculate charts or understand the patterns until the early eighties.
What is astrology, and what use is it in today’s world?
SJ: Look around you. Astrology is everywhere, in every tabloid, all over the web; it’s the biggest seller outside of sex. All elements of society, from the royal courts and the politicians to the church and layman use astrology, some daily, and others more generally. It gives people a twenty first century relationship with the divine and spirituality that no other practice or theology does. As to what it is….it’s a combination of mathematics, geometry, pattern recognition and intuition that gives a perspective on the world and the universe unlike any other.
What is astrocartography?
SJ: Basically, it involves overlaying a map of the planet with your horoscope. The spots on Earth where certain planets were rising or setting on the horizon when you were born show geographical areas where you can be successful in different ways, i.e. wealth, health, romance, career etc. Alternatively, it also shows areas to avoid…….
What does an astrologer actually do?
SJ: A good astrologer should be able to translate the horoscope into
English, not astrobabble, which means showing the client where their particular skills and talents lie as well as where any potential challenges are and how best to work with them. They should also be able to put recent events into context and supply an objective perspective on current situations, as well as make suggestions for the future.
How can you measure the planetary effects upon us?
SJ: It goes without saying that the Moon affects us â€“ just ask police officers or hospital accident and emergency staff what their work is like when it’s full Moon. Sensible surgeons don’t operate then because they know that blood flow is greater at full Moon. You can hear Jupiter on a short wave radio, so if its radio waves are hitting us they must be having an effect of some type. It’s possible to demonstrate how certain metals lose their conductivity during eclipses. The list goes on….
What about sunsign columns?
SJ: I have to be careful here! Most sunsign columns aren’t worth the paper they’re printed on. How can just a few lines of generalised drivel mean anything to anyone? Few of the newspaper astrologers write their own stuff- Jonathan Cainer being a notable exception. The art lies in being able to write words that could easily mean many things to different people.
Can you use astrology to mix and match individuals?
SJ: There’s the composite chart, a mixture of two individuals horoscopes. This shows how the relationship works (or doesn’t!) and in which areas of life its strengths lie. I also compare individual’s charts against each other, this is called synastry. If your Venus is on their Mars, then you’re going to want to drag each other off to bed. But if their Saturn is on top of your Sun, then right from the word go the interaction will be more parent/child rather than equal/equal.
Is it ‘written in the stars’? Is it fate or free will?
SJ: Ah, that old chestnut. An answer to the first question is no, it’s not.
The planets impel, not compel. The second part is a little trickier. Perhaps the easiest way to demonstrate the difference is to visualise yourself in a tree, with one straight trunk going down to the ground, representing the past (fate), whilst the future is along any particular branch ahead of you that you choose to go down (free will).
So if I had a reading from you what would I get?
SJ: You’d get an objective and detached perspective on your life as well as suggestions on how to make your life work more effectively and efficiently. You’d also get a timing perspective, seeing how events and times from the past (as demonstrated through your horoscope) act as a kind of blueprint of potential for the future, and how to utilise the present time to your best advantage. And of course, you’ll get the whole thing on CD and a colour print out horoscope to go with it.
What sunsign are you?
SJ: I’m an untypical home loving Cancerian
Do you consider yourself to have the typical characteristics of your sunsign?
SJ: Hopefully not, because Cancerians can be incredibly moody at times.
Do you have a favorite planet? Which one and why?
SJ: I’m initially tempted to say Mercury because of its communication skills, it gives me the gift of the gab, and I fancy myself as a bit of a wordsmith. Or Uranus, because its changeable and sudden qualities inspire the amateur anarchist in me that sometimes wants to upset the applecart despite knowing that it’s not the sensible thing to do. But realistically, it’s Saturn, because there is just no substitute for hard work, and whilst at times he’s a miserable old git, he will help you persevere and work hard through any type of challenge. It’s only since my late forties that I’ve really began to appreciate him, probably because one of his nicknames is ‘old father time’.
How far in advance do you work out your sunsign forecasts?
SJ: Before I started writing for anyone else and had no deadlines, I would write them either the day before posting them or on the 1st of the month itself. These days, I sometimes am as far as three months ahead, which gets a little weird sometimes, I come out of writing them not sure what week or month I’m in.
What do you see or intuit will happen in 2012?
SJ: Astrologically, 2012 is not hugely significant, at least compared to the years around it. But 1999 â€“ 2010 represent a peak of astrological activity, with the times of late 2010-2016 showing as a time of result and development as a result of that activity. I think that next year (2010) will bring life changing circumstances into our lives more than anytime so far.
Do you need a person’s time of birth to do an accurate personal reading?
SJ: The more accurate the time, the more accurate the reading. But I’ve been doing it so long that I can still do a 75-80% reading with no time of birth at all. Then of course, there’s rectification â€“ birth time detection. This is done by specifying events from the past over a broad time scale, finding which year/month the events happened, and by a process of elimination refining the birth time down.
How often do people normally come for personal horoscopic readings?
SJ: Of my client base, about half return annually, some six monthly, a few monthly and some only when they feel like it!
What type of details can you tell them if they come very regularly?
SJ: Once I’ve done their chart the first time, I never need to include the analysis again â€“ regular clients just get an overview of the recent past, current situation and a forecast for the coming month or two in specific details, where necessary to the day.
Can you explain what the Age of Aquarius really means?
SJ: No! In a nutshell, it’s one of those minute wobbles of the Earth that says that the stars rising at Equinox on the 21stMarch would have risen on the 21st April just over 2,000 years ago, and in just over 2000 years time will rise about the 19thFebruary. It’s called the precession of the Equinoxes, it’s really boring and it ties astrologers up in knots truing to find the actual starting date of the Age of Aquarius. Somewhere out there is an electronic trance version of that song with me superimposed over the top rapping ‘Age of Aquarius â€“ don’t talk to me about the bloody age of Aquarius’.
You’re well known for being committed to Green ways of working … can you tell us a bit more about that?
SJ: What can I say? Since early days I’ve known it was intrinsically wrong to abuse the environment and its peoples, so I’ve made behaving ethically a central tenet of my personal lifestyle. I’ve been active in the past, advocating non violent direct action (NVDA), and I’ll remain committed to Green principles till I fertilize my tree. Not the politics, but the lifestyle. I recycle, try not to fly, don’t have a car, buy conscientiously â€“ practice what I preach.
How can people help themselves most through these times of transition?
SJ: Well, a good sense of humour and an appreciation of the ridiculous always help in my opinion…..
Do you enjoy star gazing at night… assuming there are no clouds?
SJ: Constantly. It is possible to see the whole creation myth in front of your eyes over the UK summer, it makes you realise how unique we are on Earth. When we got off of our knuckles and stood erect a million years ago, the first thing we would have seen would be the sky at night with it’s moving little points of different coloured light. Stories were made to understand this, thus astrology was born.
Do you have a telescope?
SJ: Unfortunately, no. Offers gratefully received.
Which star or planet is the brightest in the northern and southern hemispheres?
SJ: Easy. The brightest star from both hemispheres is Sirius, the dog star or diamond star. Find Orion â€“ come on, everybody knows Orion â€“ and follow the line of Orion’s belt to Sirius. It’s only about eight light years away; there are a number of factual accuracies of Sirius’ orbit and nature known to indigenous tribespeople that defy scientific rationalisation.
Do you have any tips to help us distinguish a bright light as a satellite in the night sky rather than a planet or star? I love looking at the night skies but am never sure what I’m looking at!
SJ: Satellites move fast against the backdrop of the sky, going from one horizon to the other in a few minutes. Stars never change their position relative to each other, or at least so minutely that we never notice it, whereas planets can be seen over a period of time to move relative to the stars behind them. And how do you tell the difference between a planet and a star? Easy. Stars twinkle, planets don’t.