From The Eyes of the Heart:
I share here what has been revealed to me through my experiences with astrology, beginning with my initial discovery of astrology and continuing through a shamanic quest for my Self and my path. This quest has led me to a direct experience of the Sun, Moon, planets, and constellations. I am making no claims to have found “the truth” of astrology but am simply sharing the truth of what I have experienced. This story is a description of my journey into the unseen and wondrous dimensions of star knowledge, to seek clarity and perspective.
Long before my shamanic studies began in 1995, I pursued a college degree in philosophy. I had hoped to find out who I was and what was real. Although I didn’t find answers, I did realize something about the process of philosophical inquiry: thinking can be very slippery and manipulative. I felt like I was in the Grand Central Station of university life, where my mind endlessly rode various freight trains of thought, which, in turn, took me to places in the realm of ideas that left me scattered, unfulfilled, and stymied. I graduated without discovering a satisfying doorway to real knowledge.
After graduation, I was employed by a carpenter dedicated to fine craftsmanship. His wife was interested in astrology, and she talked fervently about it over dinners at their home. My doubtful, critical mind, sharpened by repeated philosophical analysis, wanted to keep astrology and all such superstitions in the closet, where they seemed to belong. But when I heard descriptions of Sun signs, I was surprised by how alluring they sounded. Could astrology provide knowledge of who I really was?
I had my birth chart calculated, and within a week of ordering the chart, I was staring glassy-eyed at an enchanting circle with symbols and numbers encoded into its geometry. My chart had been calculated on February 29, Leap Day. It certainly felt like a leap of faith — a leap out of my reluctance and suspicion to take a look at what appeared to be some kind of crystal ball on paper. I was enticed by the notion that my chart cosmically connected me to the planets and stars. I purchased lots of books and read through the many descriptions of signs, planets, and aspects. It seemed so amazing that a chart could reveal human potential and cycles of change. I drew up hundreds of charts, learning the math inside and out. I memorized my chart. I found myself remembering aspects of other people’s charts after working with them. The more I dove into astrology, the more I was hooked.
While in this state of being astrologically mesmerized, something began to haunt me. As the intensity of my absorption in astrology increased, my life was being lived through an ephemeris. I felt heady and jumbled, my mind consumed with planetary positions, other authors’ interpretations, and upcoming transits. I buried myself in it all, convinced that the truth must be living inside the right interpretation. I looked for transits that might show me the doors to revelations. Despite many disappointments, I hung onto astrology, writing some articles for magazines, offering readings, and continually searching for the big “ahas.”
Three and a half years after discovering astrology, my first Saturn return was approaching. Perhaps this would be the time when I’d find solid ground beneath me, as suggested by many contemporary astrologers. As a way to embrace the cycle of the ringed planet, I enrolled in a counseling psychology program. I wanted to learn how to promote my emotional growth and well-being and get some sorely needed clarity. I hoped I could integrate theories of personality and human development into chart readings, as others were doing. Moreover, astrology books suggested that my chart indicated a strong talent for counseling, so I figured I must be on the right path.
During the two-year program, I studied and explored how to listen from different psychological perspectives. It was all very interesting, but I felt pulled this way and that way by all the theories, and I was concerned that my efforts weren’t helping anyone. By graduation time, I sensed little substantial change within my self or my clients. To cope with the gnawing uncertainty and disillusionment, I applied to a doctorate program in counseling. Perhaps with a Ph.D. I would feel more confident as a therapist and my past efforts would not be in vain. After all, I had turned 30; it was time for me to know what I wanted to do with my life. I was again facing the bleak unknown when I was denied acceptance into the doctoral program. Feeling stuck, I wondered whether this was what Saturn’s return would mean for me.
Many astrologers refer to commitment as a central theme of Saturn transits, so in the midst of confusion, I committed myself to a relationship, even though I had underlying doubts and fears about doing so. I left my apartment in the northeast to start a new life in the west, hoping that life would be fresh and exciting in a new place, but I seemed to drag my old baggage with me. Putting the counseling aside, I became a high school teacher of math and psychology. Life was quite different being married, and tensions grew when kids came along. Despite my workaholic busyness at home and at work, I quietly hoped for more from each transit and progression.
Ten years after looking at my first natal chart, and still consumed with modern astrology, I was suddenly drawn to earth-based spirituality. I attended workshops, vision quested, and created a new public school environmental studies program. I experienced a new connection with the web of life and began to feel the stars in a different way. They became the guardians of a vast and ancient place of Spirit. It was now apparent to me that the planets and constellations were more than symbols on paper.
As my spiritual interests grew, I created a self-discovery wilderness teepee camp program for youth and adults. During the process, I crossed paths with a Native American healer, who invited me to experience his tribal culture’s tradition, which included a unique understanding of the stars. It took a few more years of spiritual experiences, visions, and momentum, coupled with intense personal crises, to erode my strong attachment to fear. When my beloved dog died unexpectedly, and oh how I grieved her loss, my heart cracked open. I spilled more tears that day than I ever had in my life. She had come to me on Valentine’s Day and I could not imagine my days without her.
An earthquake of change came fast and furiously just before my participation in an old and powerful First Nation ritual. I had intuited that something spiritually profound would happen during the ceremony. Transiting Neptune had moved to a key place in my chart and could not have predicted what was about to unfold. After a full year of preparing for the ceremony, when it was just weeks away, a wave of inspiration moved through me. Somehow, I found enough courage to gaze below the surface of my life and into the emptiness of my pretenses. I no longer felt compelled to compromise myself and my desires in order to find superficial happiness through security and the codependent pleasing of others. Even though I did not know where I was heading, living a half-life in half-truths was no longer acceptable to me. By the first day of the ceremony, my defenses were crumbling, and the walls I had built up around my freedom and joy began tumbling down. The four-day ritual brought me to the death of the old and the end of the world as I knew it.
Not long after the ceremony, I embarked on a journey into shamanism. In this pursuit I had profound spiritual experiences that lead me to the feeling of my Spirit, my ancient Beingness. I also discovered my gifts for communicating with the Spirit World.
With my growing ability to see and travel into the Spirit World, I had many wonderful experiences. On one of my Spirit Journeys to a special cave, a Spirit came to give me a message about astrology. As I was making my way down the shaft of the cave, I became aware that I was not alone. Down to my right was a large Raven stepping along beside me. The way he was walking, lifting each leg high into the air in front of his sleek body, made me laugh. I almost laughed myself out of the journey state. He was very natural about our meeting, as if he had been waiting for me, and he immediately began joking with me. He said he was “jaywalking,” that he liked to break silly, limiting rules and move between worlds in ways that made life exciting. Anything is possible in the nonlinear realms, and he showed me how he soared into various dreamtime places to retrieve knowledge. The Raven had a knack for obtaining the unobtainable and translating symbols into working knowledge, and it was clear that he intended to help me find what I needed to help my self and others.
At the end of my journey time with him, he landed in the middle of a large astrological wheel, the ancient glyphs of the constellations clearly marked on the stone circle around him. He conveyed with his thoughts and feelings that he was going to teach me about the stars through direct spiritual experience.
I was so delighted to learn that there was a new approach to astrology. I missed interacting with the stars and star charts. This time I would be able to work with the star charts using my shamanic tools and abilities, in which there was no need for common textbook interpretations of alignments in the chart. Reading a star chart for myself or another Could unravel like a living movie - vibrant, new, and authentic..
I was in a new place with the astrology. It was the birthing of a new kind of consciousness that would lead to cosmic consciousness that radiates unconditional love and unbound deep caring. I later came to call this new dance with the stars and cosmos, Shamanic Star Knowledge. I was and continue to be deeply grateful to this Ancient Spirit Bird of the Stars. This Raven certainly is a unique Keeper of Shamanic Star Knowledge. Memory of this encounter and the many that have followed live in my heart and continue to reveal new things. And course, there is always so much more ahead!