In this podcast episode Jessica Murray shares some wisdom for a new generation of budding astrologers. We also talk about putting astrological cycles in context, and the last gasp of Pluto in Capricorn.
Advice for a New Generation of Astrologers Transcript
TH: Hello and welcome to this episode of the Astrology University podcast, and today I’m joined by the fabulous Jessica Murray. Hey, Jessica, thanks for joining me.
Jessica Murray: Thank you, Tony, great to be here.
TH: So we’re gonna kinda veer all over the map with some questions today. But I thought we would start with a question about this moment that astrology is having that some people have noticed where interest in astrology has exploded over the last couple of years. The New York Times did an article a little while back, where they analyzed Google search data and found that people’s searches for astrologically-related queries had doubled in the last couple of years.
As an accomplished elder in this field, I was just wondering if you had any advice for this burgeoning new generation of young people who are interested in astrology and who are learning astrology in terms of what astrology can offer and also how it can be used.
JM: Right. You know, I didn’t know that just in the past couple of years it had doubled, that’s amazing. I remember hearing early in the online astrology world that astrology was one of three subjects that exploded thanks to the internet, and the others were porn and sports.
Astrology, porn and sports. That may still be true, who knows, but I think that we should begin by acknowledging the difference between popular astrology in the digital age and the kind of astrology world of the ’70s when a lot of us in my generation began studying it. And that great wave of new age thinking that also included yoga and tarot and Eastern spirituality.
Really, the positives of this new landscape are pretty obvious in that anyone can download their own chart and their own transits in an instant. And teaching and, indeed, learning about anything really has been facilitated. It’s been speeded up, but it’s also been democratized. But again, I’m coming from the idea of when the internet was really new we were very excited about this idea about democratized information, and people who hated doing the math of erecting charts like me were also excited about the fact of getting charts so easily and so quickly.
And also it was very difficult to publish in the old school way. The publishing industry, of course, has been wiped out by the online world, but it’s so much easier to get our information across. And we used to do marketing by snail mail, and we used to put ads for classes up one telephone polls. Do we even have telephone polls anymore?
TH: They do in Portland, but Portland likes anything retro.
JM: Good for Portland. So I used to staple flyers on polls. This is when I was learning astrology. Those are the positives. The downside is there’s such a glut of information, and this is what you were alluding to. The sheer quantity becomes an obstacle. I think a lot of us feel this, not just in my generation and not just in astrology, but if you’re a serious thinker, you have to be looking at this irony of the information age, which is that the quantity of information makes it harder to find quality.
JM: I mean, it’s there if you look for it. And online, I suppose the benefits of having so much accessibility far outweigh the negatives, because if you have millions more words of information there are gonna be thousands more words of good information. But I do worry about the ADD thing.
And this is generally true across the board that there’s a change in the culture that has normalized superficial thinking, and I think that the part of online astrology that it really is an obstacle here, is that it’s an intellectual and a spiritual discipline, and it even requires a certain amount of emotional maturity, I believe, to really understand astrology on the level that you need to to get to the essentials. Let’s call it the archetypal level, not just the personality delineation level, but to understand the essence of it.
And I do think you have to unplug to do that, not just from literally moment-to-moment from the phone, but from the whole cultural carnival, the whole way of thinking that has become normative and distracted with sound bites. A lot of us worry about this, and we may not approve of it, but we’re all swimming in it.
So in order to detach from that, there’s a lot of people, not just astrologers, who are puzzling over this one. But I wanna say about astrology that there’s this belief a lot of us have that the archetypal truth of this symbolic language that we use is already inside us, that it doesn’t just information acquisition, it isn’t just acquiring knowledge in a sense of passing tests, that it’s connecting with the part of yourself where this information already lives.
And I believe in cellular memory that way, in the fact that there’s such a thing as the collective unconscious, where this ancient wisdom and the symbol systems that are its vocabulary, that it exists already, and that we have to access it. If we already possess it, then it’s just a question of tuning out the noise and getting to it.
But you still have to get yourself in front of high quality information. And that, I do tell my students about the teachers I learned from, starting with maybe Carl Jung and Dane Rudhyar and the old greats. But even these great old thinkers are dated in some ways now, and there are so many new voices in astrology that I’m not up on, so it’s a mixed bag.
But the advice I would still give, Tony, is number one, acknowledge the difference between low and high quality information, and number two, seek out the intelligence stuff whose writers, whatever writers you find whose information hits something you recognize as truth, because that’s what I’m talking about, that it would be resonating with something real that we instinctively already know is true. And then I think each book will lead you to the next. And I would tell my students to read everything you can get your hands on.
TH: Definitely. Well, thanks for that, that’s definitely great advice and a great place to start. Well, looking back, how has astrology best served you in your personal life, and as well as in your practice with others, with the clients you worked with?
JM: I think that it’s a symbol system that gives such a big picture perspective. Everybody’s reasons for getting into astrology are different. They’re to be found in their own natal chart. Your reasons for getting in there are going to be part of your own unique makeup and they need to be taken seriously, what the chart says about those initial impulses, in order to find the focus you need. But for me it had a lot to do with this big picture view of life, I have that Sagittarian thing, being interested in meaning systems.
And I’ve always been looking for some kind of more and more all-encompassing symbolic language. I have that Sagittarius-Gemini opposition. So at first I studied linguistics and psychology, and they were all still too limited, until then, I found astrology and it was just as big a picture as possible. It was satisfying because you can find a way to talk about some very tiny dinky little personality-derived issues and you can also find a way to talk about the whole learning arc of the human species.
So it’s little and it’s huge, it’s above and so below. I just found it as a language to be limitless. And I started to feel like talking about the outer world and the trouble it’s in, we needed something that could reach beyond the partisan categories and the dualistic mindset, and astrology can do that.
In terms of understanding other people too, boy, I think anybody who knows astrology on an archetypal level would say this, that it’s so helpful to know even just a little bit of somebody else’s chart, in order to make sense of who they are, and to not take personally how they behave. You know, you can get outside of that personal way of perception, you know what they’re capable of in the highest sense, and that’s an incredible vision to be able to see somebody’s highest potential, whether or not you would talk to them about it.
If you’re a professional astrologer, that’s your job, you’ll try to convey to them what their highest potential is, but even if you’re dealing with them informally, I think you can see the divine potential in somebody, and it gives you a more spacious way of relating to them. And to yourself. Of course, although if you have Saturn in Virgo, like I do, do you also?
TH: I have everything else in Virgo but not Saturn.
JM: So, you know, this idea of you have to keep reminding yourself that we’re here to learn to be human and to love ourselves despite our flaws, not to try to be divine.
TH: Definitely, definitely, definitely, true story. You have a webinar coming up that’s part of a four-webinar event that we have happening on February 1st. If you’re tuning into this podcast after February 1st, you can still tune into the recordings. But the topic of this four-webinar event is Astrology and the Environment, and you’re giving a talk called Back to the Garden: The astrology of Climate Change. And I’m just wondering what inspired you give to give this talk and to prepare this material?
JM: Well, it’s the key issue of our era, isn’t it? I think that future generations will look back and find that talking about anything else if you’re living in the years we’re living in will seem absurd. It’s an unprecedented development in the human condition, which is why they’re calling this epoch the Anthropocene.
And as an existential issue, it’s so beyond just the personal, but everybody has a natal chart and everybody has to find their own way through it, their own role in these times. So it’s both very transpersonal and also kind of excruciatingly personal. A lot of us feel very emotionally about it and are appropriately distressed by it. It’s hard to really think of another existential issue like this in our lifetimes, maybe the nuclear scare of the immediate post-World War II years would compare, but existential, that’s like to be or not to be, the question Shakespeare was talking about.
And we have this incredible language that like we were saying a minute ago is able to take on the widest possible scope imaginable to talk about human affairs. And so I feel like we have a responsibility as astrologers … It’s one of the few vocabularies that’s big enough to handle something like this.
And the way that the cultural conversation, the global conversation on this issue is taking place right now is so chaotic and fragmented and unhelpful, that I really think that astrology has a tremendous role here. We’ve got to get people to see it beyond ideology, beyond politics, and even beyond cause and effect in terms of why did the human species create this for ourselves.
TH: Definitely. I was just listening to share the presentation, ’cause we pre-recorded it for the event, and it definitely struck me how astrology can take us into a depth of conversation that’s not happening in the media and it’s not happening in a lot of areas that we might just get easy access to online. If you have time to tune in, definitely tune in. Astrology can really elevate this conversation in a beautiful way. So, thanks for preparing that material for us.
And speaking of webinars, you’re doing another one for us tomorrow on Pluto in Aquarius, and that ingress isn’t happening until 2023. And I was wondering, well, actually, not just me, but we got a question in through social media where somebody says, “That’s not happening right now, and there’s so much other stuff going on. Why are we talking about this now?” So why did you prepare this material so far in advance?
JM: Oh, I’m surprised to hear that there is that question, because Pluto ingresses are the big epoch-defining transits to me. They mark in the broader terms the kind of big picture scope and they delineate the era in a way that serves as a backdrop for the other transits that are more quickly moving.
And one of the things we sometimes miss here is that each transit flows into the next. There really isn’t a cut-off point, as we like to think. There aren’t separate categories, the way the human mind likes to separate things into clear-cut demarcations, but of course, nature doesn’t work that way. Everything in life slides from one phase to the next, which is why orb allowances are essentially arbitrary. There can’t be any real hard and fast rule to things like this, but that’s another conversation.
With Pluto, I think we see how this works in society, in the world and we’ll be talking about this, how Pluto’s years in Capricorn set the stage for its time in Aquarius. And especially when you’re talking about a big 15 to 20-year cycle like this, there’s a gray area where the tail end of the cycle, it’s starting to deteriorate, degenerate and crumble, and a lot of the fractiousness and extremism we’re seeing in these last fleeting, last gasp moments of Pluto and Capricorn are typical of waning cycles in general, and we need to watch that. We need to see what Pluto and Capricorn has given us and how it’s getting ready to be replaced by something new and fresh.
And I don’t think you can understand that unless you look at adjacent schedules or transits cycles. I think it’s easier to see it in a short cycle, like the lunar cycle. What we get out of the last quarter moon, how well we integrate the lessons of that whole lunar cycle lays the groundwork for the coming months. I think it’s easier to see in terms of a quick four-week cycle like that, but it’s true of all cycles, when they segue one into the other. And on the macro level, we have the age of Pisces segueing into the age of Aquarius.
And this is probably a several century-long gray area. It’s not a clear cut-off point at all. The world has spent a couple of thousand years working on some Piscean themes that are now in their death throes.
Anyway, I’m veering off of the point. So we’ve had 15 years of Pluto in Capricorn that have been about certain themes, and they have become very clear only now when they’re disintegrating. In the few years right before now, before 2023, I think we need to watch them like a hawk, and to organize our thinking around them, like the way that the different institutions of government and the trust in government and the old protocols and traditions of government, these are Capricorn things. And Pluto has just set them decaying, that is, Pluto didn’t do it, Pluto exposed that this was happening.
And what is going to emerge from that, the level of Pluto in Aquarius that’s going to emerge, the consciousness, the degree of sophistication with which we use Pluto in Aquarius is going to be a function of how well we’ve dealt with these last years of Pluto in Capricorn. It’s just like saying the way you integrate the last few days before the moon is new are gonna make all the difference in the world of how you handle the cycle to come when the moon becomes new. Does that make sense?
TH: Definitely. It just had me thinking about how the question itself kinda speaks to that, that way that we have of using astrology. Myself included, I’m guilty in this too, where we look at a cycle and we think what’s gonna happen, not like where are we in this moment in time and how do we see this cycle in the context, which is one of your true gifts for us, where you’re so great at putting these cycles into context.
And you’re saying it’s Pluto in Capricorn, but if we come to, or in this case, Pluto in Aquarius, if we come to that webinar, you’re not just gonna be talking about Pluto in Aquarius, you’re gonna be talking about how that relates to Pluto in Capricorn and probably other cycles too, ’cause you usually do that.
And that’s where the real brilliance comes through, and that’s why it does make sense that you’re doing it right now, it’s like, this is when you would want to do that webinar, right?
JM: This is when you wanna… It’s in that gray area in the transitional period where you get to understand that the reason, if you will, nature gave birth to Aquarius was in a way to make up for the excesses of Capricorn. Just like every planet in the solar system and the line up from the Sun can similarly be understood as having come around, having been invented, as it were, in order to make up for some lack that the system had before it was invented.
In other words, it really is, it strikes me, the more I work with astrology, that the more and more this is true, that everything is a flow on a continuum, and it’s only like an organizing device for our own convenience that we draw these clear-cut lines with a Sharpie to divide one phase of natural order from another.
But I also wanna say that there’s a fundamental premise here in astrology that I’m not sure everybody holds. I’m not sure all your students hold it, I’m not sure all astrologers hold it. And that is that there really is in the future nothing fixed. There aren’t ever really a series of events that are are written down somewhere in the sky waiting to happen, but that we do create it at every moment.
We create the future, it has been said, at every moment. And if you believe that, then it makes perfect sense that what one would do now to prepare for the next ingress, let’s say Mars going into Capricorn. Let’s say, people are freaked out, perhaps, by the superstitious lore of what they might have read about when Mars hits those Capricorn planets up in the sky.
You have to consider that it’s not like there is some cataclysm waiting to happen, that it’s fated up there, and it’s just a matter of time before we click, click, click, click, the clock ticks ahead to get there. It’s that our consciousness now is going to be what shapes what happens.
And I think really one either has a feel for that or one doesn’t, and it’s useful every now and again to check our fundamental premises and see if we really do believe that or not, because old-fashioned astrology, of course, was much more prediction-oriented, and would hold in forecasting that it was sort of already set, and all we had to do if we were sophisticated enough astrologers, was to decode that reality that was already set to happen.
But this idea that I’m describing is not that, and I think every once in a while, we should ask ourselves… I’m not really stumping for this one over the other, I’m just suggesting that we ask ourselves whether we believe that or not. Does this make sense?
TH: Definitely. Yeah, it’s a great question. It’s definitely always good to take good stock of where you’re coming from. We just had a course on Jupiter and Saturn, and was co-taught by some different astrologers, one of them Mark Jones, and he asked the students, what’s your belief system about what astrology can do?
And not only in that question did everybody kind of reflect their Jupiter placements, but it got people thinking about stuff that might have been running on auto-pilot that they hadn’t really taken stock of or, taken account of. So I think it’s a wonderful, wonderful question.
JM: Yeah, that’s the other question along these lines is the issue of unconditional cosmic appropriateness. If we really believe that, most of your students, I’m sure, and your clients, if you ask them, if you told them that there were no such thing as an accident they would probably not earnestly agree with you.
But when we pose that same idea against the context of catastrophes and tragedies and such things as climate change, then it really tests that belief, it tests that faith. And again, this isn’t me proselytizing, I’m not suggesting that I know, I’m just suggesting that we look at our underlying assumptions and ask ourselves occasionally whether this idea that, oh, everything happens for a reason is true only with things we like or whether it’s also true with such a thing as the human species committing ecocide.
TH: Well, speaking of that, before we wrap up today, I wanted to ask you what your specific hopes might be for the greater culture as we work through these last degrees of Pluto in Capricorn.
JM: Well, I would like to see those who are capable of it in the greater culture to get as dispassionate a view as possible, to look without kind of the partisan blinders on. And again, of course, I’m stumping for astrology here.
I think that astrology and its understanding of macrocycles and looking at the human race across millennias-worth and past extinction cycles that the planet has been through and just that huge, huge scope that astrology allows us makes it easier for us to get out of the culture wars and to consider what these past 15 years, let’s say, the Pluto cycle, have given us and what has been shown to be unviable.
These things in our culture that everybody’s lost faith in and the deep political cynicism we see going around, so much seems to be falling apart and in chaos, but we have to ask ourselves, what has that exposed about the essence, what it takes to make a society cohere, and that is really the essential meaning of Capricorn. Not the specific structures, but the idea that societies need to cohere, and it’s kind of like that idea in a very abstract way is one of the things that’s rising from the rubble.
And you cannot see that kind of a thing, you can’t glean that kind of a perspective by listening to the corporate news. Only something like astrology or some other kind of wisdom tradition would give you the scope to be able to look at the last 15 years with a question like that in mind.
TH: Definitely. Well, thanks for that, Jessica, and thanks for spending time with me today. That last note is a validation for astrology and what we can do with it. So I hope this has inspired some of the folks listening to think a little bit more deeply about what astrology can do beyond telling you if you should date an Aries or not.
JM: Yeah. Good luck with that.
TH: Right, good luck with that, exactly. So thanks so much for tuning in, everybody, to this episode and thank you, Jessica, so much for sharing your wisdom with us.
JM: You’re very welcome, Tony, thank you.
Want to hear more from Jessica Murray? Check out these past (and upcoming) talks below. Enjoy!
Mentioned in the episode: Pluto in Aquarius – the Crisis of Being Human
From the 2020 Epic Cycles Summit: Chaos Into Clarity: The Aquarius Threshold
And Jessica’s talk in the upcoming 4-webinar mini summit Astrology, the Earth, and You on February 1, 2020:
Back to the Garden – The Astrology of Climate Change