This is my chart. I have never outed myself in public as an astrologer even though I’ve been one and worked professionally at it for nearly forty years. You’d think I would’ve come to terms with this by now, but I’ve spent a lifetime hiding or not knowing myself or who I really am, and that same lifetime hiding from others and the public essential aspects of myself. Part of it was because I wanted to be accepted as a bona fide artist without all the rigamarole and judgment that goes along with people who would tag you as “new age” or some kind of spiritual loony. I felt my job was to create art, not be leading people down my own private rabbit hole. I still feel that way, but I was also recently stunned when a young author just published a book using astrology as an essential device and it is clear that her book, which just won the Man Booker award, is the result of a writer who is also a serious astrology practitioner and not just a neophyte using the device as a gimmick. That was a wake up call for me. What am I doing hiding in plain sight, hiding something that has been an essential part of my life experience for more than half my life? She’s only twenty-eight and she has the guts to go out there with this, why can’t I at sixty-four? I really wondered about this since I saw her interview on PBS–a young girl with great writing talent and tremendous courage. What happened to mine?
I’ve spent years feeling somewhat embarrassed and ashamed of my work in astrology and related sciences. People have laughed at and trivialized astrology for most of the 20th and 21st centuries–it has taken its place as a stupid “sun sign” prediction paragraph in news papers, blogs and websites. Sun sign astrology used for prediction is tantamount to going to the doctor and having him or her diagnose you without touching you, using instruments and conducting any lab tests. The doctor just looks at you and says, “Hey, from looking at you I’m pretty sure you’ve got Diabetes.” Would you believe it? No blood tests, no urine samples, no stethoscope, nothing! That’s sun sign astrology–it might as well be nothing at all. It is the stupidest, worst way to introduce astrology to the masses that I can think of. Eleanor Catton, in her PBS interview, likened astrology to music and her choice of analogy touched my deeply because I am a musician and I have studied and loved multiple genres of music all my life. I spent my childhood studying classical music and jazz and participating in choirs at Interlochen Arts Academy and in my public school. I’ve seen many, many performances of orchestral performances, musicals, opera, quartets etc. live and I dwell inside the beauty of Beethoven, Mahler, Mozart–all the greats. I belong to the Berlin Digital Concert Hall and recently watched an incredible video of Lang Lang and Simon Rattle rehearse and record Prokfiev’s Third Piano Concerto with the Berlin Philharmonic. Good lord–maybe next lifetime I told myself as I watched and cried through this vicarious experience. Lang Lang is nothing short of miraculous. And Simon Rattle along with Gustavo Dudamel are the fantasy loves of my life!
My understanding of the intricacies of Astrology are more than my understanding of the intricacies of music, but nevertheless, I really leaped in joy when I heard Ms. Catton make this claim. Her book The Luminaries, is an astrological dance! As she describes it, the astrology determines the length of chapters and the way the story unfolds.
“Astrology is a mathematical system….that has a lot in common with music.” Inter-relations and harmonies in the sky parallel harmonies and twelve tones in music. So Elizabeth, thank you for having the courage to challenge me to out myself and take up the further challenge of trying to utilize my knowledge of astrology in my future work. I confess, I am jealous. I am at the end of my life, and I am pretty sure that I do not have the skill or confidence that Ms. Catton has, and I am also pretty sure that I am not the writer she is. There are old souls in young bodies. There always have been, of course, but these days it appears many, many old souls are coming out with extraordinary work at younger and younger ages. Ms. Catton is certainly one of them. I’ve got dibs on her book at the local bookstore and of course I intend to read it thoroughly. I want to see how she weaves astrology into her intricate story and what she has to say about it. The fact that she’s managed to break through to the mainstream is absolutely daring and heartening. I wish I had had that kind of intelligence and writing skill at a younger age and if not that, then at least the courage to include astrology in my work later on! I simply couldn’t bring myself to do it. I was so afraid I would be laughed at and ridiculed for it. The fact that she has managed to do this is both admirable and maddening to me at once! I will have to accept it. I’ve already written about timing and I feel, perhaps, that in this life it is just not my time to communicate as a writer to a larger public audience.
Concerning this timing factor, I will talk about my chart and what it indicates in a future post. But for now, I’ve got to share what I actually think about the process of creating this site and then posting all my writing on it. I’ve gone over and over the site multiple times daily since creating it, both looking at the visual aspects of it, fine tuning and correcting content; re-reading content. Some days I love my work and think it’s good and cannot understand why I haven’t reached a wider audience or been able to interest a publisher. Other days I read and think it’s awkward, stupid, amateurish and terrible. It needs the gloss of a professional editor. It’s edgy and scary and nasty and negative at times. It’s not uplifting. It’s unsophisticated, or as someone in my graduate program said “unschooled and lacking in artifice.” Perhaps I will have to accept that I am like that awful character Robert De Niro played in a recent film, Being Flynn, a blowhard who brags he’s the world’s greatest writer and has this fabulous novel manuscript he keeps in the stove. His son, who becomes a great writer, finds the manuscript, reads it and realizes his father was a terrible writer and would never amount to anything other than being a homeless drunk. While the film is good and De Niro is fascinating to watch as always, the book it is based on by Nick Flynn, Another Bullshit Night in Suck City, is beautiful, touching and so much better. I began to think in the past day or so that just because I write every day and just because I did an MFA and just because I take my work “seriously” and have produced a lot of it, doesn’t necessarily mean I’m any good at it.
I am beginning to think I am not any good at it. But I keep trying because that’s what I do.