On Becoming an Astrologer~My Story
I can still feel my hand trembling as I opened the latch to the basement chapel door. There was a faint light in the room, a musty smell, and a few people sitting in the pews. I slipped into a middle pew where a few other long-haired women sat, and looked up. There she was…golden and glowing; a radiant Leo. Mary had insisted I go hear this woman, Isabel Hickey, because she was “a real wise woman.” I can’t remember where Mary was that night, but it seemed right that this should be a solitary experience.
It was 1968 and I had just turned 2I. This was my last year at Boston University and at the very least I could chalk this one up as an “experience”. Little did I know that this was the beginning of the adventure of my life: astrology. After Isabel, I would follow a trail of wise teachers throughout my life because these were the ones who spoke to my Soul. I don’t remember exactly what she said that night, but Isabel was not one to mince words; we were responsible for our lives and we mattered. We were One Soul with many lives, and what we did in this life had repercussions both now and later. I can’t say that I became more comfortable the more I listened; I didn’t. But I came back week after week because it seemed as if Truth was being spoken.
Isabel Hickey and those that followed her were a true gift from the universe, because I saw myself as always having to work hard for everything I received. I must have had difficult karma by the look of my work life and love life: half a dozen waitressing jobs by that time, and I’d still have another half dozen to go…and my heart had just been broken yet again.
But it was Mary who had heard about an astrologer who was speaking every Friday night in a basement chapel on campus and told me to go. Isabel Hickey, would be speaking in an underground chapel, known as Marsh Chapel, where recently there had been a double-blind study done on 20 theological students who were given LSD or placebos to see if the drug could produce a mystical experience. The results were largely positive in that 9 out of the 10 who were given the drug confirmed they had a “mystical experience”. This was an exciting as it was unnerving, but of course, no psychedelics were given out this evening. Just words, wise words, and lots of them.
The history and atmosphere of the chapel might have had something to do with it, as I was soon to find that I loved sitting in that dimly lit space staring at the stained glass window behind one extraordinary woman.
I was intrigued with it all. I was hungry for a spirituality of some sort, as both my Catholicism and Existential viewpoints weren’t holding me up anymore. It was 1968: I was soon to graduate college and my consciousness had been expanded in the typical way of those times, through the smokey marijuana rooms of music. It was all very Neptunian I was to learn, as my Sun conjuncted Neptune as well. What could contain what I needed? I had no idea…but being in an experimental mode I was ripe for the experience. Although I didn’t know it at the time, I was ready for a change with my transiting North Node on my Ascendant and Neptune conjuncting my South Node. In retrospect, it seems as if an inner part of me (the North Node) drew me to this place and person, while the old self was both confused and needing inspiration (Neptune on my South Node).
So that was it: week after week I would go to hear the formidable Leo herself, Isabel Hickey, standing on the altar speaking “words of wisdom.” I don’t remember exactly what she said, but I was too intimidated by this formidable woman to ever approach her for a personal reading.
In later years I heard that the now famous astrologer and Jungian analyst, Liz Greene, had also met “Izzy” about that same time and did ask for a reading with her that didn’t go so well. The story goes that for some reason, they reacted like oil and water to each other, and Izzy refused to give Liz a proper astrology reading. This apparently intrigued or angered Liz Greene so much that she began her lifelong successful journey with astrology right then and there. She was going to do it herself, and so she did! And so did I, but in a more round-about way.
Isabel Hickey, author of “A Cosmic Science” was one of the pioneers in astrology, who was known for her no nonsense approach and rather harsh views of karmic reality. Or so it appeared. I was mesmerized by her words because for the first time I felt I was hearing a cosmology that made sense and one in which I mattered. It was based in Hindu theology, and the words of the Theosophist, Dane Rudhyar who had taken astrology out of the world of fortune telling and into the respectable worlds of the upper-class American and British philosophers.
Looking at her book now I see the kinds of things she would say: “It is as if we have a built-in bookkeeping system. We have debits, and we have credits. Some of us come into this life with a great deal of capital in our spiritual bank books. This is earned income from a past life…”
Really? I had never considered reincarnation before or the effects of my current actions on my future lives. As she would say: “Your subconscious self has hidden in it the sum total of all your experiences to date. You will find as you study that you will be developing your intuitional facilities for you are dealing with powerful energies that will aid in your spiritual on-going. Remember: any knowledge gained through outer study takes you as far as your conscious mind. (But) there is a Super-conscious Mind beyond that area, where you can gain direct knowledge from the source of your Being. Astrology is one of the means of knowing that SELF.”I was hooked. She was my first wise woman mentor, and it would be many years before I met and studied with my “second wise woman” Alice Howell.
(To be continued in Part Two) Excerpted from the new book in paperback and Kindle: "Lifting the Veil; Becoming Your Own Best Astrologer" on amazon.com)