"So How Did You Get Interested In Astrology?"
It’s a question which I am often asked and I have to say that my first memories go back to my teenage years - although with no recollection of a definite starting point. There was a sort of general acceptance that astrology (albeit the columns in the newspapers were my sole knowledge at that time) was something which held a certain amount of truth and should not be discarded. I recall struggling to remember the signs of the zodiac in the Scorpio-Capricorn area.
The real journey began in 1986-87 when my professional life was centred around the finances of a steel tube business - not an obvious fit with astrology.
In the autumn of 1986 I was on a personal development course in Scotland where one of the other participants was Jacob Schwartz, an astrologer from Philadelphia - I was fascinated to have met a "real live astrologer." He, lovingly and patiently, answered the many novice questions that my natural curiosity prompted although we didn’t get round to a full chart reading. That was to follow, three months later, when he spent a night at my home in Birmingham, England.
We rose early, around 6 a.m., and he proceeded to dictate into his handheld tape recorder while I sat on the other side of the table, transfixed by the accuracy of his comments. Three hours later, I said that I really did have to get to work and Jacob himself was a little jaded so we quit, with my holding the treasured cassettes that contained information not only about myself but about many of the other members of my family.
Two particular nuggets which sold me on the validity of the art were his pinpointing, to the month, the time when my boss had been sacked and the time when I had had an operation - his diagnosis of the reason for the operation was absolutely accurate and he could have had no possible foreknowledge of these events from the conversations we had had up to the time of the reading.
I gradually digested the contents of the tape, unsure what to do next, as
Jacob Schwartz - the astrologer from Philadelphia whom I met in Scotland and who triggered my interest in astrology in 1986.
Jacob continued his travels.
Five months later I found myself in the presence of another "real live astrologer," the late Roger Elliott who was staying in the same hotel when I was on holiday in the Lake District in the north of England.
I was much too in awe of his public fame to venture a conversation about astrology, a decision I regretted subsequently as I read and enjoyed many of his accessible articles in the Journal of the Astrological Association. When I finally summoned up the courage to talk to him in 1993 I found, to my dismay, that he had died a month earlier. Moral; seize the day.
After listening to a third astrologer giving a talk in July 1987 I finally decided to buy my first astrology books. I ploughed my way through the exhaustive, but somewhat dry, prose of The Astrologer’s Companion by John Filbey, balancing it with the humour and anecdotes of Linda Goodman’s Sun Signs and Love Signs.
A couple of months later, while visiting a Book Fair at a local synagogue, I found a copy of Anatomy of Fate by Warren Kenton (Z’ev ben Shimon Halevi), a book whose existence seemed to disprove the idea that religion and astrology were mutually exclusive. It was to be four and a half years before I was ready to pursue this line of enquiry any further.
I drew charts and interpreted them for friends, enthused about astrology to whoever would listen (as well as to many who didn’t wish to listen, thus getting myself into a number of avoidable philosophical scrapes) and eventually started to get paid for these services as well as being asked to give talks at various public venues.
I had my chart read again, this time by Lyn Birkbeck who threw many fresh insights my way and was extraordinarily generous with his time to me.
I read Liz Greene and Howard Sasportas, I learned about psychology and the effects of the transpersonal planets; I checked out Gauqelin, and sat in the library playing with my computer in attempts to identify the next earthquake or air crash. But I still got frustrated at what I felt to be the lack of detail which I could elicit from a chart. Where were the books that would give me the sort of accuracy that Jacob had picked up in that first reading?
Meanwhile my business life continued in the fields of accountancy and financial services as well as ad hoc projects such as setting up and running two bookshops and a magazine.
Then, in 1992, came the first of two events which changed my astrological view of the world. In June of that year I attended a workshop in London on Kabbalistic Astrology held by Warren Kenton (Z’ev ben Shimon Halevi) whose book had sat patiently on my shelf, waiting to be read since 1987. This was my introduction to Kabbalah which is one expression of the perennial wisdom underpinning Judaism and Christianity and Halevi's synthesis of Kabbalah, Astrology and Psychology showed me how additional insights into an astrological chart could be gained above and beyond the more usual methods of interpretation.
The other significant event occurred in 1994. I had come across various articles on Horary Astrology and found it frustrating that, even though I had been studying astrology for five or six years, these articles seemed completely incomprehensible with words like “peregrine,” “cazimi” and “perfection” scattered through them that never seemed to feature in anything else I read.
Somehow (this is as vague as my memory of how I was first aware of
Warren Kenton (Z'ev ben Shimon Halevi. A gifted teacher of Kabbalah and of Astrology. The trademark denims and blue shirt were clothes which I also frequently wore and provided an immediate point of contact.
astrology) I found myself with a telephone in my hand and a lady by the name of Sue Ward on the other end of the line, to whose advert I was replying for something called the "Traditional Horary Course" which was part of the general revival of Traditional Astrology. There is a more detailed account of the circumstances leading up to this moment in Chapter 1 of Horary Astrology for Business. The vexed question of fate and freewill is dealt with later in the book and may find its way into a separate article on this web site since it such an important aspect of astrological philosophy.
I decided to take the course in Spring 1995, having completed the Intermediate level of the Faculty of Astrological Studies in the meantime, brightly thinking I would finish it in a year or so.
I finally got my diploma in July 1997 not, I think, because I was a particularly poor student, but because I had drastically underestimated the depth and breadth of the course.
It was a revelation. Based on the magnum opus of William Lilly, Christian Astrology (published in 1647), I found myself having to discard a number of crucial pieces of my astrological knowledge and gave up seeing clients for more than a year while I tried to unlearn much of what I had patiently learned over the previous eight years. The areas of controversy included the use of the outer planets (Uranus, Neptune and Pluto), the definition of "void of course," the average daily motion of Venus and Mercury and the definition of aspects - the list goes on.
My debt to Sue Ward is incalculable; she has performed an extraordinary service in bringing Lilly’s works to the public notice and, as a teacher, I found her always patient and generous while refusing to dilute her astrological integrity in the slightest degree. Her collected wisdom has now been distilled into Sue Ward’s Collected Essays.
No less a debt is due to Warren Kenton (Z’ev ben Shimon Halevi) for providing an overall framework which has helped place astrology in a proper context and much more - this web site would certainly never have been written without my having had the benefit of his teaching for nearly 30 years.
A further area of astrology which I encountered was Astro*Carto*Graphy - the technique developed by Jim Lewis for discovering the effect which different places in the world might produce for a person.
This led me to a series of long telephone conversations with Martin Davis who was always so good natured in explaining the finer points of both Astro*Carto*Graphy and its sister technique, Local Space, which had been developed by Michael Erlewine.
I have found that Astro*Carto*Graphy readings have often given some surprising answers but which have also been very accurate. Our strong and weak locations on earth are as unique as the composition of our psyche.
In 1998 my business interests broadened to include a spell as a café owner in Bozeman, Montana, USA, where the local residents were almost as interested in astrology as in my curious English accent.
An Astro*Carto*Graphy map for Pope Francis. Although he was born in Argentina, Mercury and Jupiter were powerfully placed over Rome at the moment of his birth suggesting a place where he might live and work.
Due to the complexities (some might say inconsistencies or absurdities) of the USA visa system I found myself returning to the UK a year later where I rejoined the financial services business in London and wrote Horary Astrology for Business.
I continued as a financial adviser until 2015 leading a management buyout of the company for which I worked and selling it successfully in 2014.
The ending of this phase of my life enabled me to devote more time to the study of astrology resulting in the publication of a number of in depth essays as well as pulling together much of the material which I had used in workshops into a coherent form. It took the pandemic in 2020 to pin me to the desk for long enough to make the website a reality
Meanwhile, I have been lucky enough to continue running various workshops on Astrology (and Kabbalah) as well as a regular astrology group. Since the pandemic these have been online as well as in a traditional physical setting.
It is the participants in these sessions who have done the most to increase my knowledge with their keen questions and their tolerance of my enthusiasm for some of the quirkier corners of the Art!
© Jonathon Clark 2022