One of the shops deep inside New York’s Grand Central Station was the scene of my first encounter with astrology. I had some time to while away between trains, on the way to my parents’ place upstate.
A year or so out of college — with a single incomplete course (statistics!) preventing my graduation in geography — I was drifting, wondering what to do with my life. I was looking for answers, or at least suggestions of potential paths. The I Ching had already been a guide.
When my eyes fell on the yellow paperback, Write Your Own Horoscope, by Joseph Goodavage, a substantial portion of my course was set. There was rather little astrological literature visible to the general public back in the day, so I snapped up or borrowed whatever appeared. For awhile, the main satisfaction for my appetite was Noel Tyl’s series, The Principles and Practice of Astrology.
When the short-lived Alternatives newspaper was starting up in the Twin Cities (Minneapolis – St. Paul), I was asked to write an article: something about mundane astrology. Another, on missing Swedish diplomat Raoul Wallenberg, followed in a 1982 issue of American Astrology.
An intriguing astrology publication, Welcome to Planet Earth, popped into view a year later. My first article there — about Wendell Berry’s writing (The Unsettling of America) and birth chart in relation to the United States’ Declaration of Independence chart — was published in 1984. I became a regular contributor until 1988, when a personal Pluto transit signaled a nearly-complete hiatus from involvement in astrology for several years.
There was a great deal of deep emotional work for me to do, and a need for connecting with other men in meaningful ways. Symbolically, secondary-progressed Mars was crossing my natal ascendant as I came to this realization, and appropriately, I acted upon my gut instinct and undertook the New Warrior Training Adventure (created and still offered through the ManKind Project). The NWTA and subsequent “integration groups” had some inspirational background in the work of such cultural figures as Robert Bly and James Hillman.
My life was greatly changed, for the better. Delving intensively into my pain and the dysfunctions of my upbringing brought me back to my great love for astrology — tentatively, at first. For a while yet, my only significant involvement was in correctly anticipating the date of my daughter’s birth. (When, several years later, a friend and fellow astrologer asked me to do so for his child, I could not sort it out.)
When websites began proliferating in the mid-1990s, I soon felt the pull again, and began self-publishing my findings. My site “Alignments Online: illuminating the role of the cosmic clock in world affairs” went public on 20 June 1997. By the time I was ready to move on in 2001, I’d covered a great many stories from around the world, from prominent to obscure, from the first visit by a South Korean president to North Korea and the Great Conjunction of 2000 to the “weeping widow” president of Sri Lanka. I took pride in calling attention, in 2000 — more than a decade before the infamous Citizens United ruling of the U.S. Supreme Court — to a crucial precedent: the “corporation is a person” ruling of 1886. The most extensive research went into a study of many key developments and personages in the history of slavery in America, emphasizing that the “peculiar institution” spanned one cycle of the planet Pluto from Taurus to Taurus—zoidion (sign) of movable property.
2001 also saw the first steps into writing, editing and publishing projects outside the subject area of astrology. I joined forces with an older man and two women in a small business called LifePath Books. The timing — terrorism and the start of a new round of war — was not great, and the stream of projects fizzled out after a couple of years.
I fell back on a regular full-time job to pay the bills, especially to keep health-care coverage on my young daughter. In addition, I was settling into a new house and tuning into a new yard environment in an unfamiliar part of town. When the economic crash of 2008-09 came along, I found myself out of a job and looking for a new avenue of work. A one-week course at a technical college on home energy auditing came to my attention, and I pursued that; I found it a strange and demanding experience, concluding with a certification test, which I passed. But finding work in the field was fruitless.
Odd jobs as handyman and painter kept me going while I immersed myself in a new paradigm: the Transition Town model that came out of local projects in the United Kingdom. My first re-awakening in that regard came from reading James Howard Kunstler’s book The Long Emergency when it was published in 2005, having already read his work about American suburbia. By 2009-10, I had taken it and the work of other observers to heart to the degree that I took workshops about permaculture, and was in the process of helping restore my yard to a state of soil health, vibrant habitat and a source of healthful food. Like a great many Americans, I was preserving food and making medicine at home.
As a committed gardener, weather was a constant companion. When I read in the spring of 2012 that astrological publisher David Roell was re-issuing George J. McCormack’s Text-Book of Long-Range Weather Forecasting — originally published in one-hundred hand-typed copies in 1947 — I ordered a copy and dove into the study of astro-meteorology.
Which led me to starting a new blog dedicated to “reports and musings on weather, climate and the long emergency.” Which led, after five years, to creating a self-published book, Scenes from a Tapestry. And now this site.
In the midst of weather study, I was also delving into the techniques of Hellenistic astrology. I had picked up a fresh copy of Robert Hand’s Night & Day: Planetary Sect in Astrology at the United Astrology Conference in 1995, and it shook my understanding of astrology in a compelling way. Even so, it was not until well into the new millennium that I began picking up heftier texts and availed myself of Hellenistic presentations and workshops. They have greatly enriched my comprehension of personal astrology and the character of my consulting practice.
Through it all, I have been a watcher of the sky by day and night: weather phenomena and the appearance of Sol, Luna and planets. I find it quite appropriate that the idea for my own book came from the most awe-inspiring experience of all: the Great American Eclipse of 2017.
[All writings on ZodiacalSpiral.com are copyright by Peter Doughty.
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