This is the story of how I arrived at the point of writing a blog about the intersection of business and astrology.
I can credit my mother for my interest in astrology. An Irish Catholic, she still had deep in her Gaelic soul a love of all things magical. Under her tutelage, I grew up devoted to the magic in Catholicism: sacred ashes, snakes jumping into the sea, Saints miraculously bleeding on Good Friday, apparitions, guardian angels. She also taught me Irish lore like kissing the Blarney Stone, Leprechauns, shamrocks, fairies, and the validity of premonitions. And she followed Jeanne Dixon, the famous astrologer.
My father, on the other hand, a scientist and officer in the U.S. Army Chemical Corp (yes, that scary), could not abide these subjects. As a second generation Italian, his focus was economic stability. In high school, my mother helped me study and prepare for the Texas statewide competition in the knowledge of Greek Life and History, and when I returned home with the winning trophy, my father’s only comment was, “Useless knowledge.” I mean, Greek Life and History! OK, discounting that the Greeks formed the bedrock of Western thought, it still wasn’t social work or art, other subjects he detested and forbade me to study.
So I had one voice whispering the magical and mystical, and one insisting that knowledge had to be useful. A set up for the next 25 years!
My mother, aunts, and grandfather were all bookkeepers and accountants. In the summer after my first year of college, I substituted for my Aunt in her bookkeeping job for a men’s clothing store in Trenton, New Jersey. I must admit I didn’t do too well at that job, and I still cringe to think of the messes my aunt had to clean up after I left. But I had gained a skill that would continue to support me for many years.
It was a lucky thing, too, because at the end of that summer I met my future husband, Ted, announced to my parents I was leaving, and hitchhiked to Michigan to set up a life there. After a couple of years working in the Marketing and Finance Departments of the Aetna Insurance Company, Ted and I packed a duffle bag and our guitars and hitchhiked to San Francisco.
We lived in the Haight District in a flat with 9 other people, spending our days in Golden Gate Park or playing music for tips at Fisherman’s Wharf. We went to rock concerts, seeing all the greats, and to the Zen Center a block from our flat, where I began to meditate. Our one year there turned into quite an education, encountering so many alternative ways of being, thinking, eating, and making a couple of dollars last!
In my early twenties I began studying astrology seriously. I read all of the writers of the time, went to workshops, and bought my first ephemeris in a Princeton bookshop. My mother provided me with the times of birth of all my brothers and sisters, which were many (remember, Irish/Italian Catholic), and I began interpreting their charts as well as those of friends. By this time I was living in Taos, New Mexico (yes, heaven on earth) where I would live and work for the next twenty years.
I wrote a weekly column for the Taos News, wrote for various newsletters, published my own newsletter, Rhythms, taught classes, and read people’s charts, all the while running a small bookkeeping business on the side. I was also raising my son Erin and when the financial demands of single motherhood (Note to readers: 18 is too young to get married) became more than my astrology work could support, I began a full-time bookkeeping business.
In 1985 I met my Guru, Gurumayi Chidvilasananda, and over time my one dream became to serve her in her ashram in upstate New York. I knew that to raise Erin, put him through college, and serve a living master instead of working would take a lot of money, so I began an eight year process of educating myself while working full-time. First I gained the Certified Financial Planner credentials, then finished my degree in Business Administration, then studied for and passed the Certified Public Accountant examination and became a CPA.
As I gained knowledge in these areas, the bookkeeping work morphed into really interesting and engaging business and tax work. Computers had come on the scene, freeing us from endless columns of calculation and opening time for the really interesting strategic part of business. I found I loved to work with my clients, delve into their business issues, and bring my knowledge to bear on their situations. Business, economics, and commerce truly fascinated me and with each new client I learned more and more about business life. And, of course, I was running my own business, Taos Financial Strategies, which provided financial planning, taxes, accounting, property management and artist business management to many clients. As a business owner I dealt with the issues every business person does: hiring, training, profitability, sales, marketing, negotiating and all the rest. I even ran for elected office at the Taos County Chamber of Commerce and served as their Treasurer for three years.
Immersing myself so deeply in my studies, my work, childrearing, and my meditation practices left little time for astrology. I always followed it for myself and my family, but I no longer practiced it professionally. When I had an issue I wanted to discuss, I consulted with other astrologers. Taos is fortunate to have many great astrologers, including Joseph Rynear, Lucy McCall, and Kat Duff. I recognized the value of an astrological reading from the client point of view as it was always incredibly affirming to discuss timing and trends with an expert.
There was even a period when I stopped practicing astrology. Deeply involved in learning about my spiritual path, it seemed to me that people were focusing on the wrong point in their interest in astrology, focusing on the outer happenings of their life rather than the inner truth. This was when I gave away most of my astrology books, books I fervently miss now that I understand that the outer life is a divine reflection of the inner truth, to be honored and respected rather than shunned and ignored.
A little aside for some grief: Oh, I miss my library. I kept a few, and have added a few, but time and again I wish for all those books!
I’ve got to say my life was wonderful during those years. I was raising not one but two teenagers including a friend of my son’s, I had a loving partner, a committed spiritual practice, and a lucrative engaging business. But I never lost the yearning to serve my Guru at her ashram. In early 1998, directly after writing the last check for my son’s college tuition, I sold my practice and moved with my partner east to New York. My dream had come true: I was to serve in the Finance Department at Gurumayi’s ashram.
My plan had been to work tax season as a CPA and earn enough money to serve at the ashram fulltime during the rest of the year. What I didn’t know was that my business skills were enthusiastically welcomed at the ashram and within a couple of years I was leading Finance, Legal, Marketing, Products, HR and more for an international organization with operations in 33 countries.
When I moved to New York I met wonderful, deeply reflective astrologers and I began having astrology conversations again! Something awakened, my old love was waiting for me. I came to see how deeply astrology was embedded into many ancient cultures and how planetary cycles are a part of everyday life to this day. I began to write a primer in astrology, the book I wish I had had when I was just beginning my studies. I came to understand how natural astrology is, that the knowledge is deep in our bones because we have lived these cycles over and over, and that the true knowledge of astrology could emerge from within us given the right tools. I wrote my book in a daily format, with a short text each day and then an exercise of some kind, an experience or contemplation that would pull out what the student already knew deep within.
My years at the Ashram were everything I hoped they would be and more. Finding the Siddha Yoga path in 1985 was hugely transformative and then being at the ashram was like being on a skyrocket to joy. Not that every minute was delirious; I had some pretty heavy baggage I had been carrying, like we all do. But all the support and tools were there to let go of these things I didn’t want any more. “Getting rid of what you haven’t got,” according to my Guru’s words. And there are no words for the privilege of being in the presence of a fully enlightened being. The deeper I came to know myself, the more clearly I could see who she was. And the more clearly I saw her, the more clearly I understood who and what we all are. It was magnificent, and I literally danced for joy many times.
As my awareness expanded and deepened, so did my creativity. In addition to my writing (and singing and learning piano) I began experimenting with different ways to present astrology charts to clients, collecting images that would elicit a more intuitive experience than a flat two-dimensional chart of symbols could. The fire of this love kept burning!
After ten years at the Ashram, ten years that could not be replaced by lifetimes elsewhere, I realized it was time to pursue another kind of life. My partner’s job had relocated her to southern Georgia which was just too far from New York. I packed up my house, loaded my two cats and dog into the Audi, and we all headed to coastal Georgia.
I picked up some business clients and thought about taking an accounting job. I picked up some astrology clients and wondered if I could develop a consulting practice. Back and forth I went. Astrology or business, astrology or business? One morning, in that fissure between sleep and wake I realized what I was meant to do. I love business. I love astrology. Why choose between them? I am a businesswoman who loves and uses astrology. I am an astrologer who loves and understands business. The two disciplines come together in me; why shouldn’t they come together in my work?
I still have business clients and I still have astrology clients. But more and more I am melding the two. And to my surprise, there is not a lot of information on the intersection of the two. There is financial astrology, and economic astrology, but not really anything I can find on the application of astrology to the business owner and to business itself. So I’m researching, interviewing, blogging, and keeping my attention tuned to the heavens and the earth.
I really enjoy business and commerce. I have always been fascinated by the exchange of a person’s energy, their work, for compensation which in turns purchases goods which are the result of someone else’s energy. And around and around it goes. I enjoy how each person’s contribution fuels a system that adds up to a massive, global interchange. With all its deprivations for some and excesses for others, I have also seen marked kindness from employers, fairness in business negotiations, and creativity, enthusiasm, and awesome problem solving spring from the arena of business affairs.
I have seen magic in my own business dealings. I’ve learned that if money is short, I should give my employees raises. It has never failed to turn my business around! I have seen how time is elastic and doesn’t flow in the structured way we expect it to. Some days it passes incredibly quickly; other days it stretches out and gives me enough hours to complete a project. I have tuned into the synchronicity of learning and then teaching. Time and again a new client will bring up a topic I have just stumbled across the day before and can now address with confidence. Or when several clients in a row are all wrestling with the same issue and as I research for one I can share the knowledge with others.
And I love astrology. A deeply complex art, it is filled with symbols, astronomy, mythology, psychology, theology, and heartfelt human interaction. Brilliant minds contribute to its knowledge base daily, and because it is based on cycles of change, it is always new and revealing. I feel linked to the ancients of all cultures who interpreted the stars and I often imagine myself in a medieval parapet, peering out at the night to read the portents. And I love how it can be applied to myriad situations to bring ease and a sense of the flow of life.
My vision and hope is that all the business people in the world can receive support from astrology; that aligning with the natural cycles of the universe can bring them comfort and success; that communing with these cycles will transform their business experience into a divine, mystical experience. I believe that everything we do is an expression of divinity, of God expressing itself freely through us, and that our commercial endeavors are just as sacred as anything else we do.
In my own life, the businesswoman and the astrologer have become united in my work. The mystical and magical has become useful and practical. And in case you’re wondering, my personality as shown in my astrology chart is perfectly suited to melding the two. For my readers who are astrologers, a picture is worth a thousand words: