I have a dodgy relationship with astrology. I was introduced to metaphysics via backwater superstition. My parents believed that one of their son’s eyes wandered because he had been “imprinted” in my mother’s womb when she was startled in a stairwell by their cross-eyed landlord early in her pregnancy.
Astrology was fortunetelling, designed primarily to divine the date and method of one’s tragic early death. We feared the future. We feared change. “Ignorance,” my
mother would fondly say, “is Bliss.”
I wisely left that home at 15, but my metaphysical wariness clung to me like the spray of a skunk. Yet, each month I open my copy of Little Village from the back page, where Dr. Star lives. His work has served me well for years.
I’d considered that Dr. Star was a syndicated entity, like Mr. Food on the noon news, with a regional–if not national–market, designed to appear locally-produced, whether in California, Maine or Iowa.
But Dr. Star is no Mr. Food. He’s our neighbor, having moved to Iowa City in 1982. He holds a degree in Religious Studies and a doctorate in History. His work is elegant: no mugging for a camera. His intentions, I can assure you, are not to gain money and fame. His work is a practical manifestation of altruism, infused with kindness.
Dr. Star has kind eyes.
“You know,” he says, “this might seem corny, but doing the Dr. Star column every month is a labor of love for me.”
I felt honored and skittish when Dr. Star agreed to answer a few of my questions for Little Village.
Little Village: Tell me, Dr. Star, about the process of your work.
Dr. Star: I come at it from a practical angle. I just do it.
I use several different kinds of astrological techniques to come up with my forecasts and I vary my methods from time to time to keep my approach fresh. I also push my own limits so that each week I try to be just a little bit more specific, a little more detailed, a little more on target. I don’t do this by rote.
I also try to do some reality checking. I know a number of people belonging to each Sun sign and before I finalize my forecasts, I do a mental check against the life of someone from that Sun sign to make sure it makes sense. I try to keep it upbeat, but I also like to keep it real.
One caveat. This is the Midwest and I learned a long time ago that Midwesterners are partial to facts and logical arguments and reality-based stuff generally, so I try to respect that. I’ve also lived in Iowa long enough to have come to share that preference.
Those intuitive, touchy-feely sorts of sources are all over the map and when you depend on them, things can quickly get out of hand. Astrology provides a stable, holistic frame of reference and helps keep things in perspective. I depend on it because of that. It allows me to use my intuition and draw on my more visionary side, but it puts information from these sources into perspective and keeps the inquiry on track.
Astrology is a framework of symbols, really, and those symbols can accommodate input from any field of study or life experience out there, from economics to psychology and medicine.
It is a delicate and carefully maintained inner dialogue between empirical observation, reasoned thought, astrological methodology and intuitive, visionary sources.
That’s one of the virtues of astrology. It supports the simultaneous, interactive, intersecting use of all the faculties available to us, ranging from the most mundane through the highest intuitive and visionary.
So while you’re staring at an astrology chart, your brain is furiously sorting through all its real-world knowledge, its astrological knowledge, your feelings, a blizzard of intuitive inputs and the occasional visionary overlay. And then you are trying to do justice to this little mindstorm in a ninety-word forecast, all the while keeping it interesting and intelligible to the average reader.
Cognitively, it is a real workout.
LV: Dr. Star, what do you think about the proposal to reconfigure the astrological
calendar from a twelve-month to a thirteen-month construct? Will you alter your charts?
DS: The astrological system used in the West today, tropical astrology, is an extraordinarily complex and sophisticated artificial construct that has evolved over time, incorporating new discoveries as they came along. The tropical system has a highly conditional relationship to the astronomical facts, and for reasons you would probably find compelling if you were presented with them.
When they talk about coming up with a new system of astrology, it’s like saying, Oh, gee, by the way, I have nothing to do today, why don’t I just rethink Newtonian physics; maybe I could derive an alternative version of quantum physics. Are you free tomorrow? How about reworking the principles of mathematics? Give me a break.
The key fact is this: Your Sun sign is not based directly on the real position of the Sun at the time of your birth. Your Sun sign depends on where your Sun shows up in the system of astrology you are using.
As long as you are using tropical astrology, you are still an Aries or a Pisces, etc.
So people can relax on that score.
LV: What is your forecast for Iowa, Dr. Star?
DS: Iowa (a Capricorn state) is in the midst of a potent and enduring transformation. In the next decade, Iowa will re-invent itself completely. It will also take an increasingly prominent role in national events. Former governor Tom Vilsack’s move to the DC stage as agricultural Secretary is not a flash in the pan; it’s a sign of things to come. Have to say, though, the kind of transformation we’re talking about can be kind of rough in places.
Iowa City is also embarking on a major new cycle of growth and expansion. [It’s] beginning to shake off a kind of self-absorptive trance that has enveloped it for the last decade or so. You will soon see Iowa City come to life and confront the future with a vigor that will stun naysayers.
The UI (a Pisces) is presently experiencing a surge of creative forces comparable to those that brought it into being in 1847. The UI is just beginning a transformation that will take it to the next level as a university, the next level and beyond. The UI will surprise even its most ardent supporters.
Sorry to disappoint the pessimists.
LV: Gentle Dr. Star, with great trepidation I ask you to address the Big Mayan
Elephant in my metaphysical living room: 2012.
DS: Well, you know, I pooh-poohed that issue for many years. Then one day, I sat down and cast a chart for it. The popularly given date for the end of the Mayan Calendar is, actually, one of the most astonishing charts I have ever seen. I do think that the date marks a big historical turning point. I think the problem is that the run up and the aftermath will be so thick with events that the day itself will probably get lost in the great wash of events.
You see what is happening in the world today; it’s like that phrase from Alice in Wonderland, everyday, it’s six more impossible things before breakfast. My belief is that the intensity and the pace of changeful events will increase continuously until December 21, 2012.
But be advised, historical change of the magnitude we are talking about, even good historical change, can be a very messy business.
However, I don’t see 2012 in an “end times” context, at all. To me, it looks like an absolutely huge and irreversible, historically transformative turning point. It will probably only be in retrospect that historians could look back and say that that date was the peak day.
So, to be painfully and maybe embarrassingly honest, I am expecting the world to change forever and for the better in 2012 and in the years afterward. To my eye, the astrological chart for that date is unequivocal on that point and I have been doing astrology too long not to take that very seriously.
LV: Tell me, Dr. Star, what else you have to say.
DS: I consider it a great privilege to be able to put my thoughts out there for everyone every month.
And that’s the simple truth of the matter.