“When once you grasp that astrology is in the earth and of the earth and covers the entire earth and everything in it, when you take an abstract astrology out of the sky and put it on the earth and in the ground and make it tangible and real, you will be astounded at the sheer scope and scale and power of it. We have hardly uncovered a tenth of it. As vast and complex as astrology is, it amazes me we have learned as much as we have. Astrology is reality itself.” — David Roell, (1952-2014)
“I’m picturing carloads of naked dancing girls, every Monday around 10 a.m.. My reward for getting the newsletter out. My mind, as you can see, races sideways.” David emailed this to me one morning, shortly after meeting his Monday morning deadline.
And I responded: “Yep — the Roell mind running sideways, zig-zag, up, down, and occasionally into the velocity of your leg that’s about to kick a hornet’s nest.”
But forget the naked dancing girls and consider the quote that opens this tribute for my Mercurial-minded friend and fellow astrologer David Roell who died — too young, at 62 — a year ago on July 27 — at his home in Maryland.
I want to highlight his achievements up front, to pique your interest and the desire to explore more of David’s kaleidoscopic command of astrology. George Harrison once remarked: “The Beatles saved the world from boredom.” And David did exactly the same for astrology.
Roell’s earth-based theory of the zodiac, of which he refers in the opening epigram, is the cornerstone of his astrological legacy. His grand idea is carefully articulated in the forward to his reprint of George McCormack’s classic Long Range Weather Forecasting. It’s also available online, in his article The Right Theory of Astrology, featured in his newsletter — the same newsletter that was emailed weekly, to thousands of eager subscribers.
The Earth’s Aura
As students of astrology we’re each taught that the Tropical zodiac is constructed of mathematical divisions of the ecliptic, and thus not really ‘real’. David’s assertion returned the zodiac to terra firma — from which all of the zodiac’s descriptive elements — air, fire, water, and earth are derived — a reattribution that solves many of astrology’s niggling mysteries.
“The theory that emerges is that planets interact with each other,” David wrote, “and that the net result of such interaction upon the Earth are the twelve signs of the zodiac, which do not fall from the sky, but radiate from the Earth itself. The signs of the zodiac represent the vibrations of the Earth.”
Like many of David’s theories, some outlandish or hyper-seminal, the earth-based zodiac impugned tradition. I pointed out once that Alan Leo and Dane Rudyhar proposed a similar concept: Both astrologers saw the zodiac as something akin to the Earth’s aura, in which the Earth floated, like a gyroscope. David was intrigued:
“Yes, that comes close,” he said, “but it’s slightly off and lacking.”
His theory, as you’ll read, was literal. He surmised that all planetary bodies contained hexahedrite at their center, a six-sided crystalline form of iron, which radiated the zodiacal field outwards. He highlights this crystal component in detail in one of his final newsletters.
Child of Mercury
With his chart ruler, Mercury, in the 9th House (conjunct the Sun and sextile Jupiter), David was, as classic markers go, an astrologer’s astrologer. (It is the planet Mercury — not Uranus — that is associated with astrologers). Publishing and broadcasting were David’s mission. And so he wrote astrology books, revived astrology books, published astrology books and touted astrology books. He was also a wily gadfly (appropriate his Gemini ascendant) with the precocious, uncensored candor of a child.
When I once, in jest, wrote to him that Oprah Winfrey had contacted me after reading our interview (published here, a few years back) he took my ‘news’ to heart and mentioned “her interest” to his newsletter audience. Later, post my clarification, he exploded, explaining that he once again needed to berate himself for taking people at their word.
I offered my Venus in Gemini as evidence of my writing style. To which he redressed me again; and the fallout stuck. David explained how too much (or poorly delivered) humor interrupted the receptivity of the reader and made the writer appear either vague or insecure. Instinctively I knew he was correct and adjusted my writing style from that day forward.
The Roell Way
As a writer, David had a clear, congenial voice; but it was never empty of insights that could excite curiosity — or animus, whenever he’d breach politically correct protocol. Often with David, within a single article (or conversation), I’d move from admiration to anger — in a heartbeat. He explained to me once the rationale for his particular style:
“I am stream-of-consciousness, have been since the age of 16 or so. I do not know any other way to be, which means I have no memory unless contextual. I regret that, failing to find peers, I have become more interested in me than I am in anyone or anything, which means the people who appear in my life are by default more interested in me than I am in them.”
He applied this same skill to reading horoscopes:
“Always, always, go with your hunches,” he advised. “If you stop to think about it, your brain will get in the way and kill it. Because that’s what brains do. Kill things.”
“Imagine if your hunch was right. What would that mean? In other words, what’s the next hunch? And the one after that? Spin out a story, make up a fantasy, see where it goes. And when you’ve done that, then stand back and take a look at the chart as a whole. Does it make sense? Does it tell you new and surprising things? Could it (gasp!) be right?”
His was the speed reading school of chart interpretation:
“Try to delineate a chart in five minutes. In sixty seconds. Speed will make your mind work. You will be right more often than you think, but even if you’re not, you can always, as they say, sin in haste and repent at leisure”
David’s manner of reading a horoscope was reckless and completely opposite my present approach to astrology. But still, I eagerly awaited his Monday morning newsletters. I delighted in David’s manner of remaking a chart to fit what he considered the truth — versus the consensus perception of a public figure.
An example: When whistleblower Edward Snowden‘s birth time (which produced a Gemini ascendant) had been officially confirmed, David disregarded the Double-A data — declared it doctored — and demonstrated, step-by-step, why a Cancer ascendant was the correct fit for Snowden.
Because David read charts in a traditional manner, similar to my teacher Ivy Goldstein-Jacobson, it must have been nostalgic reverie that his writing inspired in me. His application of horoscopic rules — very much horary-based — was like tracking the twists and turns of a mystery narrative. And Ivy delineated natal charts in a similar manner.
Roell’s method embodied the same joy I’d felt as a teenager, when I first discovered astrology in the 70s, complete with the belief that absolute facts and secret insights could be directly culled from a horoscope; a condition I no longer consider possible, nor teach from — but still, how fun it was to believe and dream like that back in the day.
As many of my regular readers know, I’ve taken a break from working with the Tarot during our sessions. But: Good news! of the rare sort:
My friend and colleague Glenn Wright (known to longtime Internet Tarot aficionados as Jess Karlin) recently announced that he is offering online Tarot readings.
This is akin to astrologer Liz Greene or Robert Hand offering affordable, instantly accessible, one-on-one astrological sessions via PayPal. Kinda amazing, yes?
Glenn’s Tarot knowledge is encyclopedic — and grounded in years of devotion to the art.
His book Rhapsodies of the Bizarre: Origin of Occult Tarot is the last, great academic study to be published within a niche that’s glutted with goofy post-modern Tarot effluvia.
My own testimonial (and instances of hopping over the “Physician Heal Thyself” aphorism):
I’ve scheduled several readings with Glenn over the year, at critical junctures and, well, the results were so multifaceted it took me a week to unpack all of the layers; though his insights were utterly practical — spot-on and eerily, instantly applicable.
With both Mercury and the Sun presently in Leo, it’s the ordained cosmic moment to do what Tarot’s Sun card does best, should we make the request and intention: Offer us complete, 360-degree illumination, with no stone left unturned within the unconscious. Think about that — and then contact Glenn today.
Take command of this unique opportunity now. (And be sure to include your question or ‘issue of interest’ when you place your request).
In the declaration below, Allen Ginsberg explains why it is vital to write.
I’ll simply add this: Similar to the how the ego is targeted as a pariah within the psyche’s field of awareness, the mind also is often devalued and maligned as a function that sidetracks us — prevents focused attention.
Ginsberg reminds us that the mind is a mirror. And when we remember this I think we’re aligned in the right way with our apparatus.
“Proclamation of the actual mind, manifesting your mind, writing the mind, which goes back to Kerouac but also goes back to Milarepa, goes back to his original instructions: Don’t you trust your own mind? Why do you need a piece of paper?
So writing could be seen as “writing your mind”, observing your own mind, or observe what’s vivid coming to mind. For the purpose of relieving your own paranoia, and others’, revealing yourself and communicating to others. It is a blessing for other people if you can communicate and relieve their sense of isolation, confusion, bewilderment, and suffering by offering your own mind as a sample of what’s palpable, visible, and whatever little you’ve learned.
In other words, if you can show your mind it reminds people that they have got a mind. If you can catch yourself thinking, it reminds people that they can catch themselves thinking. If you have a vivid moment that’s more open and compassionate, it reminds people that they have those vivid moments.
By showing your mind as a mirror, you can make a mirror for other people to recognize their own minds and see familiarity and not feel that their minds are unworthy of affection or appreciation. It is appreciation of consciousness, appreciation of our own consciousness.”
– Allen Ginsberg