Established astrologers — those that make some sort of living from the subject — are decidedly divided when it comes to the issue of Sun sign columns. To some, Sun sign astrology is a disgrace to the profundity and subtleties of the art/science. While others, myself included, see horoscope columns as good lure. If it weren’t for those tiny Dell Sun Sign booklets that I hoarded as a kid, I’d never have dedicated myself so determinedly to deeper study.
To pugnacious scientists like Richard Dawkins‘ dismay, it’s a dazzling testament to astrology’s archetypal oracular power that nearly every periodical in the world carries a horoscope section. Most of the Sun sign columns read like fortune cookie banalities — and this might be the secret to their appeal (their association with eating dessert). But occasionally, amidst the riffraff and floss, a column appears that is both astrologically erudite and pop-culturally savvy — written in a manner that speaks to the urban poet (and astrology lover) within each of us. Rockie Gardiner‘s Sun sign column for the L.A. Weekly, The Rockie Horoscope was just such a creation.
Sadly, I found out last night while chatting with my friend Wendy Cohen, that Rockie had taken egress from this planet last October. Fittingly on Halloween. Fittingly at 11:11 a.m. She was 70.
The news hit me sort of hard and became another notch in my tally of funk-laden 2008 events. Though we’d never met, I considered Mrs. Gardiner one of my teachers. From the moment I started following her column in the mid-80s, I was captivated by her colloquial style and command of astrological tenets. A true-blue Sagittarian, Rockie knew how to seamlessly blend the revered and the rambunctious in her writing. Her column, which went on to be syndicated across the globe, always stayed on course astrologically, detailing and reading brilliantly the aspects, lunations and continuous planetary motions. But she was never highbrowed or clever (for the sake of being clever) with her efforts — the sort of bullshit Sagittarians bemoan. Consequently everyone had a good time each week. Her readers were informed, entertained and probably just a tad smarter about the way astrology worked. Again, a real gift of the Sagittarian — the ability to make learning fun.
In addition, and most importantly, Rockie possessed that difficult to define quality that separates good astrologers from mediocre astrologers. A kind of alignment or channel, born of a respect and awe of the subject, that tethers the astrologer to the heart and soul of her craft — a true hearing and reading of the music and poetry of the spheres. Rockie possessed that gift and the journalistic expertise to transmit her ardor, on a tight schedule, regularly, to her readers.
I’d always get a laugh when I’d log on to the L.A. Weekly site, hoping to read Rockie’s latest dispatch, only to find that I was a day early! The new column hadn’t been published yet. Instead there was a default ‘come back later — she’s gone now’ notice posted on the page that read simply (and I will remember Rockie now, forever, in this way): Rockie is soaking up atmosphere and astrological insight.
I’ll miss you, dear Rockie.