“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. Read more
• “Science has failed. Science, as we understand it, is too flabby, too simplistic…”
• “Collective unconsciousness? No. That’s flatly rubbish.”
• “Ink on paper survives. Electrons don’t.”
• “Ordinarily, organized religion is the most powerful thing on the planet, but in the Aquarian Age, gays are.”
Welcome to astrologer, publisher and online entrepreneur David Roell‘s world. Those are his quotes above. I promise you a stimulating, occasionally infuriating but always consciousness-twanging read.
What’s that classic Bette Davis line from All About Eve? It’ll be fitting. Oh, yes: “Fasten your seat belts, it’s going to be a bumpy night.”
David and I met a decade ago. I’d tumbled into his online bookstore Astrology Center of America one evening and went missing for hours; hopping from book review to book review — my eyes popping, brain smoking.
Dave’s critiques were piquant — often blunt and eviscerating — and he never shellacked bull to make a sale. I didn’t always agree, but Dave’s disregard for polticial correctness was refreshing. The astrological world could use more of this tough love approach. Too much New Age babble occupies the mainstream while worthy tomes are shoved into the backwaters of academia. And — oops, Sylvia Browne just released a new bestseller.
I fired a fan letter off to Dave that same evening and he responded almost instantly, in that eerie way that makes you wonder if Aquarian people ever sleep (it must have been 3AM in Maryland).
A wild rapids discussion followed. From Mozart’s suspicious death, to planetary nodes, to demigoddess Liz Greene‘s PhD. Somehow we dovetailed from a Venus in Taurus deconstruction into David comparing the weary faces of overworked female opera singers to those of beleaguered California porn vixens. At first I couldn’t follow his logic, but eventually grasped his point regarding the occupational hazards of a throat-based craft. With this later bit of wisdom I knew I’d met a kindred spirit.
Dave’s wonkiness is similar to my own. And who doesn’t like corresponding with someone who is just like you — only better? I also sensed that Dave and I would remain in touch for life.
Although my first teacher was Ivy Goldstein-Jacobson, I’d progressed over the years into the tar baby of psychological astrology. David’s application of traditional astrological techniques impressed me. This goaded me, eventually, into studying William Lilly, John Frawley, Geoffrey Cornelius, Deborah Houlding and others. I kept asking David: “OK, so what should I read next? Send it to me.”
This interview took place over a three week period. Before we’d even started, and in typical Roell fashion, our exchange was darkened by his cup-half-empty appraisal. Dave had revisited the synastry between our charts. His concern: “Hmmm, your Jupiter is conjunct my South Node so this interview will probably turn out to be a whole lot of nothing.”
And of course, in typical Roell fashion, it became the exact opposite.
Enjoy the rabbit hole you’re about to enter. Revel in Dave’s revolutionary ideas about an earth-based zodiac, the near-uselessness of modern medicine, homosexuality and the Aquarian Age, and then go buy some good books.
Please, leave your comments and questions below the interview, even if it’s four in the morning you’ll probably have a response from Dave in an instant.
Going over my notes today for the chapter I’m finishing up on debunking the notion that the Zodiac is something that floats around out in space and somehow corresponds to the equatorial division of the earth’s surface into twelve pie pieces, I came across notes I’m incorporating from the late, great David Roell — who I borrowed heavily from for this chapter (namely his proposition regarding an earth-based Zodiac).
After detailing in pointed detail his thesis, David anticipates the blowback and his Aquarian brain darts over and assumes a defensive posture against science itself. It was exchanges like this with him that always confirmed my sense that he was a curmudgeonly genius:
“None of this will satisfy science, which will remain hostile to astrology by reason of its very existence. Science, which admits of no external limits (“we alone know what is true and what is false”) is in fact highly sensitive to overall social mores. In racist societies, science finds justification for racism, up to and including sterilization and euthanasia. In materialistic societies, science finds justification for materialism. In warlike societies, science builds bombs. In unequal societies, science justifies inequality.
Every society has the science it deserves. In every society, science, believing itself to be absolute, attacks whatever would limit its power and authority, without regard for any other factor. Hence its disdain for religion and astrology. Science is nuclear weapons, created, like the ghastly Holocaust, simply because it could be done, without regard for moral consequences.
Without external, guiding principles, science is Eve’s apple (from the Tree of Knowledge), sent to seduce Adam. Astrology can be a guiding principle. So can religious belief. Since both submit to higher authority, for better or worse. “Higher Authority” is not “God,” so much as the totality of creation that is vastly more complex than we can ever know. Hence the brilliance of astrology’s original concept, that of elements and energies, which can be applied universally.
Astrology is the study of the Earth. How the Earth relates to the Sun, Moon and planets, and what that means to the creatures that crawl on its surface. Astrology is the one fundamental science, surpassing all others.”
My friend David Roell runs a real brick and mortar bookshop in Maryland. It is one of the best annexes around for all things astrological. He just notified me that his bookstore’s shipment of Jim Maynard‘s Celestial Guide calendars have arrived and that it’s time for you to order yours now.
Please consider purchasing your calendar from an astrologer and an astrology bookshop as it goes a long way in keeping a business like David’s Astrology Center of America available to all of us. David has an incredibly comprehensive collection of books and we want to keep him and his business around for a long time.
About the calendars, David offered this fascinating observation:
“Give one to a child who wants to learn the craft. Have him/her learn to use the voids as a guide to daily activities. Train him to sense the Moon’s transit through the various signs, give him practical advice from Mercury retrograde, etc.
From what I’ve worked out, astrology shows the Earth’s daily temperature, in other words the Earth’s unique ever-changing vibration as it continuously relates to the Sun, Moon and other planets. Astrology does not rain from an empty sky. It radiates from the earth itself . You should no more ignore the daily ephemeris than you should go out of doors without regard to the weather. Astrology describes the raw energies of this planet, our home, nothing more and nothing less. That’s what Maynard has given us, on a daily basis and set in our own proper time for easy reference.”
Astro Web Destinations
Two of my favorite astrology websites that I want to note for you this month are both published by women and they both offer unique insights into the ongoing dialogue between you and me and the solar system. I prefer sites like this where you develop a distinct sense of the author’s character and proclivities; a kind of approachability that tempers astrology’s intimidating complexities. This brings astrology down to earth and makes it accessible without involving Sun sign banter or romance advice (not that I’ve anything against that sort of astrology).
A good example of what I’m talking about is Wonder Bright‘s Stars of Wonder.
Wonder’s prose is akin to sitting down with a friend over a cup of coffee and moving through a myriad of topics both celestial and terrestrial. Her first-person retellings generate an inviting aperture on the astrological matrix.
I particularly enjoyed her recent rumination on the Twilight series of movies, the story’s heroine Bella, and how our culture has become so distanced from a healthy connection to the feminine we’ve had to devise a way back to her essence through the supernatural realm. Highly recommended.
My friend and art colleague Kate Petty publishes Ambient Astrology, a beautiful respite and reminder that astrology websites don’t have to resemble a carnival attraction to hold your attention.
Kate’s fierce interest in some of astrology’s more esoteric and complex modalities, namely the school of Symmetrical Astrology (the bug of which bit me hard when I met up with one of its kingpins, Gary Christen, at the recent NORWAC astrology convention in Seattle) and employing antiscia when studying the various markers of the horoscope, underlie many of her articles.
Kate’s most recent post, Reclaiming the Apocalypse, will give you pause when you consider the intense, unprecedented array of exact planetary aspects we’ll experience through the remainder of November. Spend time with this piece and you’ll come away with a new way of considering what living through a cycle’s final throes implies. It’s both thrilling and unnerving, but we wouldn’t be here to usher in this new phase if we weren’t gifted with the substance of soul to persevere.
Have a site you think I should know about? Please share your comments below. I’m all ears (and eyes).
The Sabian symbol for last night’s solar eclipse is one of the most evocative in the series, and mirrors Obama‘s emergence as a symbol for a new form of leadership in the United States. I’m quoting from Dane Rudhyar‘s commentary and excellent book (really the only good book on the subject), An Astrological Mandala: The Cycle of Transformation and its 360 Degree Symbolic Phase.
The symbol for seven degrees Aquarius is: A child is seen being born out of an egg. Rudhyar writes that this marks the materialization of a “global man for the New Age.” Considering Obama’s ascendancy, and his political impact on the cross-cultural, world stage — the synchronicity is potent. Rudhyar explains that the “ancient symbolism of the Cosmic Egg out of which a new universe is born can be interpreted at several levels. Here we see the appearance of a new type of human being who is not born from “Ancestors” and who therefore is free from the inertia of mankind’s past. He is a new product of evolution, a mutant.” Read more