The History of The Astropoetic School

The Eye of the Centaur

 

The first incarnation of The Astropoetic School was a unique correspondence course called The Eye of the Centaur, which I started in 1993.  The course was named in reference to Chiron, the Greek mentor to heroes, healers, warriors and leaders, as well as a minor planet/comet that became popular among astrologers after its discovery in 1977.  With Chiron conjunct my Sun within less than 30' of arc, I felt a strong affinity for this archetype, especially in my desire to help all my students, to not just master the art of astrology, but also to use their emerging astrological knowledge as souls evolving to become the heroes and heroines of their own mythopoetic journeys into the fullest possible expression of their potential.

Because I had a special appreciation for the uniqueness of each student, I decided from the outset not to create a canned one-size-fits-all set of lessons, but rather to create each lesson for each student from scratch.  Nor was there, at this stage, any sense of a standardized linear progression of ideas about where to begin or what would logically come next.  With one student, I might start my focusing on their Mars; with another, I might teach an orientation to the houses; with a third, I might hone in on a particular sign of the zodiac, or element, or other emphasized characteristic of their particular birthchart.  While this approach would seem rather chaotic to most teachers of astrology, the focus in this course was on the individual student and what particular piece of astrological knowledge might best assist them to deal with their life process in the here and now.  Since all of astrology is based on circular motion, I reasoned, with all students, if they stayed with the course long enough, we would eventually cover all the primary astrological bases.  This, at least, was the theoretical method to my madness. 

At the end of the year, all my students would gather for a three-day workshop, designed around the common threads that would invariably mysteriously weave through the individual work.  Each year presented a different theme: healing the astrological shadow; reclaiming the radiant inner child; embracing the holy other in relationship; and so on, and I would design some astrological instruction that would be accessible to all students, regardless of their place in the course, as well as exercises that encouraged students to embody what they were learning.  In addition, the informal intermingling of students with each other proved to be an invaluable part of the Centaur experience.

While this approach to teaching was richly rewarding, it soon became increasingly untenable.  At its peak in 1998, I was designing individualized lessons for two dozen students, while also juggling a part time business involving intensive travel, running a local political campaign, and serving on the board of the land cooperative where I owned 10 acres and a cabin in the woods.  I was also wanting to write my first astrology book, The Seven Gates of Soul, and needing to carve out time for that, where there didn't seem to be any.  When transiting Pluto opposed my natal Moon, I contracted pneumonia as my father was dying, and took this confluence of events to be my wake up call.  Over the next three years, I worked to clear my deck, gradually releasing each of my students, so I could take a sabbatical from my course and make the book my priority.

The Astropoetic School of Soul Discovery

When I was ready to resume my course, I decided to do it differently in order to make it easier and more manageable.  Although I had long resisted standardizing my lessons, by this time, I had accumulated lots of examples of how various astrological principles had operated within the real life experiences of my students, which I supplemented with detailed biographical material from famous people, in order to illustrate various bits and pieces of the teachings.  I also had a much better sense of what worked and what didn't work, and the various questions and stumbling blocks that had arisen for previous students.  All of this got woven into the new course, which I launched in 2005, and which I supplemented with private online sessions and copious email exchanges in between lessons.  In short, although the written material had been standardized, the course was still built around my personal relationship with each student and my response to their individual questions and concerns.

 

In 2015, I began developing a more advanced course for students with some astrological knowledge, around the material presented in my second book, Tracking the Soul With an Astrology of Consciousness, integrating astrology and the chakra system.  At the present time, a third course is planned called The Soul of Numbers, which will present the material developed in writing Astrology and the Archetypal Power of Numbers, Part One and Two, showing how a Pythagorean sense of number as a multi-dimensional layering of divine intelligence within our experience on this physical planet, is also written into our birthcharts as part of the soul's code.

 

All of these courses, and everything presented by The Astropoetic School is a perpetual work in progress, constantly being upgraded and improved through the feedback of those who participate in The School's offerings and activities.  In this way, it continues to be my intent to offer the best quality, in depth course of astrological study possible, with an unparalleled level of personal attention at its core.   

Yggdrasil Mystery School/Forest Retreat

In 2011, I went out into the Utah wilderness for an exquisitely designed 13-day vision quest experience called The Underworld Journey, led by eco-psychologist Bill Plotkin and the Animas Valley Institute.  I had gone with intent to celebrate and honor my passage into elderhood, but I came back with an unexpected vision: to expand the scope and reach of The School through cooperation and collaboration with other teachers, healers and community leaders.  In retrospect, I might envision this as something Chiron might eventually do, as he engaged various other deities on Olympus to work with his students and proteges.  I had done this myself by inviting various co-presenters to work with me to teach portions of The Eye of the Centaur annual workshops that were beyond the range of my expertise. 

 

In my vision of Yggdrasil - named after the World Tree in Norse mythology - I wanted to expand this idea to eventually encompass a full soul-based curriculum that would serve students and seekers wanting to more consciously and intentionally walk a path uniquely theirs.  I envisioned astropoetics to eventually be a common language within the curriculum, but the full range of the offerings at Yggdrasil would integrate the talents and perspectives of a wide range of teachings and healing modalities.

 

In 2012, I gathered together the first Talking Council - which I envisioned as the guiding body for the development of Yggdrasil's mystery school, and for the next seven years, I worked intensively with a couple of dozen friends, colleagues and co-creative "contrarians," each of whom brought something unique to the mix.  Together we put together and co-taught a number of workshops, including a modified version of my Tracking the Soul workshop (goes to EXPERIENCE: Workshops: Tracking the Soul) for people with no prior knowledge of astrology.  We also started a Dream Council, and developed a Mentorship Program, offering guidance in a wide range of styles, from a number of wise and experienced mentors of various persuasions.

Included as part of the original vision was the idea that eventually Yggdrasil would be a full fledged community of students, teachers, healers and seekers, housed near wilderness, probably somewhere abroad.  Apart from a couple of exploratory trips to the Scandinavian countries and Canada, however, the vision never manifested on this level.

With the usual litany of challenges and obstacles, as well as a changing cast of characters, Yggdrasil was ultimately a fun and adventurous experiment.  In the end, we decided to go our separate ways, primarily because of philosophical differences in the material we wanted to teach.  At the end of 2018, I decided to refocus my energies in the further development of The Astropoetic School, having taken everything I had learned from this collaborative experience into my current teachings, which have since become more focused on the primacy of the individual, seeking to live as consciously and as compassionately as possible, and to make a creative contribution to the greater Whole, as an individual.  The possibilities of group co-creativity, and by extension, our collective experience, trying to evolve as a species within community with each other, remains a mystery, still beyond my reach.

 

For those who are curious about my abandoned vision for Yggdrasil, here is a link to its old website.    

Where to Go From Here

To read about the vision behind The School, go here.

To read about my approach to teaching at The School, go here.

 

To view courses available to students of The School, go here (goes to EXPERIENCE: Courses).

To read about more in-depth apprenticeships available to practicing astrologers, go here (goes to EXPERIENCE: Apprenticeships).

To learn more about workshops available to non-astrologers, go here (goes to EXPERIENCE: Workshops).

Copyright 2020 - Joe Landwehr