My Personal Journey

Stepping Onto My Path

Meeting Sunny Blue Boy

In early June of 1971, I was wandering the streets of Ashland, Oregon, a lost soul, floating in a sea of confusion. I was suffering the painful consequences of naïveté on my first 'adult' foray out into the world, feeling sorry for myself, trying to pick up the pieces of a broken dream, and move on. I happened to see a flyer on a bulletin board advertising the services of a man named Sunny Blue Boy, who spoke the Star Tongue, and promised to help me put my life in order. I was intrigued, and perhaps somewhat desperate, so I called him up, gave him my birth information, and arranged an appointment.

 

I explained at the outset that I didn't have any money, but that maybe I could trade something he might be interested in. Sunny Blue Boy didn't seem the least disturbed by my revelation. Here was obviously a man who had found something that excited him, and that he wanted to share. I settled back for an experience that I could not foresee ahead of time would become a turning point in my life. For the next five hours, Sunny Blue Boy proceeded to tell me more about myself than I could ever have imagined my best friend, let alone a complete stranger, would be able to tell. I was absolutely fascinated. I simply had to know how he could possibly know what he knew.

Thus began for me, my nearly 50 years study of astrology, and an ongoing journey into the mysteries of the human psyche, and their uncanny reflection in the ever-shifting pattern of the sky.  Since that fateful reading by Sunny Blue Boy, I have had the pleasure to explore the birthcharts of hundreds of incredible people from all walks of life, and from all around the world. I have also studied my own chart in great depth, and still marvel each time I return to it, just how much new information it is capable of revealing. Rarely have I ever applied astrological insight to a situation, whether my own or someone else's, that it has not borne the gift of clarity, affirmation, and empowerment.

My Spiritual Quest

From Kundalini Yoga to Wilderness Immersion Experiences

Throughout the 70s, 80s, and 90s, in addition to my ongoing work with traditional astrology, I also studied and explored many other spiritual disciplines, each in their own way contributing to the foundation upon which my work is currently built. From 1972 to 1977, I lived in several ashrams, studying with Yogi Bhajan and many of his protégés, practicing and teaching kundalini yoga and meditation. From 1977 to 1980, I continued my study of kundalini yoga, albeit from the radically different perspective presented by Swami Muktananda.

I obtained a Master's degree in Marriage, Family and Child counseling in 1975, during a fertile era in which East met West, and an eclectic approach to psychotherapy sought an understanding of peak experiences, human potential, and altered states of consciousness, as well as its traditional preoccupation with psychological patterns mired in dysfunction.  During this period, I was heavily influenced by the writings of Carl Jung and those he influenced – including Joseph Campbell, Erich Neumann, and James Hillman – Abraham Maslow and the humanistic psychology movement; Milton Erickson and the Brief Therapy movement; along with the spiritual teachings of Ram Dass and Carlos Castaneda, and the astrology of Dane Rudhyar, Marc Edmund Jones and Steven Arroyo.

Throughout the 80s and beyond, I studied Sufi practices with students of Pir Vilayat Khan, and Cherokee medicine work, as taught by Dhyani Ywahoo. Along the way, incidental exposure to rolfing, rebirthing, Eriksonian hypnotherapy, shamanic journeywork, the eclectic approach to dreamwork espoused by Stephen Kaplan Williams and later by Stephen Aizenstadt, Native American teachings including the sweat lodge and vision quest, the  American Buddhist teachings of Pema Chodron, the visionary biology of Stephen Buhner, the sacred ecstatics of Bradford Keeney, the seminal astrology of Liz Greene, Steven Forrest, Greg Bogart, and Rick Tarnas, astrocartography as taught by Ariel Guttman and a 3-year course in medical astrology as taught by Ingrid Naiman rounded out my education.    In the last decade or so, I have done several workshops with Bill Plotkin and the Animas Valley Institute, including a 13-day Underworld Journey in Grand Escalante Staircase. 

 

I have always been very eclectic in my quest for transformational tools that work, and continue to incorporate bits and pieces from a wide range of sources into my work – continuing to read, study and plumb by own experiences for useful nuggets of practical and sometimes crazy wisdom.

From 1987 to 2000, I worked intensively with ceremonial shaman/ psychotherapist Dick Prosapio, presenting a wide variety of workshops at an annual three-day wilderness retreat in the high desert country of New Mexico called the Long Dance.  Each workshop was different, some created spontaneously on the spot in response to the issues, concerns and emerging themes common to the group of the people who had assembled for the particular dance.  Dick was an important mentor, who gave me the space and encouragement to find my feet as a teacher.

In 1990, at the height of my career as an international mail-order astrologer, I began to feel the psychic burden that comes with dipping into the unconscious on behalf other people. I felt the intuitive channels becoming clogged, and I knew it was time to take a break. These sentiments were, of course, echoed in my own birthchart, and so I decided to do something else for awhile.  I turned my attention to environmental issues, and literally brought my energies and my attention from the cosmos to ground zero.

From 1990 to 1993, I established and ran the Rainforest Information Center, the fundraising and educational foundation for a series of cutting-edge projects in the Ecuadorian rainforests initiated by a friend of mine named Ali Sharif. It was a powerful learning experience, enlightening and humbling at the same time.

 

As my involvement in the Rainforest Information Center was ending, I got a letter from an old friend. In the letter, she described a recent period of crisis, and concluded by saying, "... and I would have sought your guidance, but I didn't think you were doing astrology anymore." I felt a twinge of regret that I had not been there for her the way I might have been, and then decided that it was time to return to my lifelong passion.

Teaching Astrology

Seeing Through the Eye of the Centaur

This time around, however, I vowed that I wanted to do it differently. I remembered my sense of burnout at being responsible for providing guidance to other people, and decided that what I really wanted to be doing was teaching other people how to speak the language of astrology for themselves. I began to conceive of the practice of astrology, not as an interpretative art, but as a language of self-reflection and a spiritual practice leading to self-knowledge.

 

In the midst of a new age, in which readers of all persuasions and ideological stripes could be found in nearly every small village or town, or just a mouse-click away, I wanted to promote self-reliance in the quest for personal truth. The old adage, "Catch a fish for someone, and you feed them for a day. Teach them to fish, and you feed them for a lifetime," came to mind, and I began to conceive the idea for a correspondence course – the precursor to The Astropoetic School –that I called The Eye of the Centaur.

The name of this correspondence course referred to the visionary capacity of the mythological mentor, Chiron, who was able to look deeply into the souls under his tutelage, initiate them onto the spiritual journey they had taken birth to pursue, and draw forth their highest potential - whether that be to heal, to perform some heroic feat, or to assume a position of enlightened leadership within the community.

With Chiron tightly conjunct both the Sun and Ascendant of my birthchart, I saw my role, in designing this correspondence course, to be of the same lineage.  Though the name has changed in the evolution of the course into The Astropoetic School, this is still the mytho-astrological foundation for the vision fueling this venture.

 

From 1993 to 2001, I worked intensively and intimately as an astrological mentor to a limited number of students from around the world. Throughout this period, I generated nearly 600 lessons - each one created specifically for an individual student, with no two lessons exactly alike.

In 1998, I began organizing the material generated through the personal lessons into a more structured and more accessible format that will allow participation by a greater number of students, and provide a foundation upon which the vision that is Eye of the Centaur could move to the next level – now encompassed by The Astropoetic School.

 

Both the course and The Astropoetic School are a perpetual work in progress and a distillation of all that I am learning as I teach. Everything presented in the course and by The School has evolved through my response to the real-life issues, concerns, and challenges faced by individual students, and reflects the cumulative wisdom harvested in our joint quest for answers. Throughout this process, each student has been my teacher, taking me into territory not previously explored, and much new material, unavailable anywhere else, has been generated.

Writing About Astrology

Through the Seven Gates of Soul

In 2001, I felt compelled to take a sabbatical in order to write a book encompassing all that I had learned in my 8 years of teaching The Eye of the Centaur. As I got into this project, however, I found myself researching a much broader philosophical history of ideas about the soul, and exploring the ways in which this history has impacted our collective image of ourselves and the current practice of astrology.

 

The end result – The Seven Gates of Soul: Reclaiming the Poetry of Everyday Life – presents this history and lays a broad philosophical foundation for the transmutation of astrology into astropoetics, a self-reflective approach to astrology based on the observation of poetic moments in any life in progress, as they are reflected by astrological cycles.  

My original vision – of spelling out the practice of astropoetics – has continued through a series of books I have been publishing since, with several more to come.  The Astropoetic Series is intended to systematically explore the philosophical roots of astrology in its relationship to the spiritual psychology of numbers, astronomy, mythology and symbolic logic, as well as outline a more conscious approach to astrology that understands it to be a poetic exercise in consciousness, rooted in the poetry of everyday life as well as in a profoundly personal relationship between psyche and cosmos.  The Seven Gates of Soul was a first step in that direction.

My second book, Tracking the Soul With an Astrology of Consciousness – published in 2007, outlines a complete system of spiritual psychology, integrating astrology and the chakra system.  The chakra system allows us to assess the level of consciousness at which a given astrological pattern is likely to manifest, and outlines a range of options with regard to the symbolism of a birthchart.  It is this range of options and the exercise of consciousness in relation to it that makes each chart - even two for the exact same time and place of birth - as unique as a fingerprint.  Tracking the Soul integrates my knowledge of astrology with all that I learned in my ashram years with Yogi Bhajan and Swami Muktananda.

My third book – Astrology and the Archetypal Power of Numbers, Part One: A Contemporary Reformulation of Pythagorean Number Theory - shows how the qualitative dimension of number – completely lost to science – contributes layers of meaning both to the individual birthchart and to the collective psychology of our common history.  Beyond the exercise of consciousness, it is the interweaving of number throughout a birthchart that provides the underpinning for astropoetic images – both individual and historical – that color a birthchart with living nuance.  Astrology and the Archetypal Power of Numbers was published in 2011.

Its sequel – Astrology and the Archetypal Power of Numbers, Part Two: Arithmology in the Birthchart (published in 2018) – takes the basic principles of spiritual psychology at the heart of Pythagorean number theory and shows how they are reflected in the birthcharts of dozens of extensive case studies, and a number of world events.

 

My sixth book (currently a work in progress) will be about the relationship between astrology and science, and how astrology is an epistemology in its own right, very different from, but potentially complementary to science – measuring the qualitative dimensions of a subjective life, as each of us quests for a deeper sense of meaning and purpose, as opposed to science’s emphasis on the quantitative dimension of objective truths, more useful in the realm of physical than psychological or spiritual realities.

Second Saturn Return

Sharing a Lifetime of Experience

Since 2007, I have been revising my basic correspondence course to include new material derived from my books, and to reflect more accurately and in more detail the astropoetic approach to astrology.  This material deviates from standard astrology in increasingly important ways, although it still rests upon a sound astro-logical foundation.  The new course also includes many more examples - astropoetic moments and illustrations of principles - taken from my work with students; my extensive chart files of famous people, supplemented by biographical and auto-biographical anecdotes; and my own personal life experience.

In October 2011, after a vision quest in the Utah high desert country, I was inspired to want to start a collaborative effort and work co-creatively with others.  In early 2012, I wrote out a vision statement for a mystery school retreat center called Yggdrasil, after the World Tree in Norse mythology, and gathered together a small band of healers, teachers and authors into a Talking Council, charged with the task of guiding the vision into manifest form. 

 

Although the retreat center never materialized, over the course of the next six years – 2012 – 2018 – the Talking Council developed two life changing workshops, and a mentorship program.  In late 2018, because of philosophical differences, we decided to go our separate ways, and I have continued to write, teach, counsel and mentor others on my own.

In 2016, I turned Tracking the Soul into a webinar class for professional astrologers, who want to learn to work with the astro-chakra system in relation to their own birthchart, and have since taught the webinar twice, each time learning enough about my own system to warrant a second edition of the book.

Onward into a Future of Astropoetic Dreams

Inviting You to Join Me

Over the past 50 years or so of my astrological career, this has been a fascinating and richly rewarding journey.  In many ways, at a time when others my age and at my level of experience are retiring and moving on to more personal pastures, I feel I am in some ways, just getting started.  In the months and years ahead, I hope to continue writing books, expand and refill my correspondence course and webinar classes, and make myself available to anyone in need, for whom the perspective of a seasoned astrologer might be valuable.

If in exploring this website, you feel inspired by what you read, I invite you to join me at whatever level of interest of current knowledge of astrology you might have, and together we can see our way into the co-creative magic of future possibilities.

Where to Go From Here

If you want to read more about my approach to astrology, go here.

 

If you would like a consultation, you can read more about your options here (goes to EXPERIENCE: Consultations).

If you would like to study with me, go here (goes to EXPERIENCE: Courses).

Copyright 2020 - Joe Landwehr