July 29, 20139 Comments

“Astrology for the Astrologically Challenged,” by Deborah Smith Parker

Poet's QuillA few years ago I when I told my friends and astrological colleagues I was writing an astrology book which would mostly be in rhymed verse, I got a lot of blank stares and even one, “You’re kidding, right?”

I was neither surprised nor discouraged by these responses because I have learned that when people consider  poetry and astrology as a single concept what usually comes to mind is lugubrious Neptunian slosh slopping all over the page.

I was confident. I had equity in the process. I was already a many times published writer and poet – even winning a few prizes. I got an early start partly because of the (then) superior Wisconsin school system that launched my writing, but primarily because of my father. He brought my brother and me up to be bi-lingual – fluent in both prose and poetry. It was from him that I first learned the magic and power of poetry before I could read and write.

Some of my earliest memories include nights I sneaked out of bed to hide on the upstairs landing, peeking through the balustrades of the banister to watch and listen to the party downstairs where Dad had been requested again to recite one of the many enthralling story poems he was known for. Men and women in fine evening wear, some seated on the floor, the women with the skirts of their gowns spread out around them, were as focused on my father as a group of first graders listening to their favorite story.

Dad didn’t just recite poetry, he wrote it – and he taught us how. We’d practice both writing and speaking in different meters and styles. When we were old enough we’d stay at the table long after dinner crafting verse that cracked us up. In my extended family the “fun gene” was largely recessive but in our little nucleus it was flamingly dominant. Those outside the family liked our “work” too and often drafted us to help with writing skits and other entertainments, something that has followed me to this day.

Just before I published Humanus Astrologicus I read many excerpts on the various planetary placements at one of the San Diego Astrological Society’s monthly lectures. It was the most poorly attended lecture of any we’d had in a long time. I know this because I’m a long time board member. I also knew that in spite of knowing me they still couldn’t get over the Neptunian slosh hump—until later, that is.

The good news was that those who came to my lecture later raved about it to others, I learned, and when my book was published it proved to be one of the best sellers among our members. I included a few excerpts at the end of this post so you can judge for yourself.

A poet’s craft and wit can transform anything mundane into images with real sticking power. Poetry is a language of images wrapped in rhythm – all the better if coupled with rhyme. Science has confirmed that the brain hungrily receives images, rhythms and rhymes. That’s why we remember the words to songs much more easily than the often dull and ponderous prose that is the principal expression of our daily communications.

Astrology, too, is a language of images so it is a perfect fit for it to be described in verse.

My astrological verse had its public debut many years ago at a metaphysical school in which I taught astrology. There was a disproportionate number of Aquarians involved so we decided to have a birthday party for them which started a tradition of monthly parties for the current sign. I wrote a poem for them which turned out to be a big hit.

The opening lines were: “You think they’re there when they are not./Their standard line is ‘I forgot.’ “ Several years later I found the poem squirreled away in a file drawer. It started me thinking why not do all the Sun signs and then expand to include other planets? That’s how the book was born.

Those who have my book have their favorite verses. Here are some of mine, a few teeny tiny excerpts from much longer verses:

Poetry reading hint: Don’t run out to the end of the line like it’s a diving board and then stop. Follow the punctuation and let the rhythm help you.

Gemini Sun: (Longer excerpt since I didn’t want to break up the sentence.)
A part of them must always be
in flight with wingéd Mercury
who is magician to the gods
and, thus, increases well the odds
that his prized magical caduceus
of the mind can then seduce us
into thinking that what is is not
and what is not is best forgot.
You missed that, did you, flew right by?
You must keep up with Gemini!

Leo Moon:
They must separate their feelings
from their egos in their dealings
for their warmth and generosity
can come mixed with some pomposity.

Mercury in Capricorn:
They consider idle chatter
dumb; to them it doesn’t matter.

Venus in Scorpio:
Flowers do not chase the bees.
These are people more at ease
with being those who stand and wait
to let their magic captivate.
Be careful here—make no mistake!
They’ll charm the skin right off a snake.

Mars in Libra:
They need relationships as anchor
though they may be filled with rancor
because they’re drawn to fires made
by those who throw the hand grenade.

Jupiter in Aries:
Those engaged in formal training
often find it dull and draining.
Even thought they see it through
they learn best by the things they do.

Saturn in Sagittarius:
They take in information slowly.
They find the human mind quite holy.
They know meaning when they see it,
but their challenge? How to free it.

So let me know what you think. I’d love to hear.

Deborah Smith Parker is the author of Humanus Astrologicus, available both in soft cover on this site and on Kindle. To sign up to receive her blog or follow her on Twitter (@astro_logicus) and Facebook click to the right of this post.


About author:

Deborah Smith Parker is re-writing the often impenetrable language of astrology into a much friendlier form. She has spent her 30 plus years as an astrological consultant, writer, teacher and lecturer freeing the rich astrological images and their descriptions increasingly buried under modern clinical and technological descriptions. Her additional work in public policy has provided many outlets for demonstrating her ability to break down highly complex systems into information that’s easily understood.

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  1. Beth says:

    This is such a lovely memoir, Deborah. I love it when you take us back to Wisconsin. And the picture of the party — oh my. Right out of a Cheddarhead Cheever. But what I really wanted to say is this: I keep Humanus Astrologicus close, not because of the couplets, but because of the insightful astrology behind the Nashian splendor.

  2. Deborah – Love the book. Interesting that I have 3 of the aspects you selected…too true…

  3. Oops – meant to say that I have three of the sign placements you described – quite revealing comments!

  4. Teri R says:

    I just love your gift for verse and knowing you, can imagine the hilarity around your dinner table at night. I’ve not found more accurate descriptions of my planetary placements in any other dry, formulaic book on astrology, and love entertaining unsuspecting skeptics with your clever rhymes. Thanks for sharing the history or your making.

  5. Deb, Lots of “oops” tonight. I sent out to groups of blog post emails minus the blog post. When I discovered it I finally resent it.
    Beth, thanks for your kind words on the memoir. Those scenes are forever sharp in my memory. BTW, “Failsafe” is on TCM tonight. Early in the film there is long party scene where the Walter Matthau character waxes obnoxious. There are a couple of takes of a woman leaning against the mantle wearing a striking evening gown–black velvet halter top and full b/w striped bias cut skirt. Mom had a dress exactly like it. We went to see that film as a family–I was in college–and when that scene came we all kind of squealed in surprise and delight.

  6. Jill Estensen says:

    I looked at my emails this morning and saw yours. I thought, briefly, I don’t have time now, I’ll read it after my morning appts.. I read the first couple of lines and was hooked. So now I scramble to get myself in order for the appts!!! You are a master. Thank you for the background story, it made my day. You truly are a brilliant being.

  7. Brian Pitzen says:

    Well, I was skeptical as I started the first “verses”
    Another exercise in trite rehearsals?
    But then low, my mind released it terseness.
    Behold a work of brilliant verses!

  8. Love what you do. Love you.

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