Joan Forest Mage: Thank you both for being presenters at Life Force Arts Center’s (LFAC’s) Symposium “Astrology of Passion” held on June 17, 2018. As the founder and Executive Director of Life Force Arts Center, I organize events that fulfill LFAC’s mission: to explore the connection of the arts, healing and spiritual practice based in the Life Force Arts Method, a modern version of perennial wisdom teachings that value love, true self and creative community. LFAC presents visual, literary and performing art exhibits, events and publications that awaken human potential, deepen mystical experience and create spiritual transformation.
I’m proud to say that, since opening in 2008, LFAC has developed a lovely community of astrology teachers and students. LFAC offers Beginning Astrology as well as a variety of more advanced classes on all kinds of astrological topics.
In addition, an outstanding feature of LFAC is the beautiful, spiritually-inspired art on our walls. One of our main activities is presenting juried art exhibits. In ten years of operation, we have produced 35 such exhibits featuring the work of over 150 artists. Our exhibits are based on themes related to the connection of art and spirituality, and run from 4 – 6 months each. The exhibits feature energetically powerful artwork of all styles and media. The artwork creates a sacred space for performances, spiritual rituals and other events (such as the Astro Symposiums!) that are held in conjunction with the theme of the show.
We started Astro Symposium programs in 2017. I conceived of the Astro Symposiums as convivial gatherings held quarterly for LFAC’s astrology community, as a way to combine astrology and visual art. Participants share good conversation and light refreshments while having special presentations and discussions on astrological insights related to the themes of LFAC’s exhibits. Astro Symposiums are meant for any level of expertise in astrology, from beginner to advanced.
This year of 2018, we have two exhibits at Life Force Arts Center that explore universal wisdom teachings about Youth and Maturity. Passion & Vision: The Skills of Youth runs from February 3 to June 27, 2018, and Love & Wisdom: The Skills of Maturity runs from July 20, 2018 to January 9, 2019. These exhibits are based in the Life Force Arts Method (LFAM), a powerful psychological and spiritual tool for building positive relationships from one’s inner world to the outer world.
The “Astrology of Passion” Symposium, with presenters Joe Polise and Allyson Reza, is based on LFAC’s current exhibit Passion & Vision: The Skills of Youth . We explore astrological factors related to passion and energy in relationships, work and all aspects of life. We’ll be looking at the attendees’ charts to see how astrology works for you. This event is for all who are interested in astrology and/or the theme of passion, and how astrology’s ancient wisdom can help us understand our relationship to energy, empowerment, attraction and devotion in all aspects of life.
Allyson Reza: I’m very happy to present at an Astro Symposium, Joan! I will be giving a talk on the fire signs in astrology and how they embody the virtue of passion. My focus will be on the various stages and images of passion, from quick flares to sustained actions, and how each person’s chart can be used to harness the fuel that is the passionate drive.
Joan: The fire signs are Aries, Leo and Sagittarius, correct? Most people are aware of their sun sign, which is based on their birthday. But I know that when an astrologer figures out a person’s natal chart (horoscope) it’s not just the sun sign you look at, but all the different planets and what signs they are in. For example, a person could be a Libra Sun, which is an Air sign, but have all their other planets in Fire. So they would exhibit a lot of the qualities of Fire.
Allyson: We know the fire signs to be direct, unflinching, and PASSIONATE. The flavors of passion vary widely from a flash in the pan to an arduous procession of calculated actions.
Joan: The amazing thing is that so much of that – whether the fire quality appears in a person as more of a “flash in the pan” or “smoldering desire” or “brilliant flame of action” – can be seen in a person’s birth chart.
Allyson: Observing these polarities of passion, we can begin to understand how to cultivate, apply, and sustain this power in our lives.
Joe: My presentation is “The Spiritual Energetics of Passion”. We’ll look at the relationship of the seven astrological planets and the seven chakras (energy centers of the body according to the Vedic system). The chakra system is the interface between the multidimensional reality, and our physical bodies operating in the three dimensions. We use the chakra model overlaid with the seven traditional planets and the twelve zodiac signs to explore archetypes essential to our engagement with passion.
Joan: How do your presentations relate to the themes within the art exhibit Passion & Vision: The Skills of Youth?
Allyson: The fire signs embody outward expression and drive. Passion, when used as a fuel, directly pushes one’s vision. Knowing how each of these signs engages passion to move forward with one’s vision is instrumental in how we navigate our life story.
Joan: Of the three Fire signs, Aries is an initiator, the spark that starts a project. Leo is like the sun, warm and steady. Sagittarius is often called the dreamer and philosopher: the fire or torch of knowledge.
Joe: When we’re looking at the chakras, they are interrelated by the masculine (pingala) and feminine (ida) energy currents that run in a serpentine fashion. They crisscross in the spine. If we abstract that image from the chakra model and relate it to the astrological order of the seven planets and twelve signs, that actually is the form of the caduceus, the well-known symbol for Mercury. The caduceus relates to the chakras.
Joan: Yes, the crisscross of the caduceus is the same visual that is used to depict the ida and pingala channels of energy.
Joe: In the astrological ages, Mercury is the ruler of Youth, between the ages of 7 – 14. This is the time the young person is flexible, curious, engaged in development of the mind, seeking a variety of stimuli and learning. Youth is based in the seven chakra system: seven years old is considered the age of reason, when the person is said to be able to distinguish right from wrong. Youth is the time of discovery and development of the powers we all have.
In the exhibit Passion & Vision: The Skills of Youth there were several images related to these astrological concepts. For example, in Christopher Bednash’s Hermiris Arrives into the Spacetime of Our Earth, Hermes is shown descending with the caduceus on a rainbow. The seven colors of the rainbow are the colors of the chakras: red, orange, yellow, green, blue, indigo and violet.
Joan: I love what Chris Bednash said about this artwork in the Exhibit Catalog. (You may know that each exhibit we do has a catalog in which the artists give background information on the artwork.) Chris says:
Hermiris, an imaginary god of the imagination, enters our reality on a Chicago sidewalk. Conceived as the fictitious son of Greek messenger gods, Iris and Hermes, Hermiris comes to this Earth as a herald of the unfolding Age of Aquarius. In the old stories, Hermes, god of shepherds, travelers, thresholds, hinges, eloquence, and exchange, and Iris, bridge between heaven and Earth as goddess of the rainbow, were never said to have had any children together. Yet Hermiris had to imagine himself into the story, for the these are perilous times for this world. With the hubris of arrogant institutions and greed-blinded individuals initiating another era of mass extinction upon Earth, the family of the universe is one where most everyone is now worried about how the Earthlings are managing the transition into the new age. Hermiris is here to remind us that the gifts of Aquarius—free flow of information and ideas, openness, friendship, sister-brotherhood, gender equality, group goals, freedom, eccentricity—are exactly the gifts we need to guide the planetary transformations away from ecocidal corporate kleptocracy and toward sustainable cultures based upon listening and respect. Hermiris posits that what we imagine greatly influences our realities, with stories being the building blocks of dreaming up worlds. Hermiris calls us to imagine beautiful, multi-layered stories, imagine compassion and justice, for the good of all life and future generations, imagine as if our lives depend upon it, because they do.
Joan: Perhaps this imagined Hermiris is a balance of the ida and pingala, the masculine and feminine, that can help us solve the world’s problems.
Joe: There are several other paintings in the exhibit with rainbows.
Joan: Yes, paintings with rainbow colors (which as you say are the chakra colors), include From Many – One; From One – All by Colleen Koziara; Believe by Lisa Nomikos and Destiny by Pat Heydlauf.
I also like the pieces Empowered by Dorothy Graden and Focusing by Mary Burton. Empowered is very Sagittarius-like, with the arrow like the archer and its sense of spiritual power.
Focusing has a man and woman looking at each other, on each side of a spiral of apples. Many people have said this reminds them of the Adam & Eve story. It looks like the woman is more certain of her passion for the man than vice versa! It also has depictions of burning bushes (another fire image) in the background, reminiscent of the Lovers card in Tarot.
Joe: In Babylonian Braile: A Study of the Chakras by Sally Cooper and Robert Pogatetz, there is a caduceus or spiral.
Joan: What is your “passion” in astrology? What do you find fascinating in astrology?
Allyson: My broad passion in studying the language of astrology is a constant drive for personal development, for myself and others. By revealing the spectrum within each of us to embody our highest potential. We don’t know what we’re capable of until we see it. We may encounter it in another person, in examples through literature, or hearing someone relate our birth chart to us. Sharing the gift of vision is an honor and responsibility of any astrologer. I enjoy the generation of a solid question, one that can sink in and unlock perspectives perhaps unthought of up to that point.
Joe: I enjoy studying all aspects of astrology, such as natal, personality, etc. But I’m especially interested in divination – asking what the gods are up to. It is the oldest form of astrology – you are working with a single moment in time, and what has happened before and will come after.
The organization of the human being and the organization of the solar system is the same. It is the Hermetic maxim, “As above so below.” Hermes (Mercury in Latin) is the god of alchemy, astrology, numerology.
Joan Forest Mage is a shamanic healer, teacher and performing artist. She has studied shamanism and healing ritual with numerous teachers, and is the founder and director of Life Force Arts Center. First awakened to energy work through her life-long profession of music and dance, Joan began doing shamanic healing in 1995 and created an extensive Shamanic Training program. She received a Master of Arts degree from School for New Learning, De Paul University, Chicago, with the focus area “Creating Healing Ritual Through the Arts.“
Joe Polise , NCGR IV C. A., is professionally certified astrological consultant/ teacher who loves to share the practical value astrology has for our world. He builds community with other astrologers by serving as an NCGR-PAA examiner, Education Director for NI-NCGR, and VP of Chicago’s Friends of Astrology. Nationally, Joe has taught for NCGR, ISAR, and UAC, SOTA conventions and many regional U.S. astrology groups.
Allyson Reza is a glass and metal artist living in Chicago. Her work focuses on observing the alchemical processes on the physical and metaphysical planes through the study of these materials alongside a long-standing love of Astrology. By learning the rich symbolic language of our world passed down through culture and lineage, she hopes to share from her lens and engage with others in the meaning-making of our collective time.