An Interview with the Astrological Journal editor: Carole Taylor
by Sue Farebrother
SF: I see that the featured sections of the first two editions of the Astrological Journal that you have edited this year were 'Myth, Symbol and Imagination' (Jan/Feb), and 'Classical Perspectives' (Mar/Apr). May we know the featured section for the May/June edition? Do you have a plan for featured sections in the following editions? Do you plan far ahead with ideas for content?
CT: The Special Feature for the May/June issue is 'Astro*Carto*Graphy and Local Space', with articles by Erin Sullivan, Robert Currey and Gloria Roca, which I hope Journal readers will really enjoy. I am indeed planning each issue well in advance, to ensure a good mix of subjects over the year - I have the Special Features for all the 2014 issues mapped out. But then, I'm a Gemini with a Stellium in Virgo, so I like to plan!
SF:How has your experience of being the editor been so far? What do you find most enjoyable? What are the challenges of this new role for you? Is this job as you expected it to be or have there been any surprises?
CT: I consider it a real honour to have been chosen for this role. The AA is at the very heart of the astrological community, in the UK and beyond, and the Journal is at the heart of the AA - magazine publishing is always fast-paced because you have to ensure you deliver on time, with great content and design, so it is always going to be hard work; but there is also huge scope for creativity and new ideas, which keeps a Gemini happy. Being in touch with so many talented astrological writers is certainly one of the highlights. And I have a great team of dedicated people - Colin Burns (layout and design), Ian Tonothy (copy-editing), and we have two new recruits on advertising and distribution - they are all very professional and a joy to work with.
SF: Do you generally commission astrological writers for particular editions? I imagine some articles are from astrologers who simply submit them for consideration - is there a set of guidelines for articles?
CT: We do have writers submitting articles on spec, yes - and there's a set of Writers Guidelines available on the Journal page of the website for anyone wishing to submit an article. Well-written articles are always welcome, and you don't need to be a professional to be published - just a very good writer and astrologer with something interesting to say. But generally I am pro-active in planning each issue and contacting the best writers - each issue needs to field a variety of subjects, styles and astrological voices, so I'm actively working to try and create that.
SF: The Journal helpfully provides a Watching the Sky section at the back, noting ingresses, major aspects and so on for the coming two months. Are there likely to be any future articles on the astronomy that underlies astrology, whether that is a regular column or an occasional article?
CT: I'm trying to vary The Last Word page, so that readers don't get bored! So I won't always list every astronomical event, but will try to focus on the important things so that we can remind ourselves of the imaginative and symbolic connection to the sky which astrology gives us - the myths and stories which arise from astronomical phenomena, such as the Venus cycle and the myth of Inanna in the underworld, or the importance of the equinoxes and solstices in shaping the tropical zodiac. I think it's important for astrologers to be aware of the astronomy which underpins our art, so I have a plan to introduce a regular feature on astronomy, which would also include the kind of cutting-edge discoveries you mention here - it's an idea patiently waiting for a writer.....!
SF: Can you say something about your previous experience as an astrologer, writer and/or editor?
CT: Well I have to confess that this is the first time I've edited a magazine like the Journal! But I'm very much involved with the Faculty of Astrological Studies - I'm currently the Director of Studies and Summer School Organiser there, as well as being a distance-learning and London classes tutor. So a lot of my time is devoted to teaching, which I particularly love, and to helping to run the Faculty, and I guess I first learnt my craft in terms of writing and editing through my contribution to the Faculty's substantial body of course material. Outside of that, I see clients too - this is where you really see astrology coming to life, in the experiences recounted by clients in the consulting room, and this aspect of our work never ceases to excite and astound me. There is always so much to learn!
SF: What kind of role do you see the AA and its Journal playing in the astrological community?
CT: I see the AA as the central pillar around which everything revolves. It is easy to take something like this for granted, particularly when it has been around for so long, but I cannot imagine astrology in the UK without the AA - as I said before, it lies at the heart of the community, unique in its ability to bring all branches of astrology and all types of astrologer together. And let's face it, astrologers are an eclectic bunch!
You see this 'gathering together' graphically every year with the Conference, and I would see the Journal as a written version of the Conference in this respect - a place where the vast riches of astrology, all the ideas and thinking, old and new, can be collated and presented. Through the AA's Conference and Journal, the endless wonder of astrology and endless creativity of astrologers finds a fitting home.
SF: How do you see the place of astrology in the 21st century - do you have a personal opinion as to whether interest in serious astrology has grown or otherwise since the last decades of the 20th century? Do you have a sense of where astrology is heading, or ideas of how astrology needs to evolve or grow?
CT When I look at the AA Conference or at the Faculty's annual Summer School, it seems to me that serious astrology is as strong and as confident as it ever was - and, as a tutor what I particularly see is increasing depth, seriousness and commitment in those who opt to learn this subject; with each passing year, I believe the bar is raised with regard to the intelligence and skills which students bring to their studies, which can only strengthen all the schools and organisations. In terms of wider society, we are still marginal of course - but I don't see this as a negative thing because I view astrology as a wisdom tradition. For anyone working with it on a regular basis, an understanding of it emerges slowly over time, through seeing the symbols at work in one's own life, and this slowly creates change from within - as such, I would see astrology as an esoteric subject, with all that this implies about deeper personal work, apprenticeship, learning your craft and developing self-awareness. As an astrologer, I'm not at all bothered if non-astrologers don't take our subject seriously - my main concern is that astrologers themselves should be true to their art and act with integrity, and I'm fully convinced that, if we do this, astrology with not only survive but will go from strength to strength.
I am currently doing the new MA in Myth, Cosmology and the Sacred at the University of Christ Church in Canterbury, with Geoffrey Cornelius and Angela Voss, and it has brought me into contact with a wide range of creative and spiritually-orientated people - and it has convinced me that there are many intelligent non-astrologers out there who are sympathetic to the astrological philosophy and interested to find out more. With all the wonderful work which has been done in the last few decades, particularly in the academy but also in the astrological community - I'm thinking here of the ground-breaking psychological astrology of Liz Greene, the incredible work of Nick Campion and Bernadette Brady on the pioneering Sophia MA at Trinity St Davids, the fabulous Rick Tarnas at Esalen and the California Institute of Integral Studies, Rob Hand's outstanding scholarship, to name just a few - I think astrology is well-placed now to make fruitful connections with other academic, scholarly and creative communities. I see astrology in the 21st century becoming a deeper, truer, and more personally enriching experience for those involved in it, a route to self-knowledge and to the kind of spiritual reconnection which contemporary society is so sadly lacking in - but I also see it reaching out to other communities beyond its borders and making fruitful connections there.
And for astrology to continue to evolve and grow, I think we just need to do our work seriously and with commitment, mindful that, no matter how much we know, astrology will always have something new to teach us.