Review of the 41st Annual Conference of the Astrological Association: The World in Transit

18th to 20th September 2009, Wyboston Lakes

AA members can look back on the AA Conference of 2009 as one of the most successful in years. Before the conference had begun accommodation in the main conference centre had been totally booked out! Word had spread that we were back at Wyboston Lakes, the venue that had proven to be so popular with our delegates in 2007. Even better news is that the next two conferences will also be at this comfortable and luxurious venue.

The standard of speakers was of the usual excellent quality. Deborah Houlding's masterclass was fully booked in advance - the lucky attendees were not disappointed with her clear, deep insights into traditional astrology, nor her fascinating plenary sesson on fixed stars at the end. Rob Hand's interpretation workshop expanded into the main conference room for more space. His plenary on science and astrology and Nicholas Campion's on Kepler made vitally important statements for the nature of astrology. Pam Crane's plenary held delegates intensely focussed on her range of complimentary zodiacs. Mike Harding.insights amazed with numerous understandings of the nature of time. The Sunday lunchtime symposium on the astology of the "World's Socio-Economic Future" was crowded with excellent delegates' comments from the floor. The split sessions were so popular that only a few people missed one.

One highlight of the conference is always the presentation of the Charles Harvey Award, named after the AA's former President and awarded annually to an individual who has made a significant contribution to astrology, whether in scholarship, teaching or voluntary service - or a combination of all three. Nominations for the award are received from all the schools and societies in the Advisory Panel for Astrological Education, who then vote for the successful nominee. This year there were two nominees, AA President Roy Gillett and Deborah Houlding, both of them very deserving candidates. Roy was the winner, and we congratulate him for an honour which represents thirty years of writing, speaking and a truly prodigous amount of organisational labour on behalf of astrologers. The presentation of the Award is always followed by the annual Carter Memorial Lecture, which this year found John Frawley courageously questioning the entire notion of ‘tradition’, as in traditional astrology. Next year's lecture will be delivered by Deborah Houlding.

Read what AA member Alex Trenoweth has to say about the conference:

Unusual for a high school teacher, I look forward to September. Not, of course, because I can't wait to be up to my neck in marking, but because September means the AA Conference is just around the temporal corner. The AA conference isn't just about attending lectures and listening about arcane techniques. The best parts of the conference take place outside of the main lectures because it gives you a chance to see what’s happening in the world of astrology.  That’s not to say the conference didn’t have an impressive line-up!  This year’s conference speakers were a mix of oldies but goodies as well as a few new faces such as Elizabeth Hathway who was visiting from Holland. As always, the delegates list was a cosmopolitan combination of excited beginner and experienced practitioner.  In particular, it was wonderful to have such a large delegation from Japan. It was a wonderful testament to astrology’s ability to unite people.

Between lectures is not only a great time to grab a cup of liquid refreshment but an opportunity to visit the exhibition area and bookshop. To be honest, I try to keep my wallet at home when I know I’ll be visiting a bookshop (Venus in Gemini) but I always splurge a little at the conference because with the variety of books available to buy, there really is something for everyone. ;Glenda Cole and I, with our polar opposite approaches to hair care, even found a book on astrological coiffures.

The exhibition area is filled with opportunities to stay connected to the people you have met and to view demonstrations of the latest astrological software advances. It's also a great place to meet the author of the books you have just bought and to check out the various courses on offer.

On a more earthy note, the premises of Wyboston Conference Centre was a familiar one. Tucked away in the Bedfordshire countryside and located far away from noisy traffic, the weekend felt like a well earned break. If anyone got tired of astrology (!), they could always enjoy the leisure activities on offer: golf, a fitness club, a water sports centre or even fishing on the lake.

The best part of the conference for me is always the Saturday night dinner. I love to see everyone dressed up and smiling and talking astrology over the sirloin There's just something absolutely magical about a stellium of astrologers filling a room with their conversations. Listen closely and you can hear of someone's plans for their next book or lecture or a newbie tentatively asking about a dreaded transit. I'm always honoured to be in the company of such wonderfully interesting and generous people.

I have to say I had a little chuckle when I saw that the chart of the conference opening had a Jupiter, Chiron and Neptune conjunction in Aquarius in the first house. If anyone was in need of a little healing, they could just ask the astrologers at the bar. Not that I really noticed.

Alex Trenoweth is an AA member

Details of the 2010 Conference