Matrix Interview with Astrologer Buz Overbeck
Our interviewer is Michael Erlewine January 1, 2009
Erlewine: First, are you willing to share your birth data with our readers and if so, please tell us what it is.
Overbeck: October 12, 1937 11:47pm Santa Monica, California
Erlewine: How did you get interested in astrology?
Overbeck: I was working Tucson, Arizona with my jazz/rock group in 1973 when I met an otherwise intelligent girl who was really "in" to astrology. I let her teach me how to draw up charts and interpret them in order to show her how silly the whole thing was. I'm still working on that.
Tucson was a great place for an astrologer to be in the 1970s. American Astrology magazine was there, complete with Donald Bradley (Garth Allen), Ken Irving and his wife at that time, Lee. Also, Carl Payne Tobey lived just outside of town in the desert. I remember stopping by the AA office one day when everyone was very excited. They had just timed something to the minute using the PSSR (progressed sidereal solar return). It was something of a breakthrough at that time.
Erlewine: Who did you learn from, what books or schools of astrology?
Overbeck: With the basics under my belt, I got started by adopting Alan Leo as my personal savior. He had an incredible set of volumes on all aspects of astrology. He covered the basics of interpretation but also got into some pretty heavy calculation stuff, like primary directions, house systems, etc.
Of course, being in Tucson, I found myself getting more interested in Cyril Fagan's sidereal system (he passed in 1970). I started working with all of the different sidereal techniques outlined in his primer and articles in AA.
A couple of years later I became interested in Uranian astrology. I called Hans Niggeman in New York to ask him a couple of questions. We ended up speaking for over an hour and he generously sent me all of his books, as well as some articles and the complete set of Richard Svehla's correspondence course. From that point on I was hooked.
Erlewine: Have you had teachers or mentors and, if so, who are they and tell us something about their influence. Is there a sense of any lineage in your astrological education?
Overbeck: No mentors, teachers or lineages. However, in 1976 I bought one of the new Hewlett Packard HP97 programmable calculators which vectored me off into another direction. I started programming some astro routines and developed a nice library. From this, I did form some long-lasting relationships with like-minded people. I hooked up with James Neely and Michael Erlewine after seeing some of their programs in the HP catalog. Neely and I converted many of our programs for Matrix. These relationships exist to this day.
I also did some work for Charles Jayne who, although I didn't know him well, left a lasting impression as a great, open and compassionate man.
Erlewine: What type of astrology do you do? What techniques do you use and what techniques really work for you?
Overbeck: I work with many different systems but try not to mix them. I try to stay true to the system I'm working with. I've become convinced that it's counter-productive to mix systems. That is, if I'm working with Uranian I try to stick to Witte's system and not cross mix western sidereal methods. I've never had consistent results using the transneptunian planets with sidereal solar or lunar returns. So with Uranian I stick with solar arc.
If I'm working with Hindu astrology (Joytish, or Vedic (sic)) I stay within that system. I use their 7 planets, whole house system and rulerships. I try to keep it simple and avoid all of the amsa charts, multiple lagnas and other complicated things. Just the basic chart and the Vimshotarri Dasa system. I've had good luck with that system when I properly applied it. For predicting I will use the Varshaphala chart which is the Hindu solar return. In that case I'll use the Hindu methods of interpretation.
I'll also use western solar and lunar sidereal returns, using the methods of that system: angular planets, no houses, tight orbs. But my go-to system analysis is the Uranian system with solar arc and transits.
Erlewine: Have you created any new techniques in astrology and what are they? Do others know about and use them also?
Overbeck: In the '80s in Dallas, I founded the National Society for Numerical Studies. It was a large group of local numerologists, astrologers and others seriously interested in numbers and their application with a heavy emphasis on number theory and different number systems. We did some interesting statistical studies, presentations and hosted touring numerologists when passing through Dallas.
I developed a chart called the Enneascope which was a 9-fold house system measured clockwise from the ascendant in the prime vertical. The planets are mapped in the usual way but the houses are delineated by their number rather than by their sign.
I also introduced the Name Harmonic chart, where the number equivalent of the name is found in the Mod(12) system. Then a harmonic chart of the radix is created based on the resulting name number.
These techniques were mainly for numerologists who wanted to work with astrology as they found it easier to relate to the number symbolism than the signs.
Finally, I use a custom Solar Arc that I developed and have had good luck with. I'd tell you what it is, but I'd have to kill you.
Erlewine: What do you personally use astrology for in your life and how often do you consult it?
Overbeck: My main interest in astrology currently is exploring new techniques and testing old ones. I seldom look at my chart or the charts of family and friends unless I'm specifically asked to do so.
Erlewine: Have you done readings for others? If so, what techniques work best and how often do you do readings? Do you want clients to contact you now for readings?
Overbeck: In 1975 I moved to Ft. Lauderdale, Florida and did readings professionally for about a year. I continued to do readings when I moved to Dallas in 1976. However, I gave up doing readings professionally because maybe 2% of the clients I had really wanted to work with their chart, while the rest were just wanting to be read to. These were the one's that came from the Tarot reader to the Astrologer and then on to the Palmist. I got tired of being congratulated for predictions I never made. Guess I just attract the wrong kind of clientele.
Additionally, I came to think that I had no right to say something that might influence a person's life pattern using a system that has no basic foundation. It seemed dangerous and arrogant.
Erlewine: Have you been to gatherings, conferences, etc. on astrology and how were they? Are you a social astrologer or a lone wolf?
Overbeck: Early on I went to conferences but gave up on them. Got tired of hearings things like "I have Pluto in Cancer and you know what that means!!!!!". I never knew what that meant, other than they were old, so I stopped going.
I am not a social astrologer. Definitely a lone wolf.
Erlewine: What are your connections to professional astrologers? Do you belong to any astrological organizations?
Overbeck: My connections to professional astrologers have mainly be focused around the development of computer programs. Consequently, those that I've had the most contact with are technical astrologers and programmers.
Erlewine: What are your thoughts about the state of modern astrology and astrologers?
Overbeck: I'm really disappointed about the current state of affairs. It was thought in the late 1970s, when the personal computer became available, that it would be a great thing for astrology. Finally, one could instantly get a chart of the highest accuracy. Imagine! Planet positions accurate to a tenth of a second of arc!! Of course, everyone still uses 10 degree orbs but, still..., a breakthrough. However, that promise has yet to be fulfilled.
No doubt that the state-of-the-art astrology software has been developed by many different vendors. These programs have every technique and method available so that even the beginning astrologer can pull up 24 different house systems, asteroids, centaurs, harmonics etc. So, the technical side of astrology has benefited greatly. However, the interpretive side has not. In fact, I think it has suffered.
In the "old days" of calculating charts and actually drawing it up by hand one became in touch with the chart. A feel about the chart would develop as part of the process. The computer has killed that connection. You can now get a perfectly printed out chart without ever touching anything but the keyboard. Further, these programs can print out lists of positions, aspects, midpoint trees and tables so detailed that you can delineate the chart from the tables without even looking at the chart itself. Finally, if you're really not into interpreting it for your client, you have can have the program print out a natal report that will do it for you, although I have yet to see one that I would use.
Erlewine: Do you think astrology is a predictive tool and if so, how so?
Overbeck: Absolutely! Astrology has always been a predictive tool. That's why most people have taken it up. Most people want to know about their future; heath, love and job prospects, children, etc. In the east, these are major concerns. I see a lot of western astrologers trying to combine psychology with their astrology, going so far as to call themselves "Astro-Psychologists". Many astrologers are moving away from predicting and, in fact, deny even trying. They "forecast", not "predict" and concentrate their readings on counseling the client on the deep, psychological imprints hidden within the chart.
However, there remain western systems that aren't afraid to predict such as the Uranian, Cosmobiology and Sidereal systems. Even so, the Hindu systems remain the quintessential predictive systems of astrology.
Do you identify yourself as an astrologer to others and how do they respond?
Erlewine: Does astrology give you answers for deeply personal questions and quests?
Overbeck: I've had a few readings from astrologers who are known for their expertise and deep insight and haven't had much luck. I don't doubt their sincerity --- they seriously believe that they are right on --- but I didn't find the "astrology" of these sessions helpful. However, spending an hour with a sensitive person who knows how to really listen is always helpful and can be cathartic. That's probably why grief counseling is more effective than astro counseling. In my opinion, that is.
About Astrologer Buz Overbeck
Buz Overbeck has been studying, practicing, programming and teaching astrology since 1972. He is familiar with many different systems of astrology including Western tropical and sidereal, Harmonics, Uranian astrology and Jyotish.
He began programming astrology routines in 1976 when Hewlett-Packard introduced the HP-97, a state of the art programmable printing calculator. Through his association with Matrix, an astrological software company , he was sent an early Commodore PET 2001 microcomputer on which he translated the HP programs and developed many, new programs including the first Hindu astrology program for micros, a complete Harmonic Analysis program and the first menu driven astrological program for microcomputers. His collaboration with other astrologers include Michael Erlewine, Charles Jayne, John Addey and James Neely.
In 1981 he authored “An Introduction to the New Astorolgy - Matrix Seminar Series 1?, as well as articles for many technical journals both East and West.
Buz currently resides in Glen Rose with his wife Joanie where his current focus is on the design of research studies.
Home Page: http://home.valornet.com/overbeck/
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