Matrix Interview with Astrologer Trish MacGregor
Our interviewer is Clarke Fountain May 10, 2001
[This interview is sponsored by Matrix Astrology Software at AstrologySoftware.com]
Fountain: You have written 21 suspense and mystery novels with about twelve of those currently in print. In addition, you have co-written one book about the Tarot and wrote another about dreams; you have two new books on astrology coming out, with two previously published. If my count is right, counting co-authored works, that comes to about twenty seven books - an amazing number, and that's just the ones I can track down. I'm told that there are at least a few others. How do you do it? Have you cloned yourself? Are you a terrifically energetic person, or are you perhaps instead an amazingly disciplined and organized person who makes incredible use of a limited amount of energy?
MacGregor: Let's see, I'm a Gemini so I guess in a sense I have cloned myself. One twin writes and the other twin pitches new ideas.
Fountain: Are you a very energetic person also?
MacGregor: Yes, I am, I guess you could say that.
Fountain: Otherwise I don't see how you could get twenty seven books out - or more.
MacGregor: Well, I do this full time. You can get a lot done in around eight hours a day of writing.
Fountain: I know, I've had jobs where I wrote all day.
MacGregor: Right. You just do it until it's done. I also have a Capricorn Moon, which keeps me pretty focused.
Fountain: Ah! I can imagine. So you have some good discipline to go along with your energy.
MacGregor: Yes, I think so. Also, it's better than teaching! I mean, not wanting to be a teacher, never wanting to go back to that.
Fountain: Is the difficulty with teaching these days more with the administration than with the students, or is it both?
MacGregor: I don't know. My last teaching job was in the early eighties, so I don't know. I've taught everything from elementary school to adults. Adults are easier to teach, but kids are more fun.
Fountain: Has it been difficult to be a writer and raise your daughter at the same time?
MacGregor: Only when she was a baby. I can still remember that we moved when she was about six weeks old and I was on a deadline for a book. She would wake up hungry in the middle of the night and I'd feed her and then I'd be wide awake. I'd just go to work around three or four in the morning while she slept in her carrier next to my desk. But now she's in school so it's not a problem. I still tend to work a lot at night - it's quieter.
Fountain: That makes sense, less mental energy going on.
MacGregor: And also the phone's not ringing, the cats are asleep, and it's just quieter.
Fountain: We have a fellow working here who grew up in Venezuela, and he told me there were a lot of Americans there. I wondered, since you grew up in Caracas, Venezuela, my next question is (if it's not too personal) when and where did you learn English? Or is that the right question?
MacGregor: My father worked for Standard Oil, which was what Exxon used to be called. At the time we were living there, there were maybe 8000 people -there was a big American community. In the early '60s, I think it was in 1963 when they nationalized the oil industry, and a lot of Americans including my parents left. So I was 16, and they settled in Florida. You know South Florida at that time compared to now was practically uninhabited.
Fountain: Yes, my coworker says Miami is now "the third biggest city in Venezuela!"
MacGregor: That's about the size of it. Back then, Caracas was a great place, it was beautiful. Now it's very polluted. But I had a wonderful childhood there, so I can't complain.
Fountain: I was wondering, since you didn't have a Spanish-sounding surname or a first name...
MacGregor: No, my parents were Americans. I had the best of both worlds, getting to live in a foreign country and learn a foreign language.
Fountain: That's great. Most Americans don't have that opportunity.
MacGregor: No, they don't.
Fountain: What motivated you to become a suspense writer? For instance, a lot of authors say "I am a fan of that genre, and I wasn't finding the sorts of books I wanted to read in the bookstores." Were you always brimming over with stories that you wanted to tell?
MacGregor: I never started out classifying myself as anything but a storyteller. I was so naïve about genres when I first started out that I didn't even realize that my first book was a mystery until my editor classified it that way. And I'm not really much of a mystery reader, I mean I like thrillers, I like science fiction, I like things having to do with what I consider to be real mysteries.
Fountain: I gave you two alternatives there: of the two you were more full of stories.
MacGregor: I think so. Really, when you think about it, it's not like you sit down and you've got so many stories - you're facing a blank computer screen. You have to start off with something that kind of encapsulates an idea. At least that's what I do; I'm not sure what other people do.
Fountain: Everybody has their own way into it. I don't think anybody writes an outline, though.
MacGregor: My agent, whom I've been with for about six years, is the first agent I've worked with who really insists on writing an outline for fiction. At first I really had a hard time doing it. Then I found that if I could apply my left brain to the right brain material, it gave me a better structure for the novel. In that way it's very helpful as long as you don't stick to it so closely that you lose the creative thrust for the thing.
Fountain: And you wouldn't write one until you had a really pretty well-developed idea [would you]?
MacGregor: I've gotten three hundred pages into a book and tossed it all out. I might find, for instance, that on page 305 I've written the first page of the book. It can be depressing, but it's part of the process, I guess.
Fountain: Are your books also available in Spanish?
MacGregor: No, none of my books, if you can believe this, are available in Spanish. The Japanese have bought just about every novel I've written. They've sold in France, Italy, the Scandinavian countries, but never to a Spanish-speaking country.
Fountain: Is it a problem with your publisher not pursuing sub-rights aggressively?
MacGregor: No I don't think so. There's probably a huge untapped market in having books in English translated into Spanish for sale in this country. But there doesn't seem to be any kind of distribution system that's uniform enough to make it worth a publisher's while - unless they're really huge best-sellers in English that then are made available in Spanish. And Spain now seems to be doing more of its own original titles. Mexico has a large publishing industry that I don't know much about. Of course authors all want their books published in as many languages as possible, but the Spanish thing has never worked out for me. Maybe it will.
Fountain: When did astrology come into your life?
MacGregor: Well it came into my life before PCs and software like Win*Star, which make the math nonexistent. It used to take me literally hours to put up a chart by hand, and I hated doing that, so I got away from using astrology for a long time. But now I use it to cast charts for the main characters of my books. It gives me a lot of insight into who the person is as a real person.
Fountain: Do you go through the ephemerises and look for somebody who's about the right age or a Pluto that's right or something?
MacGregor: In the novel I have coming out in February, called Vanished, I have a man and a woman who have been involved with each other since they were born, and they were only born two minutes apart (same place, same date, same year). So I thought, how are these two different? I knew they were both going to be Scorpios, but that's about all that I knew. Just intuitively I came up with the Scorpio Sun, and I played around with the birth times until it was all right.
Fountain: That tells me how you use it professionally.
MacGregor: I do use it. I also do charts for people, but that tends to be pretty time consuming.
Fountain: I find it takes at least an hour of preparation to do a half-hour reading.
MacGregor: If not more.
Fountain: That's just an easy introductory reading. If I'm doing progressions and transits and other stuff, it takes a while.
MacGregor: I started writing about astrology because it seemed like a good idea at the time. I also had a weird experience at the time my daughter was born. I was in a room with four other women, and it was about two o'clock in the morning when I heard somebody calling my name. I sat up, looked around, the other women were asleep and the door to the room was sort of half closed. I thought, that's weird, laid back down and it happened again. This time I realized it was an internal voice. So I just shut my eyes and said "okay, whatever this is, make yourself known." I had a very vivid impression of my daughter at age 30 asking for her birth information. I thought "wow," and I gave it to her - she wanted to know where Rob and I were living at the time, I told her that. So then she thanked me and that was it. The whole feeling was that she was doing some type of hypnosis as a subject and was trying to get her birth information for some reason to try and understand what the early part of life had been like. So at that point I realized I was going to have to write about astrology and that the main thing for my daughter was that she was always going to have to know her birth time. That led to Cosmic Kids, and her chart is in there, so if there is ever any question, there it is. But that was the main event that made me realize I had to write about it.
Fountain: That's just an easy introductory reading. If I'm doing progressions and transits and other stuff, it takes a while.
MacGregor: I started writing about astrology because it seemed like a good idea at the time. I also had a weird experience at the time my daughter was born. I was in a room with four other women, and it was about two o'clock in the morning when I heard somebody calling my name. I sat up, looked around, the other women were asleep and the door to the room was sort of half closed. I thought, that's weird, laid back down and it happened again. This time I realized it was an internal voice. So I just shut my eyes and said "okay, whatever this is, make yourself known." I had a very vivid impression of my daughter at age 30 asking for her birth information. I thought "wow," and I gave it to her - she wanted to know where Rob and I were living at the time, I told her that. So then she thanked me and that was it. The whole feeling was that she was doing some type of hypnosis as a subject and was trying to get her birth information for some reason to try and understand what the early part of life had been like. So at that point I realized I was going to have to write about astrology and that the main thing for my daughter was that she was always going to have to know her birth time. That led to [my writing the book] "Cosmic Kids," and her chart is in there, so if there is ever any question, there it is. But that was the main event that made me realize I had to write about it.
Fountain: Wow that's a pretty interesting event.
MacGregor: Yes, it was pretty strange. Other people I tell that to just kind of go "yeah, all right, we know you're nuts, but…"
Fountain: Maybe not so nuts. People just don't talk about that stuff when it happens to them, is all.
MacGregor: And I think it happens a lot to people. Most people don't have anybody to talk about it to, and then, living in the society we live in, so people do look at you like you're crazy.
Fountain: So in other words astrology and these other things haven't really given you a lot of difficulty.
MacGregor: No, they really haven't. I find that professionally, if you're versatile, you have more opportunities. Maybe the only time I've run into problems with astrology per se is when I was collecting some of the birth times and dates for "Cosmic Kids," and would encounter parents who still had that fundamentalist idea that astrology was somehow the devil's work. But that's really been the only time. I mean, otherwise, when you talk to people about their signs or whatever - well, people really like to talk about themselves. So it gives a nice entrance into a conversation.
MacGregor: What's your rising?
MacGregor: You've had your own voices in the night.
Fountain: Occasionally yes, sometimes I wake up at around 5:30 in the morning, and think that someone's calling my name but I look around and no one's awake. It's just something in my inner experience.
MacGregor: There are certain parts of astrology that still baffle me. I only recently got into Astro*Carto*Graphy. I think it's fascinating, and it's absolutely valid. It seems like a lot of my lines are out in the ocean. Its like I'd have to be living on an island…or in a boat. Somebody had asked me - this editor I used to work with - who was thinking of moving to the Southwest and she said "where do you think it would be good for me to live in the Southwest?" So I looked at her chart and looked at the Astro*Carto*Graphy stuff and said "Well, you know, Taos would be good." However, this woman is used to Manhattan, hustle and bustle, and even though the lines might be good for Taos, New Mexico, I don't think she'd be happy there. A lot of times you have to look at the person, too - what would be good for them.
Fountain: People adjust to their harsher aspects, they become part of their backbone, and they don't really want to leave them.
MacGregor: I think some places are more inner-experience oriented than others. You asked how I use astrology in my life. Aside from doing charts for my characters, I use it for everything. When something big happens in my life or in the lives of the people around me, I look for patterns and transits, solar and lunar returns, progressions, eclipses - the whole thing. And patterns have always interested me; it doesn't matter whether it is the I Ching, Tarot, dreams - whatever it is. I feel that if somebody can apply their intuition to a pattern, it doesn't matter where the pattern comes from, if you understand what I mean.
Fountain: I do.
MacGregor: You can even look for patterns in clouds if you have to. It doesn't matter where you apply the focus. In fact, one of the first psychic readings I ever had was with a woman who was a tea leaf reader. This was in college years ago. I never saw anything in tea leaves, and she could see past events, future events… It was amazing the kinds of things she could see.
Fountain: Some people are particularly gifted at that. I've known some people who could look at a chart and come up with an amazingly eloquent story. Mind you, the story didn't necessarily have anything to do with the person being read for but golly, the synthesis of energies they came up with was truly astonishing.
MacGregor: I always envy astrologers who can just start talking. You asked about my chart. In star talk or normal talk or whatever, I'm an early Scorpio rising, with a Sun Uranus conjunction in the eighth house in a T-square to my Capricorn Moon which conjuncts my IC. My tenth house Saturn opposes my Moon at about five degrees and makes a wide conjunction to my mid-heaven. What else? My Mars in Taurus makes a tight square to Pluto in Leo. My Mercury in Cancer in the 9th makes a real tight square to Neptune in the 12th.
Fountain: That's where some of your energy is coming from, then - all those squares?
MacGregor: They say "Oops! Can't take too much time off!"
Fountain: So you don't have a whole lot of trines and stuff.
MacGregor: No I don't. I do have a lot of interesting conjunctions, but I've got the generational pattern Pluto thing. I have my part of fortune conjunct my sun. That's good, I guess. I have Taurus on the seventh house cusp and my husband happens to be a double Taurus with Taurus Rising, so we have mirror image charts.
Fountain: It's good to hear you talk about your chart in this way, because a lot of people think that with all these so-called negative aspects in their charts, their lives are going to be disasters. I haven't found that to be the case.
MacGregor: I haven't either. I have to admit I've found the opposition of Saturn to the Moon to be difficult at times. I think any opposition is kind of tough. On the other hand, you're not given anything you can't deal with. If you have one bad aspect in a chart, there are other things that compensate for it.
Fountain: The rulerships and stuff. There's always an outlet for the energy somewhere.
MacGregor: Yes. I've found that people with a lot of trines tend to have some things come too easily. There's not enough impetus to move. Geminis hate to be still.
Fountain: Yes indeed.
MacGregor: I have a couple of astrologer friends and some of my friends who aren't astrologers try and figure out why some of my fiction has such dark aspects to it. Finally I went to one of my astrologer friends and said "You answer this question." She said "Well, Mercury and Neptune square, Pluto and Mars square." I went "You're probably right."
Fountain: Tell me about your two new books coming up.
MacGregor: Besides the novel, "Vanished," there are two astrology books. One is titled "Intuitive Moon" That really grew out of my fascination with intuition - the same stuff we're talking about concerning patterns. And I always felt that intuition was something everybody had, but because it tends to be down played - in the Western world anyway - we repress it. And when I started doing charts for people I knew were intuitive, I began to notice (there it is again) the patterns. So that's really how that book came into being.
Fountain: So you look not only at the Moon's signs and houses, but also at relationships to the moon?
MacGregor: In "Intuitive Moon" I cover it all, the aspect, the houses, the rulerships. But it always comes back to the Moon. One of my editors has an unaspected Moon - totally without aspects. I don't know her really well, but I sense about her that there's a part of her that can't find expression. I used to think that with unaspected planets the planet in question didn't need expressing, but I don't think that's true anymore. I've met too many people with unaspected planets who don't know how to express whatever that planet is.
Fountain: Well, a fairly famous astrologer, Marion March, who is featured with a number of articles on our web-site has, I believe, an unaspected Mercury. [Note: Ms. March's writings make it clear that when she says a planet is unaspected, she means "Has no Ptolemaic aspects within orb to any other major planet." Obviously, if the aspect set is increased or the orbs are increased every planet will have aspects of one kind or other.]
MacGregor: Now that's hard to believe.
Fountain: That's a fascinating thing to have if you have the command of multiple languages and have written many books and you lecture and communicate regularly. She says that sometimes an unaspected planet is heightened rather than diminished.
MacGregor: That makes sense. I have a Jupiter that's unaspected except to one of the asteroids, but it doesn't seem to hurt me.
Fountain: Well you sound like a pretty optimistic person. Anybody who wrote that many novels before getting a first publisher has got to have some optimism.
MacGregor: The other forthcoming book "The Lotus and the Stars: The Way of Astro-Yoga," is actually a system of yoga that my husband and I created. He's the yoga teacher, not an astrologer. For a long time we were kind of puzzled that our interests remained so separate. As a Taurus, yoga is perfect for him; for me, a Gemini, astrology is perfect. Then one night I heard him talking to another yoga instructor about the Moon salutation and I said "the what!" So we started talking about it and that's where Astro-Yoga came into being because we realized that there were certain yoga postures that could be associated to certain Sun signs.
Fountain: I know there's the Sun salutation, I've done it.
MacGregor: Right. And that's Leo. I mean, there's no question. And we realized that by doing the postures associated with particular signs, you could more or less pull in the energy of those signs.
Fountain: So it's sort of like the Vedic astrologers do things to heal the energy of certain difficult planetary configurations; you can do that with yoga.
MacGregor: Right. Absolutely. Rob's been teaching Astro-Yoga for about five years now and it really does seem to work. Basically you're using your body as a conduit of visualization. First you do the form, which is the postures, and then you do the intent. So, the Fish posture belongs to Pisces, the Sun salutation to Leo, the Moon salutation to Cancer. There are some things that fall right into the Sun signs.
Fountain: Patterns again.
MacGregor: Yes. If you have a birth chart that's weak in a certain element or a certain modality, a certain posture can balance a weakness or lack of whatever it is.
Fountain: And that will tend also to address your health issues.
MacGregor: That's right. So I think this book was fun to do. It won't be out until May 2001, but the publisher is enthusiastic about it. It was a fun book to do and the response to this has been good in his classes. What I find interesting is that you can take a birth chart and personalize a workout for somebody based on the chart or on certain issues or situations in their lives that they want to address. You asked about my astrological heroes. There are so many of them. I love Rob Hand's books, Charles Jayne, Marion March's stuff, Noel Tyl, Martin Schulman, Jan Stiller. Every book I've ever picked up on astrology has given me something. Even though Sydney Omarr's books deal strictly with Sun sign archetypes, there's a lot there to learn.
Fountain: It's not easy to write meaningfully about that.
MacGregor: Yes, I think he does real well with that. And with somebody like Rob Hand - his work is so dense it's almost like you have to study it for several years before you can take out the little kernels that relate to you. It's just amazing the amount of astrology books coming out. I can remember thirty years ago when I'd walk into a bookstore and I couldn't find anything. I think now it's gone a lot more mainstream. Now you can find astrology on virtually any subject. I finally feel like I'm living in the right time [period]. I'm working on a book about magic and spells, another book on astrology and creativity and then I've got another novel to write.
Fountain: An astrology book on creativity?
MacGregor: That'll probably be looking at the sun, moon, and Jupiter and Venus aspects. I'm looking forward to it.
About Astrologer Trish MacGregor
Trish MacGregor was born and raised in Caracas, Venezuela. Before she became a full-time writer in 1983, she worked as a prison librarian, a Spanish teacher to hormonal seventh graders, and English teacher to Cuban refugees, a teacher of English as a second language, a travel writer and an astrologer.
As T.J. MacGregor, Alison Drake and Trish Janeshutz, she is the author of 21 suspense novels. The most recent, Vanished, will be published in 2001 by Pinnacle Books. As Trish MacGregor, she is the co-author of Power Tarot and The Everything Astrology Book, Your Cosmic Kids, and Your Intuitive Moon, to be published in December 2000. She also co-authored The Lotus and the Stars with her husband, Rob MacGregor, which combines astrology and yoga. It will be published in 2001.
She lives in South Florida with her husband, daughter, and a variety of animals.
Trish MacGregor is the author of 20 thrillers and five nonfiction books. Her most recent astrology book is "Your Cosmic Kids: Using Astrology to Understand Your Children."
Her e-mail address is: email@example.com
To order the book, "Your Cosmic Kids: Using Astrology to Understand Your Children": Buy at Amazon!
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