I wanted to interview Linda Chamlee Black not only because she has been
earning her living by doing astrology for quite some time, but because this
became possible for her in such an interesting way. Don't ever try telling
Linda that prayer doesn't work!
Linda writes a syndicated astrology column for the Chicago Tribune
organization (Tribune Media Service), and writes some of those little
booklets one often finds at the checkout-stands in grocery stores, booklets
giving information about the year ahead for each sun sign. In addition, she
has an active web-presence.
The interview took place a few weeks before the Presidential election, and I
think readers may enjoy measuring what both of us had to say about the
election against the final outcome.
A lot of people assume that you have to be "into" all sorts of somewhat
oddball things in order to be an astrologer, or that you must be a heretic
of some persuasion (anti-science or anti-religion). For the record, though
she is a cheerful person and down-to-earth astrologer, Linda is neither
anti-science nor anti-religion. In addition, she seems like a delightful
person. Read on, and enjoy...
CF: I could tell from your phone number that you live in California, but I thought you were in Chicago because you have a web connection to the Chicago Tribune.
LB: Right, I'm syndicated by Tribune Media Service. They sell the column to newspapers and Internet sites all over the world. I'm not sure, but I think there are about 15 million readers.
LB: So, I get feedback from everywhere now, and it's just totally awesome.
I'm in my eleventh year of writing the column. For the first eight or nine years, the column was only in newspapers, mostly back East. I'm in the West, so I never saw it and I never got any feedback from readers. It was a weird experience.
I live in a little cabin up in the mountains, way far away from everybody. I would sit up here and play astrology, and send the stuff out through the modem, and a check would come in the mail. No comment. It was bizarre. I did that for years. But now that we're on the Internet, I'm getting letters from people all over the world. Even Red China.
At first it scared me to death! It had been such a private thing. I guess I wasn't really admitting that anybody was reading what I was writing. You know what I mean? Because, nobody in town knew what I did. And (laughs) when TMS put the column on the Internet, people at the grocery store started commenting on the 'scopes. At first, I felt like they'd been eavesdropping on my thoughts somehow. But then, I'd think, "you dumb idiot, you're putting it out there, of course people are going to read it." I had never even looked at the stats. I was too shy.
Besides, when I'd think about all those people, it would tend to freeze my brain and I couldn't write a thing for days. I'm getting over that. Now, it's really neat to get the letters. Especially since it's so supportive. I mean, email is so awesome. People are so awesome. I may be going on longer than you wanted in answer to that question.
CF: No, actually it's germane. People feel free to talk on email in ways they don't in person or by letter or by any other way.
LB: It's really true. My relationships with my editors have really blossomed because of the email, too. I do work not only for the Tribune, but also for the Globe, which has now been taken over by the American Media, Inc. I've also been writing the monthly Mini-Mags for years.
CF: I've even gotten a few of those.
LB: I'm not the only one who does those. There are several of us, so they don't put a byline on them. You'd have to recognize the style to know who wrote them. But for many years, every two weeks I'd do a month for the Tribune and then I'd do a different month for the Globe. (The Globe runs about a year ahead). It's a huge amount of work. Kris Brandt Riske has been writing the Mini Mags with me for the past year. She's an excellent astrologer. She works with me on the website too.
CF: How did you get hooked-up into all these newspapers?
LB: It was an absolute miracle that I got this job. It's a great story. I had been an astrologer since the 70's, but just for my friends and family. I was working as a Paralegal in San Luis Obispo in the late 80's, when we decided to buy this property. It's on the California coast, near Hearst Castle, about half-way between San Francisco and Los Angeles.
We're about an hour from town, seven miles up a dirt road, behind two locked gates. We have no city power, no city water, just a gorgeous piece of land that overlooks the middle of the State of California. It's near the ridge line, so we can walk up to the top and look down at about a hundred miles of California coast. On a clear day you can see from Big Sur to Point Sol below Pismo Beach. It's just incredible.
But, it just has a tiny little cabin, a downstairs room with a tiny kitchen and bath, and a sleeping loft. We had to figure out how to do the electricity, water, everything. We now have a generator for power, and my husband has dug out the spring and put in a pump and buried the water lines all the way up to the top of the hill, where we've now got two 5,000 gallon water tanks. We started out with one 750 gallon tank made out of plywood. For heat we have a wood stove. It even snows up here, some winters.
Anyway, when we bought this property I was working as a paralegal in the nearest big town, an hour and half away. I'd leave at 8:00 a.m. and get home around midnight, three days a week. Well, they found somebody who could come in every morning, and that worked better for them, so they let me go.
So, here we were, in this little cottage in the middle of nowhere, and we had just taken on this mortgage, and then I lost my job. I was frantic. When I was all by myself, I just started praying out loud. I said, "God, I give up. You know all and see all, just give me the perfect job for me! Whatever it is, I'll try to do it."
I kept looking, but I was finding nothing. And, all the law offices were an hour and a half away. I was spending all my time driving.
Then, about a week later, the phone rang. A woman from MCI asked me if I would like to write an astrological column. I said, "How did you know I was an astrologer?" She said, "We saw your ad in Dell Horoscope." I had written one ad to do consultations, and had sent it off to Dell about a year earlier. The ad had run six months after that. It had cost me $57. I didn't get any orders from it, so I never ran it again.
This woman had found an old copy of Dell Horoscope, and had read that ad to get my phone number. So, naturally, I said "sure." She said, "we've been trying to get you all week. We need the copy by tomorrow," So, I said, "no problem."
Then I stayed up most of the night, writing her a sample 'scope for each sign. In the morning I drove all the way into town, found a fax machine (they had just been invented), and faxed the copy to her. I think it cost me $5.00 a page.
I got the job, and it paid exactly the same as I'd been making as a paralegal.
So, I said, "Okay God. I don't know why you are setting me up to do this, but I'm willing. Just keep me pointed in the right direction." I have had several things like that happen in my life, but it is always so startling.
I wrote horoscopes for MCI for two years. They had somebody read my text onto a tape, and people would call an 800 line to get the information. They also had a stock market report, and the ball game scores. They called it the Talking Yellow Pages.
Tribune Media Service bought the whole service from MCI in about 1991. At almost exactly the same time -- I am not making this up, honest-to-God -- the astrologer for the Tribune quit. So, they didn't have an astrologer. And, that is how I got the job.
LB: They did not even know me.
CF: Yeah, they had just bought you, though.
LB: Yeah, they bought me. And, they called my references to see if I could keep a deadline, the attorneys that I had worked for said, "Sure, she's okay with that, she's always on time." Then the Tribune said, "Okay fine. You're it."
CF: (Laughs) And so it has just gone from there.
LB: I know, it is just awesome, and I love it. It has been a lot of work, but it is just fascinating. The most common feedback that I get from people is that I am accurate, and I'm very proud of that. We're talking Sun-sign astrology, here, right?
LB: One of the first things I did when I got the job with MCI was to call Doris Chase Doane. She was one of the first people who had encouraged me to be an astrologer. She used to live nearby, in Santa Maria. Anyway, I called her, and I said, "Doris I have no idea how to do this. How can I be anywhere near accurate, using just the Sun signs?"
She told me to put the Sun on the Ascendant. She said that was the traditional way of doing it, and that it would be pretty close to accurate. She also said it was totally reputable. So, that is what I have been doing ever since.
At first, I thought it would only be accurate for people who had the Sun on the Ascendant, but I am finding that these do seem to work for everybody. I guess that the power of the… actually, I am not really sure what is happening. There is still so much I do not really understand about all of this. All I know is that putting the Sun on the Ascendant seems to work, because I get the feedback that I am accurate.
CF: You put it on to the degree like a Sunrise chart or do you put it on in a whole sign or equal sign house?
LB: I have charts for a week done for me, with the Ascendant at 0 Aries, for here in Rocky Butte. I also write a weekly for Tokyo, so I have them done up for there, and the Mini Mags are done for Eastern Standard Time. I can't interpolate in my head, I have to look at the graphic. I have to keep it simple. And, on the website, www.lindablack.com, we give people the transits so they can interpolate for their own time zone.
CF:You mentioned Doris Chase Doane. Who are your other heroes and influences?
LB: Susan Miller of http://www.astrologyzone.go.com, the Disney channel, is wonderful. She's been a great help to me. And the astrologers I work with, Kris Riske and Lee Amato and Stephanie Clement, they are the best. They have been incredibly supportive over the years. I rely on them. They read the transits that are hitting me when I'm freaked out, and they're so amazingly insightful and wise. I would never have made it this far without them.
And, Sophia Mason is awesome. She is just incredible. And, she's another Catholic astrologer, like me. In a class she was teaching she said that when people ask her about that she said, "Heh, I don't write this stuff, I just try to read it. God writes it." I thought, YES! That's exactly how I feel. I'm just trying to read it. And she is so knowledgeable. I just try to keep up with whatever she wants to teach me. Have you seen her newsletter?
CF: No, I have not.
LB: And all the books she's written. She has slowed down a little, because of health problems. But, she is just an incredible astrologer. We were in Chicago at an AFA convention, and she was teaching a class in diurnal. She was looking at the chart for that day, and said, "now, isn't this interesting?" "It looks like there is going to be a little turbulence about two o'clock in the afternoon. I don't know what that will be, but it looks unexpected. We will have to watch and see what that is."
Well, at two in the afternoon a mini-tornado came from nowhere, whacked the hotel, and knocked out the lights. I love that. That is just cool! I wish I could do more of that.
CF: Well, some people call that "sexy" stuff, I do not know the right word is, but it is really amazing stuff. It is always nice to amaze people.
LB: Yeah. She came to class the next day and said, "Wow! Isn't that something? I couldn't believe it either!" That's how I feel when I'm right on. My husband says I shouldn't say that. He says it will lessen my credibility. But, sometimes I really nail it, and I don't know how. People will say, "It's like you've been hiding behind my couch!" I just call 'em as I see 'em. But, he says I should be cool about it, so there's more of a mystique.
CF: I see, "Ignore that man behind the curtain."
LB: Yes, exactly. Anyway, it is fun to be right on, but I'm just trying to interpret what's out there. I am just looking at these little squiggly lines on this piece of paper, and trying to read it like it is a story written in English. When I am rolling, it reads just like that, but when I am not, when I am tired or something else is bothering me, it doesn't. It makes no sense. I am looking at these chicken scratches, and they mean nothing. Those are the times I wish would never happen.
CF: That is the time you fall back on your training.
LB: Yes, you do. You have deadlines to meet, and you do -- you fall back on your training. You say to yourself, that is suppose to mean this and this is suppose to mean that, and so on. You start from ground zero again. But, it sure is fun when it flows.
CF: I knew a high level psychic who worked with Duke University physics laboratories and archeologists and so forth, someone who never made the news and never advertised herself. She said "anybody who claims to be on the money all the time is lying. There are times when you're on and you know it and there are times when you do not have anything, and if you're honest you just say 'I do not have anything.'"
LB: Yes. Exactly.
CF: Even with astrology, which I think stimulates your gift for feeling your place in the universe, sometimes you're in touch with it and sometimes you're not.
LB: I have a friend whom I met at an AFA convention, Adam Chan. He's a Chinese astrologer and a very fascinating person. He is expert at many different ways of accessing the information. He is one of the most brilliant people I've ever had the honor of meeting. He said that when he gets an answer through the I-Ching or any other way, he also does a chart using western astrology to double check. He said it will always be in alignment. I like that idea; it validates all of it. You know what I mean. We're not making this up. The people who are making things up --do not go with those guys.
LB: However, most astrologers are just trying to put some really complicated data together with very few tools. Now, thank God, we have the computer.
CF: "Yeah, thank goodness for that.
LB: Yeah, and I'm sure there are going to be more tools that will validate astrology even more. Do you have the Percy Seymour book?
CF: No I do not.
LB: Well, write that down. The guy's name is Percy Seymour, he is an astronomer from England, and he has a book out linking astrological data with magnetism in outer space. He is an expert on magnetic fields in outer space.
CF: Ah, I am familiar with radio propagation many years ago, is this related with that?
LB: I don't know about that. But, Seymour writes about clouds of magnetic energy around the earth that shift in relationship to the gravitational pull of the planets.
CF: So [that may be] the force that all those people [who want to find a scientific basis for astrology] are looking for.
LB: Right, he postulated that the magnetic fields apparently respond in the same patterns that the astrologers have been writing about. Oppositions, trines, 90-degree angles. When I read that, I just flipped out.
CF: That's awesome.
LB: Yeah, I mean, finally somebody came up with the reason why. We have energy fields right around the earth, not as far away as even the Moon. These energy fields bunch up or spread out in relationship to the gravitational pull of the planets. And, they've always been there. We can't see them, and we didn't have the instruments to track them, until now. But, we were tracking them, by watching the transits of the planets.
LB: This makes sense to me, because for years I have been using the position of the Sun and the Moon to make predictions. Now I'm reading a lot more in the chart, just because I can, but still basically the position of the Sun and the Moon are the big things that are going to hit people. Most of the other transits will be noticeable in different ways, depending on where they are in the individual chart. And, since I can't know where the "at" is for all those people, I can't deal with that. I have to keep it really simple. Anyway, the Sun and Moon are going to have the strongest influence on those magnetic fields, too.
Seymour uses the example of clams. If you dig up some clams in Boston Harbor, and you put them in a little aquarium right there, at the beach, you will notice that they open and close in correlation to the tides. Okay?
LB: They will act just as if they were in the ocean, but they're not, they're in your aquarium. Now, take those same clams to Chicago. At first they'll have jet lag, and they'll sleep for a couple of days. But, when they start opening and closing again, they'll do it as if there were an ocean in Chicago. Or, if the lake had tides.
CF: I hadn't heard that.
LB: Yes, now how do they know? What are they responding to?
CF: They're clams. They don't have a lot of nerve cells.
LB: We wouldn't think so. Actually, we don't know what the hell they have!
LB: We don't, because they have something that is picking up on this, right? They're responding to the gravitational pull of the Moon!
LB: Yeah! And he has a whole bunch of other examples. Another good one is the salmon. The salmon spawn up a little mountain stream, and the little salmon are born and swim down to the ocean. Do you know those guys swim around for like five years in the huge ocean, before they go back up to the same little stream where they were born? To the same pool in that stream! How do they know? How do WE know!? (That's a whole 'nother discussion.)
Anyway, Seymour is suggesting that the salmon were imprinted at birth with magnetic data, a kind of pattern, that's unique to that spot on Earth. And, maybe we are, too.
CF: (Laughs) Yes.
LB: And the thing is, we do respond to our patterns. So, that's why astrology works. Part of it, anyway. That's only the tip of the iceberg. That doesn't really explain how horary astrology can work. How can you answer a question, just from the time and location where it was asked? That boggles my mind. That's where I go straight over to God. God is just trying to tell us, all the time. I see God as a caring universe, the whole universe--all the energy around us and in us, and it cares about us. It's a living entity that cares about us! It is trying to tell us little human beings stuff all the time! And the hardest part is to be able to listen! To get over the fear of having something like that out there, or in here, or wherever it is. Everything/Nothing. That's the only way I can understand horary. A lot of this can be explained scientifically. Some of it requires faith.
CF: Yeah, I think it's like playing multi-dimensional chess-you really cannot do it by lining up Thingy A and Thingy B and Thingy C and then saying, "Oh, okay we have these three things in a line so now therefore we must have another, called Thingy D. I do not think it works that way. It's much too complicated. Even the so-called simple stuff--there are so many orders of symbolism laid on top of one other and influencing one other. It's really quite challenging.
LB: Oh my goodness, and it's the most fascinating thing that has ever been devised. Of course, I don't play chess, so maybe I'm wrong about that. But, to think that people for thousands and thousands of years--I mean, I have done some research on it, and I cannot actually believe the data I came up with. Astrology is as old as civilization on this planet. Older. The Chaldean cultures left stone carvings of astrological charts that we can read today! They had already narrowed down the field of possibilities into the personality types we've named with the twelve signs. They were using some of the symbols that we use today. To have reached that point by twenty thousand years ago... how long before that must they have started? You know, you cannot really say that an alien being told us all this, because over there, in whatever planet they came from, it's not the same as here….
CF: No, this is ours.
LB: This is all ours.
LB: And it just boggles the mind doesn't it?
CF: It does indeed. (Laughs)
LB: (Laughs) My little pea-brain just gets boggled by this stuff! I love it-oh God! (Laughing) But I have to admit that I get pretty tired of doing those same old Sun-sign horoscopes over and over again. I have to admit that is true.
CF: Well it happens in everything that becomes a regular job. At some point it becomes tiresome.
LB: Yeah, it can be a chore to keep it sparkling and fresh and to keep finding different analogies, so that it stays interesting.
CF: Pardon me saying it, but you sound like more a Neptunian than a Uranian astrologer.
LB: What I have is Mercury and Neptune conjunct in the sixth house, in Libra.
CF: Okay, that is beautiful.
LB: So, I am able to talk about philosophical things, and teach them. I also teach the confirmation class at the local Catholic Church for the high school kids.
I also have the Moon and the ascent in Aries. This makes me passionate. And, one of the things that I am passionate about is theology. I guess that's Neptunian. I'm able to explain the unexplainable pretty well. So, that's my job. And with the Sun in Libra, we can see how I was able to work for something like 30 years as first a secretary and then paralegal.
Another interesting thing in my chart is a yod, from Uranus at eight Gemini in the second house, sextile Pluto at eight Leo in the 5th house, to the Midheaven at 4 Capricorn.
CF: Ah, and so your timely intervention and income came at sort of a destiny point.
LB: Exactly. What happened was, when I got that first job with MCI, I was totally freaked out. I immediately signed up for the AFA exam, and went to the AFA convention. I had never been to one before, but I figured I had to get myself certified. I was all self-taught, and I wanted to make sure I was doing it right. And so I studied for months and went, and I took the exam and got through it thank God. Math's my weakest subject.
Then, I went around with my chart in my hand, and every time I would meet a knowledgeable person I would shove it in front of them and I would ask them, "Why did this happen to me?"
Well, at that particular time, which was early '90, Saturn, Neptune, Uranus, even Mars and Mercury, were right up there at my Midheaven, in Capricorn. It was, so.... the time had come. And I had been struggling my whole life with trying to make nickels and dimes into food for the family and things like that. It was just awesome.
The Midheaven is 4 Capricorn, making the yod. off by a little, but it's close enough to have taken effect. Especially with all that other stuff right up there in Capricorn too. I was being shoved out into public view.
In my chart, everything is below the horizon except the Sun and the part of fortune in Libra. They're just barely above the horizon, in the 7th House. But, everything else is below the horizon. So, I like to hide out. I am very passionate about stuff, but I am shy. I have quite a bit in fire signs, but it comes out mostly through my writing.
CF: Yeah, sounds good to me. We are coming close to our time limit, if fact we are a little bit over. Do you have anything to say about this election year? I am not really looking for any specific predictions, but do you have some insight into like Pluto's position in Sagittarius, and how that ties in with the mood of the country?
LB: I was so delighted to see Pluto go over into Sagittarius out of Scorpio! I was expecting all the secrets to start coming out. I think that is happening, and it will continue to happen for this whole transit. We are going to find out the other side of the story about all sorts of things... the Dead Sea Scrolls and the Shroud of Turin and whether or not there are space aliens.
And, all this dirt about the elected officials is coming out. And, we may wonder if we really care, or if it really matters. But, it does matter. This is all part of the debate, and the debate is about ethics and morality, and about how we can best take care of each other. How we can have a world that works, for everybody in it, with nobody left out. I think it is very important to have it all come out in the open. I feel very passionate about politics, and I find it very hard to be objective.
CF: I understand.
LB: One of the most noticeable things about Election Day is a rough grand trine in water signs, and a more stable grand trine in air signs. So I am assuming that people are emotionally driven, but they're also thinking about what they're doing. Mars is trine to Jupiter and Neptune, so people want their dreams to come true. They want abundance, and they want to take action to make sure they get it. So, I think we will have a high turnout at the polls. With all those water signs, we are emotionally driven. So, we might be influenced by scare tactics. But, we're trying to understand what's going on.
CF: So it is very volatile.
LB: Yes. And both Al Gore and George W. have grand trines in fire, air and water with the transits to that day.
CF: Their charts are very similar.
LB: They are, and that is interesting. It is probably going to be close. I mean, they're so similar. One has 7 Leo and the other has 4 Leo on the Ascendant. You know, I have been reading up on this, and there are astrologers who've come up with awesome reasoning for each of them to win. It's coming up about 50/50.
CF: Well, you know, both sides could be wrong.
LB: One of the things that I read recently said that it looked like Gore had smoother sailing, except that there was some sort of danger, deception or intrigue associated with him. If anything else like that comes out right around the time of the election, it might be enough to give Bush the edge. I am looking at both these charts now and I can see both have grand trines going to the Midheaven. They are so similar! I hate when this happens.
CF: It will either be real close or someone will come from the outside, either Pat or Ralph, and really surprise people.
LB: I don't have the data on Pat or Ralph. But, I think what they would do is drain energy from these guys.
CF: Yeah, that is what a lot of people say.
LB: Well, we'll see. Thanks a lot, Clarke, for giving me the opportunity to wax eloquent. You have a fabulous magazine, and it's a great honor to talk with you. The Matrix programs and reports are the best. I couldn't do my work without them.
Reach her at www.lindablack.com, where she and her associates provide individual consultations and reports. By e-mail: Linda@Astrologers-Online.com.
Copyright: Matrix Software