Matrix Interview with Astrologer Jeff Green
Our interviewer is Michael Erlewine November 1, 1985
Dialogue with Jeff Green and Michael Erlewine
The following is an extract from a conversation between Michael Erlewine and astrologer Jeff Green of Seattle, Washington. The dialogue was videotaped at the Matrix Heart Center in Big Rapids during the fall of 1985. At the time, Green had been very active on the lecture circuit and his new book, “Pluto: The Evolutionary Journey of the Soul” was just about to be available from Llewellyn Publications. The rest is history. Jeff Green and “Evolutionary Astrology” became a massive hit in the astrological community.
Erlewine: I would like to know how you became an astrologer?
Green: The way I became an astrologer is this: I spent a period of time in a monastery in California, a Vedanta monastery. At that time, I had a very dim view of astrology. I had what I call spiritual arrogance. I had a teacher that said, “Look, you can’t have these opinions without studying what you don’t understand.” He gave me a book, and I read two pages and had a great vision. The vision told me I would be an astrologer, much to my horror. There were many other things in that vision: opening up to relationships, leaving the monastery, and so forth. And I knew it was true. This was when I knew I would be an astrologer.
At this point, I didn’t know a thing about astrology. So I said, “Lord, if you want me to be an astrologer, teach me astrology.” And for a series of years, the Lord gave me a dream every night in which he taught me astrology.
Erlewine: What kinds of things did you learn? You report yourself to be totally self taught…everything came from inside. Obviously, everyone out here would like to know how that was possible. How did it come? What are some of the things you saw?
Green: Well, as an example…just for the sake of examples, I would have a dream about the nature of Venus. I would be taught all the correlations of Venus: what Venus correlated to in human nature, in life…at all levels, as a basic principle. I would be shown it in a variety of culminations, and signs and so forth. This process was accelerated by the fact that I would translate this into my waking life.
Wherever I would find myself in the world, I would simply put out a flyer advertising free charts. You never find a lack of clients when it is free. This is how I would translate what I found in my dreams into reality. I would actually talk to people, observe people, and do the traditional astrology…which is observation and correlation. As that process deepened over time, the dreams deepened. I would find myself with questions at a conscious level, after doing readings in my waking life. Those questions would invariably be answered in the dreams. That went on for a period of years
When I approached my Saturn return, I found myself in Seattle, Washington. On that day, I was walking down the street in Seattle…it happened to be on a Sunday when everything was closed. There was a new astrology store there, Astrology Et Al, which is owned by a woman named Margaret. I looked in the window, and she was standing there with her husband. She asked me in, one thing led to another, and I started working there and became a professional.
I believe it was around 1976. From that day forward, I started to make a living doing astrology. Of course, for all of us the first few years can be an infinite struggle to make a living. But as the years have gone by, every year has brought an increasing work load. And along with that comes the money. That is how I found myself as an astrologer.
Erlewine: So at this point in time you are doing full time astrology, and you have for quite a while.
Green: Yes, I have been a full time astrologer since that point. Since that point, the workload has increased to the point that I now do seven or eight charts a day, and teach at night. For the last few years, I have been traveling in the U.S. and Canada doing lectures and workshops. That of course has itself been increasing. Now I have written a book on Pluto, and that will be coming out shortly.
Erlewine: Some of the things I think you should share with the readers are the ideas you shared with us yesterday. The time you spent studying with the Native American is really interesting, and also, tell us a little about your experience in Viet Nam, and in that cave you mentioned.
Green: At one point in my life, I found myself in the Viet Nam war via the U.S. Marine Corps. It was a very severe experience for me. It was during the height of the war, the Tet offensive and so forth. I experienced lots of death. I was a very young boy; I was nineteen. Very angry. At the end of my time there – after a series of experiences, actually – in the last week I was there, I found myself in a Buddhist monastery which was carved out within a mountain.
There was a Theravadin Buddhist monk that I knew, who did not speak English, and of course I did not speak Vietnamese, except for swear words. We had a conversation for eight hours. It was telepathic in nature. At that point in my development, I was not aware of what was happening. In hindsight, I can see what he imparted in me. He penetrated what I call the soul. He seemed to really know me, as great ones do, and imparted the instruction for my life – awaking my consciousness.
As it turned out, after I got back from Viet Nam I found myself acting. I found myself making decisions that were not based on simple ego planning or ego decisions. I just acted. I traveled the world for a couple of years to find out what it all meant.
At a certain point I found myself living with the Navaho in New Mexico. For those who know the Indians, they are not that open to white people. I think most of us can understand that. But I was initiated into their religion. This included peyote initiation, and many, many openings occurred within me with respect to that tradition; including what I have learned to call the vision of the blackbird. This involves being able to see the spirit in all things: the spirit of the earth, the spirit of the plants, the spirit of the animals, the spirit of the river. It involves developing a natural ability to dialogue or commune with the spirit of all things; which in Sanskrit are called devas. Very powerful!
Cooperation among Astrologers
Erlewine: We are talking about the idea of cooperation between astrologers, and the state of modern astrology. We have mentioned the fact that astrologers as a group, at least in this country, have very generous egos, and are often quite competitive. A lot of this, we can all agree, comes out of the insecurity that we feel by not having our profession recognized as a right livelihood by the general populace. There is paranoia and fear that comes out of being impoverished and having our livelihood constantly reduced to a game – or form of entertainment – when that is not how we perceive it. So, given the fact that we have some fragile egos, your message, Jeff, seems to be one that I endorse…one of cooperation – to operate together. How do we do that? What are your suggestions?
Green: Well, my feeling is that we should start from the point of acknowledging that all of us have an identity, all of us have values, all of us have beliefs at all levels of reality, in all walks of life. They are unique to ourselves, and relevant to ourselves, and are certainly part of our natural and legitimate life journeys. If we narrow this down to astrology, this must be true. Wouldn’t it be a better situation for all of us as astrologers to acknowledge the legitimacy of everybody else’s work, everybody else’s point of view, and working with that, acknowledging it, facilitating, it, enhancing it – rather than putting it down, or having to shape it or alter it, in order to justify our own. This only props up the ego. It only promotes polarization. I agree with your assessment. Astrology, at least in our world, is an inherently insecure profession simply because of the impact of astronomers and scientists who use utterly wrong rationales to put it down. They haven’t even bothered to test it.
Erlewine: I cannot blame the state of astrology and astrologers on the fact that astronomers and scientists have made fun of us – ridiculed us. Isn’t it true that had we been able to be of more service to our society, then we would be more accepted, and might be making more money, etc? The fact is that astrologers…I think that there is a great something missing in us, something we are not providing in the way of service to society. It is our responsibility and our fault that we are not getting the money and the standardization.
I feel at this point quite a lot of us would be willing to take our place along with the doctors and lawyers and Indian chiefs and be a part of a society. But instead, we exist as a fringe group – a very definite minority. When I went to get a bank loan once for my first little computer, I didn’t get the loan, but they made it very clear to me that when they checked the list of occupations, astrologers were directly above migrant workers in terms of risk. That’s interesting. That’s a fact. That shows you how much the establishment thinks of the reliability of who we are and what we have to say.
I have to ask myself the question, and I have for years, What is missing? Is a lot of what we are doing pipe dreaming? Yes, we should support each other’s work. In astrology it is very definitely true that what works for me migh tnot work for you. We respect the right for you to have a different house system and so on. But I think that there is another level of standardization where the critical faculty should be brought into line and brought to bear on the whole thing. We should be critical of ourselves at least enough to say, “What is missing?” If we are so darnn good, and so damn “of the moment”, why can’t we deliver? What aren’t we delivering?
Green: To me this means that there is an intrinsic insecurity within the profession that was developed within the last two or three hundred years in western society. Progressively the astrologer has been relegated to this buffoon-like comic, a ludicrous role, from the western science point of view. Therefore, there is an inherent insecurity in the profession of astrology. This creates the effect of feeling threatened or defensive about anyone else’s point of view.
Erlewine: Sure, when we spoke yesterday, one of the things I mentioned to you was that, put crudely, when astronomy and astrology parted company (since astronomers used to be astrologers, and astrologers used to be astronomers) maybe the astrologers got away with the mystical good looks – the peaks and visions – and astronomers got away with the discipline and training. For the most part, until this generation, astrologers have been without mathematics entirely.
When we get to understanding the astronomy part of it, I am afraid the average astrologer has been absolutely devoid of any interest in looking at the outer sky –which I can support. I am not particularly interested in looking at the outer sky myself. But most astrologers have no understanding of the structure of what’s out there; of what a star actually is, or what the life of a star is, or anything. Even though everything we do is about stars, about the lives and deaths of stars..
We have to wonder what astronomy – which is very disciplined, and very old (I think next to botany, it is the oldest of all the academic professions, and also very fossilized and very conservative) has going for it. What can we do to find out what it is we lost, if anything, in terms of discipline and training? How can we reintegrate that, so we are a whole being again? I really believe that we are not a whole being. At least I can speak for myself.
I have spent a good twenty years studying the stuff and getting progressively more technical. I have learned mathematics. I have learned enough astronomy, I have learned computer science, and so forth, in order to try to get at the heart of technique, as if there was a technique…as if by perfecting the various tools at my disposal, I could find a tool that was powerful enough to give me the kind of results that would then allow me to give society something that was so significant that they would have to say, “Ah ha, you guys really are useful…just like going to the doctor. We need you.”
Instead, what I find is that I do not find any technique in either my own repertoire or the repertoire of others that is that strong. I have been reduced to the one thought that never even occurred to me, which is the fact that I have spent about spent zero time on self discipline. I never questioned that I was ready, that I myself was a good instrument or even a trained instrument. I am now openly questioning the rest of astrologers as I am questioning myself. I’m saying “we really have not got much formal training in serving society.” We have no lineage. Our organizations as a rule are a kind of joke. Even the grand British one, The Astrological Association, is very loosely organized in the sense of a rigorous passing down of knowledge from generation to generation. I am at that point. After all these years, I am back to saying I must start at the beginning again – toward training myself in how I present astrology to others.
Green: I think you have identified the key issue. We can use the analogy of learning music. If one was going to be interested in music, it is not enough just to learn the techniques. If one is playing a trombone, one can be OK on a technical level. But what constitutes the essence of a true musician? Clearly, it must be an individual who is following an inner inspiration, letting the techniques follow, not lead. The greatest artists, poets, and musicians in the world, throughout our history, have been the ones that have been inwardly inspired.
I feel what you are saying, Michael, is that we have to emphasize development of the whole person. It is not enough just to learn astrology and consider it as a be-all and end-all in and of itself. It is not a religion, as you pointed out yesterday. We really have to get more into this issue of developing the whole person. I think if we approach it this way…The work you are doing here at the Heart Center is a perfect example. This is the issue: developing the whole person, developing one’s total self. We can bring in the issue of ones’ spiritual nature, one’s timeless nature, or as the Buddhists would say, one’s Buddha nature. I think if we start from this point of view, regarding astrology or any other profession, this makes a person approach it in a whole way. I think if we do this, we lead to the effect of developing the astrologers within the profession; then we will have a cooperative consciousness, and not a defensive consciousness. In this way, promoting service and awareness to the whole, i.e. society, will fall into place all by itself as a natural consequence of these issues.
Erlewine: I want to say something of a critical nature again. One of the problems I have with cooperating is this: I am glad to cooperate, but we have no standards. We have no psychological standards and we have no standards of meaning. Everyone is free to have all their own meaning, just as they want it. This is as it should be. It is good to have this freedom. But at the same time, while I might encourage you, I do not want to encourage the woolly-minded types of astrologers. There are people going off and laying heavy trips on other people. Like, “Beware of an accident next month.” There we have a problem, because we want to encourage each other to be everything we can be, and at the same time we have no organization; we have no standards.
It would be great if we had tests to say, “you are not an astrologer until you pass this.” But most of the tests are ridiculous – absolutely ridiculous. I would not take them, and I probably couldn’t even pass them. I think a lot of astrologers feel that way, that we couldn’t even pass the damn tests. That is because it is someone else’s idea about what it is to be an astrologer. We vary by that much from one another.
One of the things we have been working on at Matrix, with Doug Pierce, Doug Smith and a number of other people is semiotics, the study of meaning. It has to do with trying to go beyond the scientific psychological list of facts that people credit as being the facts of the mind, and saying, as a group of astrologers who perhaps are more sensitive, to look into our own mind – the mind of astrology and the feelings of astrology – and come to some general agreement as to what we feel to be there. So that we can begin to see outlines of things that we could agree as a group are there.
It is like Atlantis rising. Leave aside the techniques that are so personal that they work for you but not for me when I do them, and vice versa. What can we, as a group, agree upon that is in our common astrological mind? Like a scientist, I am interested in things that we can verify. However, unlike the rules of the scientist, I would like to develop our own series of astrological rules in a disciplined way. I am willing to come to some general agreement: I would like to see some standards developed.
I also agree with you about the idea of technique. Technique is the essence of experience. It is the residue that is left over after the experience has been had. It is very dangerous to give someone technique with no initial training. Yes, they can go use it, but they may have no idea whatsoever how it arose. That is why I have come all the way around to no even wanting to teach beginning astrology anymore.
When I went to study the Tibetan method of astrology, I was totally shocked. First I read some of the books and material which are available (and there is very little). This led me to the actual Tibetans themselves. The practitioners, I came to them, and I said, “I am ready. I am an astrologer with twenty years experience, I can do all this.” In one case I traveled 800 miles to visit one of these teachers to request permission to begin a particular practice and he said. “No, you can’t do that. With all due respect to your experience in astrology, you must start at the very beginning. Because in this area of training your mind, Michael, you are a beginner.” That was kind of a hard pill to swallow.
I am not the only astrologer who is going to be led by the nose to that point, and told, “you either want to begin taking training, in terms of calming and disciplining your mind, and learning the ethics of training your mind, or else you are just going to exist in this world where you may be tremendously able in a limited fashion, but you will never be the whole person you want to be.”
Green: I agree with this. This comes back to the point of developing the inner person, and letting the techniques follow.
Erlewine: It can’t be something that is just done. It is very difficult to develop the inner person by yourself. There really exist traditional lineages and method of doing it that are far beyond what we could put together alone as astrologers.
Green: This is true. I think what this Buddhist fellow was saying is that you have to develop the whole person. We can’t do the traditional western thing and impose something on someone as if only we are right. We can only suggest. We can only speak from our heart, from our own reality. If we agree with these kinds of issues and these kinds of statements and beliefs, we can only present that. We plant the seed and replant that seed. Wherever that seed is meant to land and take hold, wherever it is meant to land into the fertility of someone’s mind, it will do so. That is all we can do. Then stand back and see what happens
About Astrologer Jeff Green
Jeffrey Wolf Green was born December 2, 1946 in Hollywood, CA at 4:52 AM.
Green is perhaps best known for his best-selling book “Pluto: The Evolutionary Journey of the Soul.” He and astrologer Steven Forrest pioneered “Evolutionary Astrology,” which is now supported by a large group of astrologers. Green is a self-taught astrologer, interested in what we could call the more spiritual side of astrology. Green is a veteran the Vietnam era, who had at that time an epiphany through talking with a Buddhist monk in a monastery in Asia. Later, he lived with the Navaho in New Mexico and was initiated into their Peyote rituals, subsequently have what he calls the “Vision of the Blackbird.” Green is well-known as an author, lecturer, radio host, and mentor.
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