Matrix Interview with Astrologer Ray Merriman
Our interviewer is Clarke Fountain April 1, 2001
[This interview is sponsored by Matrix Astrology Software at AstrologySoftware.com]
Fountain: You have had such a long and distinguished history in astrology that I hardly know where I would begin. I don't doubt that I'll be covering some old territory, which lots of people know about, but here goes. As someone who holds office in a worldwide astrology association (ISAR), is actively involved with many astrological associations, and whose business puts them in touch with currents in the "non-astrological" world, I would first off like to know what you think about how healthy the astrological community is today, where you think it is going, and where you think it should be going?
Merriman: I think Astrology is getting increasingly healthy all the time. The quality of thought concerning grasp of the subject just keeps getting better and better over the last 20 years or so. I base this on the quality of lectures I hear at major symposiums throughout the world. Just when I think I've made a new leap in my understanding, I sit in on a lecture and realize that this person has made an even greater leap in understanding - and application - of astrology to the human condition. So there are a lot of very good astrologers today, and they just keep getting better and better at what they do.
As to where we are going, and where I think we should be going - it's basically the same. Modern day astrology is probably about 30 years old. I mean the current generation of leaders in our community started around since the late 60's, early 70's, much like I did (my start was in 1967). So for most of this modern-day astrology, its either going through a Saturn return or first square after the Saturn return. I think we are at a point where we might be saturated with - or at least mature in our quest for - knowledge and technique. Instead it seems that collectively we are moving towards more Saturnian things, like standards, ethics in practice, accountability to our clients and to ourselves within the context of a broader professional community.
Many of us are now professionals, or use astrology in our professional practices. The number of professionals has increased greatly in the past decade or so. But there are still a great number of people who use astrology as if it is solely a fortune-telling tool, which only they have the power to interpret. The difference is considerable: the later type believes astrology and the astrologer are the "choice-maker" and the client is encouraged to form a dependent relationship to the astrological consultant. The other type believes astrology and the astrologer are the "choice revealer," and the outcome is dependent upon the client's choices. In other words, the individual is a participant in the ultimate outcome of matters in their life, and not solely slotted for a life of fate with inevitable outcomes.
Needless to say, those who are successful professionals in the field are the ones pressing for community-wide ethical standards and guidelines. I believe this is the immediate future of astrology - towards greater and greater awareness of ethics in practice, and professionalism in one's behavior as an astrologer.
I think this direction is fine. In fact, I think it is necessary at this time, perhaps even more than the acquisition of more astrological knowledge. I mean, no matter how much astrology you know, you still might not be of any value to society or your clients if you don't present it in an ethical way. You may cause more harm than good for the field as well as for yourself.
But I also think this is but a phase of a larger cycle for the evolution of a more professional astrology. And once this phase is over, I think you will see more interest in research, in the objective scientific correlations of astrology with human activity. I attribute that possibility to Uranus in Aquarius. As Uranus moves into Pisces, I think you will see a shift again, to the more philosophical and spiritual underpinnings of astrology, trying to answer questions as to "why" astrology works, now that we can demonstrate that it does work. Keep in mind, though, that is very possible (I think) that what we end up finding works in astrology may not be consistent with what our textbooks theorized should work.
Fountain: You've probably answered this question more than once over the years, but I would like to know how you got interested in astrology, and how you came to combine that interest with your work in the financial community? Or should I turn that question the other way 'round?
Merriman: I got interested in astrology when I was in my senior year at Michigan State University, earning my degree in Psychology. I was taking a graduate research course in Social Psychology at the time, and a thesis I was working on was related to my speculation that a new sub culture was forming in society (this was 1966-67). I took it upon myself to administer the Rokeach Values Test, named after Dr. Milton Rokeach of MSU - my instructor, to those who were known as "Flower Children" at the time. This was before the term "hippies" became popular. My criteria for subjects of this group were that they had to live in communes, which were springing up all over the country. My goal was to see if the values of these people differed significantly from the values of others groups in our society that Rokeach himself had analyzed statistically. The end result was that my control group varied so much more than any other group that Rokeach and his students had analyzed that he was absolutely amazed. So I concluded there was a new sub-culture forming in our society that would have a profound a dramatic impact on the future of the USA society.
But during this survey, I was often asked, "What is your sign?" One of the participants gave the book "Astrology" by Ron Davison, and that got me started. Within a year, I think I read every astrology book available at Circle Books in Ann Arbor, and especially gravitated towards those by Dane Rudhyar and Margaret Hone.
In 1978 I had a client who wanted to know if there was a correlation between astrology and the stock market. I didn't know. She agreed to put me up at a country home with a Catholic priest for a week, to study incorporation dates and stock charts of several companies listed on the New York Stock Exchange to see if I could find anything of interest. At the end of a week (in March 1978), I told her there were 5 companies that looked very good from what I could determine. She bought shares in those five companies, and her investment appreciated 28% in the following 5 months. I was hooked.
But it wasn't until I met Walter Bressert, legendary cycles analyst, in Tucson, Arizona at a speech I gave in the winter of 1980, that I became real serious. He and his wife invited me to dinner at his home after my annual Forecasts speech, where he showed me a graph of daily Gold prices going back to its first trading day in 1974 (every day). He showed me three distinct periods where prices went straight up or straight down during the past 6 years. Each of these coincided exactly with Mars retrograde, which he has noted on the graphs. He asked if I thought that was a coincidence. I didn't think so. He gave me those charts and some books he had written on Cycles, and suggested I go to work on them. I was in heaven. I tracked Gold every day myself - and still do, 20 years later. Within two years I wrote "The Gold Book: Geocosmic Correlations to Gold Price Cycles," which is the first work (I believe) that provided a quantitative study of any financial market to planetary aspects other than the Sun and Moon. From there I became a frequent guest contributor on Financial News Network, and my career as a financial astrologer was launched.
Fountain: You have developed a whole series of techniques to assist in making investment decisions, and have composed a training program based on those techniques for people interested in investment astrology, and have created several computer programs that offer specialized support for those techniques. I would like to hear from you in a general way about what those techniques are. Also, how do they enhance your ability to act in today's marketplace? Where can people go to learn more, or to purchase these materials?
Merriman: Yes, I have developed a complete system for the investor or trader who wishes to enhance their market timing skills, and by inference, their profitability.
Generally speaking, it is important fist of all for one to understand that markets move up and down in price, in a rhythmical, cyclical fashion. Cycles are actually measured in time between two lows, or troughs. Within every cycle are smaller cycles, or sub-cycles, or "phases" of the greater cycle. These "phases" make up the three most common patterns of a cycle, which are a two-phase pattern, three-phase pattern, or combination of the two. So for instance, in an 18-week stock market cycle, you have either two 9-week sub-cycles, or three 6-week sub-cycles, or a combination of the two.
But cycles have orbs of one-sixth of their median length. So those lows can vary a few days, even a few weeks. You can narrow that time band down if you know that certain astrological signatures will occur within the cycle time band.
So astrology helps you to narrow the time band down when a market cycle is due. It is wonderful market timing or enhancement tool. But by itself, it is not enough. You also need to know where you are within a cycle, which "phase" is due, because a market behaves differently at each phase of its cycle.
Our books explain the methodology in much more detail. Our course allows the individual to actually see how it works and ask questions. Investors and traders can keep up with my thinking through my newsletters, or email services (weekly and even daily). For those who want to master it themselves, and love to do research as I do. We offer the FAR for the Galactic Trader software, which allows the user to do his/her own research and find out exactly which astrological signatures are most relevant to changes of trend in any given stock or financial market or commodity contract.
People can find out about these services and products through our web site at www.mmacycles.com. Or they can write us for a catalogue at MMA, P.O. Box 250012, W. Bloomfield, MI 48325, or firstname.lastname@example.org.
Fountain: The Solar Returns Report you wrote for Matrix Software is for everyone, not just those interested in investment indications. Would you please discuss what approach you took in putting together that report, and say why you think it is distinctive?
Merriman: First of all, I love this program not just for its content, but also for the elegant way Matrix put it together for me.
The program is based on the horoscope for the exact moment when the transiting Sun returns to the exact degree, minute, and second of its natal position. Always happens within 24 hours of one's actual birth time. In actuality, it occurs about 6 hours later every year, which is why we have a leap year every 4th year (to make up for the additional 6 hours each year).
The report is distinctive for several reasons. First, the interpretations are based upon my own understanding of how planets work, so that alone is as unique as I am unique. Secondly, I employ techniques for timing potential events that are definitely my own creation. You won't find these timing techniques anywhere else because of that. For instance, I developed the "one degree per day angular progression method," which basically applies a solar arc between the transiting Sun and the natal (or solar return) Sun, to the Midheaven of the return chart. When the progressed angles conjunct any natal or solar return planets, something tends to happen according to 1) the planet being conjuncted and 2) the angle making the conjunction. Since the angles will move about 1 degree per day, and hence 360 degrees in the year, every planet will be aspected twice (solar return and natal) by each of the 4 angles. Thus there will be 76 dates during the year when there is a "hit." The reason there are not 80 dates is because the Sun is the same for both the return and natal. Then those 76 dates are given interpretations in the reports print out. This is truly unique. No other solar return program offers this degree of interpretative timing for a year. All in all, the report is about 40-60 pages each year, which is quite comprehensive. There are about a dozen different areas of interpretation addressed in the report, of which the "One degree per day angular progression method is just one part.
Fountain: Here's a hot-button question: should astrologers be actively seeking greater general acceptance and respectability for astrology in the world at large? What measures do you think astrologers should be taking to improve the discipline's circumstances in the world?
Merriman: I don't think astrologers need to be actively seeking greater general acceptance and approval and respectability for astrology from the world at large. I think they need to actively seek it from themselves, between one another. If astrologers become more accountable and responsible to their clients and to one another, then the result will be greater general acceptance and respectability from the world at large.
That's why I believe training in ethics is very important for professional astrologers - not to make the world respect us more, and not even so much to protect our clients from "bad astrologers." But for us to simply protect ourselves from harming one another, or from clients who will continue to make unrealistic demands upon us as astrologers because we continue to foster the illusion that we are fortune-tellers, and hence entertainers. Clients come to us expecting answers to their problems. I do not believe that the answers are there for us to give them. Insights into understanding their present circumstances are possible. Ideas about possible choices to resolve these issues are there. But we cannot make the choice for them or rather take the choice from them, because then their expectations of us become seriously dangerous to both them and ourselves. It sets them up for an eventual fall, and consequently we set ourselves up for an eventual fall, because we (not them) failed to perform.
When we understand the ethics of involved in these types of situations, we will handle ourselves in a more responsible, and more respectable manner. We will not be viewed as entertainers and fortune-tellers, but instead as valuable sources of insight and information. The world will respect anyone who can provide that type of service and insight, because it puts the ultimate responsibility for choices back onto the client, not onto the astrologer. When the astrologer accepts that bait of making the decision, he brings himself to the level of entertainer, and both parties miss the opportunity of gaining mutual respect for one another. It is not important to amaze your client with your "powers," as many astrologers try to do. It is more important that the client leave with a sense of amazement for the possibilities now open to themselves to undertake to put their life in order. They should leave with a sense of self-empowerment, not with a sense of how powerful the astrologer is.
When we reach this level of behavior as a community, I think you will see society begin to view astrology and astrologers differently. But we have to start the process of awareness within our own community ourselves. The world isn't going to change, and I think it is fruitless for us to think that they will change if we "educate them" about how astrology really works. I don't think so. I think we need to first educate ourselves on the topic of ethical practice - and it involves more than just saying we agree not to betray the confidence of a client's or his chart.
Fountain: What are you working on now? Do you have some projects that you would like to talk about?
Merriman: I am involved in writing a 5-series volume titled "The Ultimate Book on Stock Market Timing." I am in volume 3 now, due out this summer. It will take another three years to finish what I started in 1994. At that time, I simply asked myself: "If I were to accomplish anything meaningful with my life, what would I like it to be? Where would I like to leave my "mark in life?" I decided it would be to leave as complete a study as possible of my understanding of the U.S. stock market. I committed myself to "becoming one with the soul of the stock market" for the next several years. To research all the cycles I could possibly find, and determine which - if any - astrological signatures had a correspondence with the greatest and smallest of all these cycles. I knew how to do it. I just was never sure when I would find the time to study 200+ years of data, and write out my results.
Then one day in 1994 I woke up and said its time to start. I announced my retirement as Accounts Vice President of Retail Commodities at Paine Webber Securities, and began writing a basic beginning book on market cycles ("Merriman on Market Cycles: The Basics"), followed by a basic book on astrology for market traders ("Basic Principles of Geocosmic Studies For Financial Market Timing"), followed by the start of this 5-volume series. I am still involved in this long-term project. I am very focused, very disciplined about writing and researching, and I love my life because it has this sense of purpose to what I am doing.
Fountain: What excites you at present? I'm asking about trends and developments in the world at large as well as in the field of astrology.
Merriman: There are many things that excite me. For instance, I am excited about working with the board of directors of ISAR - the International Society of Astrological Research. They are such good people. I love brainstorming with them. I love it that each of them is a visionary and puts the future of the astrological community before themselves. I love that they support each other so much, and truly seem to get inspired from one another. And I love that they are in fact doing something constructive on behalf of astrology.
I also love working with my son's baseball team. I manage the 15-year travel team from our community, which consists of the elite ball players who travel around the state of Michigan playing the other communities best ball players. And if we perform well, we get invited to World Series after the regular season. The whole idea of working with teams of people - especially young people - that are focused on the same goals, and who support one another.... that's what excites me.
Unfortunately I am not so optimistic of this process on a national or international political level. But on that level, I must say that I am quite excited about the recent findings in the human gene structure, and the possibilities this holds for the future. I look forward to debates on the "ethics" of this issue as well!
Astrologically, I would say I am most looking forward to the period of Uranus transiting through Pisces, while Neptune is in Aquarius. This may be a time when things we can only imagine right now might become realized. I expect this may be the most exciting time of my already exciting life to live on this planet :-)). I think this coming period is what I was born for - maybe that's true with many of us. But then again, Neptune is my rising planet and Uranus my culminating planet, so maybe it is something I feel personally tuned in to.
About Astrologer Ray Merriman
Raymond A. Merriman is the President of The Merriman Market Analyst, Inc., since 1981. He is the editor of the MMA Cycles Report and other advisory market reports used by traders and institutions all over the world. His free weekly market column is translated into 7 different languages. He is the author of several books on financial astrology, as well as The Solar Return Book of Prediction (1977) and Evolutionary Astrology: Journey of the Soul Through States of Consciousness (1977, 1992). He also currently serves as the President of ISAR (1994-2000 and 2002-2008), and is co-coordinator for the UAC 2008 conference.
Merriman can be reached at http://www.mmacycles.com/
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