Matrix Interview with Astrologer Gary Caton
Our interviewer is Michael Erlewine December 22, 2008
Erlewine: Welcome Gary! Are you willing to share your birth data with our readers and if so, please tell us what it is.
Caton: Yes. I was born April 10, 1968 at 3:06am at Fairfax Hospital, in Fairfax, Va.
Erlewine: How did you get interested in astrology?
Caton: I had a series of intense archetypal dreams which were in color. In the final one, I saw the Sun and inside the solar disk was the symbol for Venus. I managed to find an ephemeris and figure out that this was exactly what was going on up there in the sky. I was blown away! Unfortunately, perhaps because of the emphasis on outer planets in modern astrology, I did not find out the true importance of this dream for some time. The interior conjunction of Venus with the Sun was extremely important to Babylonian and Mayan astrologers, but modern astrologers don’t seem to appreciate its significance as much. Venus was very different as morning star and evening star in pre-Hellenic astrology. She could be both a Goddess of war as well as fertility! This is also what led me to a deeper investigation of the asteroid Goddesses. We are in the middle of two very rare alignments of Venus with the Sun where Venus literally crosses the solar disk, like in my dream! These happen in 2004 and 2012. These happen less than once in a lifetime as they are more than 100 yrs apart. It is interesting to me that astronomers are putting more emphasis on feminine Goddesses at this time. I hope astrologers catch up.
Erlewine: Who did you learn from, what books or schools of astrology?
Caton: I am mostly self taught. I believe that learning is best in a non-directive environment without anyone else’s agenda but your own curiosity. That said, I have studied with some great astrologers informally. I started off learning transits with Tom Roma as a sort of “predictive astrologer.” Then I went and took in a bit of tradition with Project Hindsight. I am eternally grateful to Robert Schmidt and Ellen Black because they had a sort of open door policy and let me hang around even though I didn’t have any money! Then I went and got a counseling degree and learned to speak with people around sensitive emotional issues which Glenn Perry helped me with a little. I then had a phase where I was into heliocentric astrology and deepened my knowledge of that subject with Michael Erlewine. Since then my main interest has been in the synodic cycles material that Robert Blashke helped turn me onto with his volume 5, which I participated in the research for.
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?
Caton: Well, there are definitely people I look up to, but not in a really formal way. The lineage is simply the development of my own innate curiosity into a broader and broader understanding of astrology. Some people find a niche and stick with it, but I have yet to do that. The NCGR and ISAR journals and the Mountain Astrologer have been helpful in letting me consolidate my explorations and then move on. Lately I am also inspired by people like Michael Lutin and Eric Francis and learning to write sign by sign horoscope delineations. It is an art form!
Erlewine: What type of astrology do you do? What techniques do you use and what techniques really work for you?
Caton: As a Virgo Moon, I am well versed in many, many techniques! Lately I have been using the consult chart as a sort of Horary. Not in the traditional sense, but in allowing the synodic cycles in the horary to speak to the nativity. It has worked very well. I think the magic of technique is when you find the right technique to use for the right person at the right time. It is kinda’ like in the movie “The Legend of Bagger Vance,” where he says you have to allow the one authentic golf shot that is just right for you at any moment. You have to let it find you!
Erlewine: Have you created any new techniques in astrology and what are they? Do others know about and use them also?
Caton: I wouldn’t say I’ve created new techniques, but I have definitely looked at some sort of exotic techniques and used them in new ways. Most notably, my first article in “The Mountain Astrologer” was on the perihelion of Saturn, and I developed my own understanding of heliocentric astrology which was then deepened by Michael Erlewine. Also, I took Demetra George’s relatively under-developed idea of the Goddess asteroids representing a transformative process and ran with it. I repeatedly demonstrated that technique in mundane, celebrity, and client applications.
Erlewine: What do you personally use astrology for in your life and how often do you consult it?
Caton: Astrology is a way of Life for me. The primal alternations of Light/Dark form a sort of Taoist philosophy which guides me spiritually. My emerging understanding of the subject is what keeps me creatively engaged with Life. I also make many practical everyday decisions based on astrology. I use it every day to be sure.
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
Caton: Yes, I am very, very comfortable doing readings. I really enjoy helping people see as yet undiscovered dimensions of themselves or situations via their chart. I would like to maintain a healthy balance between direct service via readings and indirect service via my writing.
Erlewine: Have you been to gatherings, conferences, etc. on astrology and how were they? Are you a social astrologer or a lone wolf?
Caton: I enjoy conferences, but truly I am at heart what you would call a lone wolf. This is what I call the path of the wanderer hero. The wanderer rejects what some would call safety and flees it, learning instead by autonomy and independence. I see the air element being about the Social Contract, producing wanderer heroes who grow through attempts to circumvent or revise it.
Erlewine: What are your connections to professional astrologers? Do you belong to any astrological organizations?
Caton: Oh, yes. I belong to NCGR, ISAR and AFAN. Currently I am about to serve four years on the AFAN steering committee. We have a strong community of professionals here in Asheville where I live and a vibrant group of all levels. I have come to know many other professionals, and I enjoy being invited to speak to groups where I can always meet more!
Erlewine: What are your thoughts about the state of modern astrology and astrologers?
Caton: I feel that there is a bit of myopia to be overcome in modern astrology with way too much focus on the outer planets. We have many, many new planets. So many it seems silly to have outer planets ruling signs anymore. I think that was a mistake that will go away. In a similar light, we have many, many new astrologers yet it seems that some of the same few people continue to get most of the attention. Then these very same people say “where are the new astrologers?” Some even say that Pluto in Virgo produced less astrologers.
From my perspective that is so untrue; it’s like a bad joke. That is not happening everywhere of course, like here for instance, but overall I would like to see more passing of the baton between generations. I feel that the hierarchical nature of the astrology organizations is not conducive to this. We need a more free exchange of information and influence to new generations to keep what happened in the latter part of the last millennium from happening again.
Astrology nearly died out. In my opinion this was because the information and influence flow was too controlled. Healthy systems have neither too rigid nor too permeable of boundaries. They feel rigid to me now. We have the first Pluto in Virgo president of our Nation and yet we only had about 5 of 150 astrologers at UAC from the younger generations and it is not because they aren’t there.
Erlewine: What about the business of astrology? Does it work for you? How much of your income comes from astrology in percentages?
Caton: All of my earned income comes from astrology. I have some investments too. I work full time to make a part time income, but I do it because I love it. Luckily for me, I took advantage of the housing boom to buy, fix up, and sell enough real estate to pay off my house before going full time. So, basically I can afford to be a full time astrologer.
Erlewine: How have astrologers responded to your site and what about regular folks?
Caton: Regular folks seem to love my approach and the process I have followed. There seems to be a pronounced movement amongst some professionals to attempt to downgrade anything from dreams or “direct experience” because they seem to think this reflects badly upon them. I couldn’t disagree more and I feel it is dangerous to let a scientific/rational or modernist worldview take the reigns of leadership as we move into a post-modern era. There is no “one right way” to live, and I respect and love that astrology is as diverse as all the cultures to have practiced it.
Erlewine: Do you think astrology is a predictive tool and if so, how so?
Caton: Yes, it absolutely can be. I can predict basic developmental issues that correspond both to developmental psychology and to planetary cycles. I feel it is vital to address someone from the basic developmental phase within which they find themselves while also maintaining an awareness of where they have been and where they are going.
Erlewine: Do you identify yourself as an astrologer to others and how do they respond?
Caton: Oh yes, always. Most people are surprised by my candor and very few have anything bad to say. I long ago learned how to show the skeptic that narrow-mindedness does not constitute a valid rebuttal. For instance, people might say “I don’t believe in astrology.” I always respond by observing that’s a lot like saying you don’t believe in Chinese.
Erlewine: Does astrology give you answers for deeply personal questions and quests?
Caton: Yes, but mostly I only fully realize the astrological connections in hindsight. It is very hard to read your own chart. I can read my own tarot sometimes, but I often consult other readers because there is no substitute for an objective opinion.
Erlewine: Any other topics that you would like to expand on.
Caton: Regarding the “demotion” of Pluto by astronomers, I think this is perhaps the best thing that could have happened to modern astrology. This shows that astronomers are able to consider new information and admit they made a mistake. Will astrologers be able to do the same thing? I’m certainly not taking anything away from the obvious power of Pluto in terms of mundane or world events, but I think on a personal level we’ve given way too much of our power away to the outer planets.
Many astrologers now will only read the transits of the outers in a reading. This is a mistake. The evidence clearly shows now that many objects very much like Pluto exist. He should therefore cease to be the big bad bogeyman of astrology. Further, the idea of Pluto ruling a sign becomes rather silly if we acknowledge he is really not all that special astronomically. Moreover, what is very confusing to me is that although in the mythology Pluto clearly represents an invader/abductor –many modern astrologers want to say that Pluto universally represents the process of transformation/re-birth. Pluto was not the one who was transformed or re-born in this myth –it was the Goddesses Ceres and Persephone! So, clearly the astronomical re-classification quite reasonably begs us astrologers to consider assigning functions to planets which actually fit the mythology.
Obviously, the outer planets represent forces over which the average individual has little or no control. Any “transformation” which occurs is because we, like Ceres, demand attention for parts of ourselves that have been abducted or denied by these forces. Venus and Ceres both dealt successfully with the Underworld journey in mythology and so represent an inherently more personal connection with the process of transformation, because of their relative proximity to us, via their 19 month (Venus’ synodic period) and 4-5 year cycles.
About Astrologer Gary Caton
Gary P. Caton is an eclectic Astrologer who embraces an organic process-oriented approach of spiritual exploration via the living sky. Caton has an extensive background in spiritual studies and has worked with the Tarot. In 1992 his life was changed by a magnificent dream where he was shown planetary alignments and after which he became an Astrologer. Caton holds a degree in counseling and has worked in the field of mental health. He resides in Asheville, NC where he publishes the bi-monthly “Goddess Astrology” pod-cast, lectures, teaches and consults an inter-national clientele. Gary Caton can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org and his website is www.DreamAstrologer.com
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