September 12, 2014
ADRIAN: Hello Renn, and thank you for accepting my invitation to discuss your work!
RENN: Thank you for the opportunity, Adrian. I see it’s late in Romania.
ADRIAN: Yes… Renn, you wrote a marvelous book on how to use archetypal astrology to guide one’s inner journey into the transpersonal realms: how to use it to support deep internal therapeutic work. But before discussing your book, I’d like you to say a few words about your background in astrology and the transpersonal field.
RENN: During the 1960s my father was dissatisfied with the traditional religion he was raised in and was inspired by the wave of evolutionary and transformative energies of the Uranus-Pluto conjunction of 1960 to 1972 – eventually going to the Esalen Institute in Big Sur, California. He did a month-long workshop and later went back several more times…
After my parents divorced in 1973, my mother went to Esalen and lived there for several years, so I had some deep roots in California. In late 1979 I had the opportunity to go to Esalen as a work scholar after my first year of university (I started out in Political Science and Economics) and ended up staying at Esalen for all of 1980. During that year I was able to have many fascinating and inspiring conversations with Richard Tarnas whom I had met on a previous visit in the 70s… He was so generous and kind with his time. He encouraged me to explore Stanislav Grof’s work and talked a lot about the interface between archetypal astrology and Stanislav Grof’s research in transpersonal psychology.
I remember as if it happened yesterday some of our conversations… in one, we were sitting in the Esalen garden and he was very animatedly talking about some of the experiences people have in the dynamic stage of labor, when they’re accessing that part of their psyche… I was able to culminate a fantastically rich and awakening year in 1980 at Esalen with a month-long seminar with Stan and Christina Grof and guests in the fall of 1980. It was an amazing experience…
I eventually went back to university a year later, switched to English and Religious Studies and got my B.A. I did a number of Holotropic Breathwork workshops in the Bay Area as a participant in the late 80s and eventually certified as a Holotropic Breathwork facilitator in the second year of certification in Dahlonega, Georgia in October 1989. I moved back to Canada and have been doing workshops in Victoria since 1992.
In terms of astrology, I had my chart done by a friend of my mom in February 1978 when I was staying with her for three months in San Francisco, after I graduated from high school. I was fascinated with it. There was some kind of archetypal power in astrology. I remember listening to this lovely woman and looking at my chart and it just resonated so strongly with me: there were encouraging parts and kind of scary parts. I didn’t think too much about astrology for the next year and a half but then in September 1979 I found on our farm where I’d grown up, where my dad was still living with my brothers and sisters, a copy of Sakoian and Acker’s classic The Astrologer’s Handbook and I read that avidly that autumn. Then I came to Esalen on December 2, 1979 and had the opportunity to have those many inspiring conversations with Rick Tarnas. I remember putting on my workscholar application that I had certain planetary aspects in the house of work which said basically that I am a hard worker. Rick Tarnas discussed the application with Brian Lyke, the General Manager of Esalen at that time, and they were both kind of intrigued that I had that knowledge of astrology.
I was also able to do a weekend workshop with Robert Hand at Esalen in 1980 which was amazing. He is a brilliant man. I was so impressed with him also: so warm, intelligent and yet so down to earth as well. A number of other books that I read then at Esalen were also very inspiring: some of Stephen Arroyo’s works and Hamaker-Zondag works, Ebertin’s The Combination of Stellar Influences and Liz Greene’s books, especially Saturn – A New Look at an Old Devil.