In 1992 I went to my first UAC conference. For the uninitiated, the United Astrological Congress is sponored by three of the biggest astrological organizations, NCGR, ISAR, and AFAN, and is usually held every three years or so. It’s like Woodstock or the Academy Awards for astrologers, with an international faculty and astrologers from all over the world converging for an opportunity to hear their favorites and to get together for drinks and to watch whatever crazy thing Michael Lutin’s put together for entertainment.
I submitted applications to speak at the last few UAC conferences but my bids weren’t successful, and I’ll be honest, no matter how little you expect to be chosen it still hurts when you’re not. So since I couldn’t get to Atlanta, didn’t think I could cope with Orlando’s humidity, and had already been to Denver, I found myself without a compelling enough reason to make the trip. Consequently I haven’t been to a UAC conference in almost 16 years.
But when UAC 2012 was announced for New Orleans, I made up my mind I’d be there. I’ve always wanted to go to New Orleans, and in the past ten years I’ve made such amazing friends in the astrological community, thanks mostly to my website. Here would be an opportunity to meet many of them in person for the first time while sampling the joys of a unique American city. I started a savings account devoted to the UAC trip and started nagging my friends to go.
When the call came to submit proposals to speak, I reflexively put together my package. At the time I wrote on Facebook, “It’s like buying a lottery ticket: The chances of being chosen feel remote, but you can’t win if you don’t play.” So I bought my lottery ticket fully expecting to attend UAC 2012 as a spectator.
But now, that won’t be happening.
Because I’ll be going as a presenter.
Ironically, the news came the day after I was having one of my blackest “I’m a failure in my chosen profession” moods. When I gave my husband the news he observed, “Well, I guess you can’t retire for another year, then.”
I guess not.
After the first-tier invited speakers were scheduled, there were apparently only 30 speaking slots remaining to be filled by application, and there were 240 applicants. It’s astonishing to me that I was chosen. I’ve been following a couple of Facebook discussions among some folks who weren’t so lucky and honestly, I’m feeling something akin to survivor’s guilt.
To my friends and colleagues who weren’t so fortunate, let my experience persuade you of this:
- It’s not only “big names” who get invited to speak at UAC. Because … I’m not. My name is not big. No one can even spell it properly.
- And it’s not only the well-connected with friends in high places, either. I belonged to NCGR for 17 years, and I’ve been an ISAR member since 1992; I’ve never been to one of their conferences, never contributed to a journal or newsletter. I have, in fact, exchanged fraught words with at least one high-level board member of one of the sponsoring organizations.
In summary: I’m not a big name, I don’t have a gift for schmoozing influential people, I haven’t spoken for a lot of astrology groups. If you have any two of those things going for you, and you keep at it, I’m willing to bet your odds in the future will be much better than mine were. As for me, taking nothing away from the hard work I’ve done in the last 20 years to establish myself in astrology – my progressed Sun is trining Jupiter this year, and to be honest, I think I just got lucky. That’s not to say I haven’t worked to earn it; it’s just that a lot of the people who didn’t get chosen have worked hard, too.
The December 21 lunar eclipse made a close aspect to my natal Venus, and I wondered what that would mean for me. And now I’m reminded of something I’ve always said about eclipses to Venus: that getting Venus goodies like acceptance or money or whatever can be just as challenging as having something bad happen to you – if you don’t believe that you deserve it. Earlier today, I was tempted to fall into my lifelong pattern of denigrating my successes and apologizing that my hard-won prizes didn’t go to someone more deserving. But you know what? After going through two years of transiting Pluto opposing my Venus, I’m done with that. I intend to go to New Orleans, do my very best, and have the time of my life. Because who knows whether lightning will strike twice?