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A Love Alchemist’s Interview, Part One

When it comes to practitioners who are technically savvy, astrology has a pretty deep bench. But few astrologers combine technical know-how with strong, compelling writing – and fewer still do it with as much heart, enthusiasm, and panache as my friend Jessica Shepherd. A few months ago, the proprietress of and columnist published her first book, A Love Alchemist’s Notebook: Magical Secrets for Drawing your True Love into Your Life (Llewellyn).  It’s exactly the kind of book I wish had been around when I was single and trying to figure out how to break out of the bad date ghetto and attract a worthy partner. Because God knows, figuring it out on my own took much longer than it should have!

I’m delighted to share an interview with Jessica that I’ll run in two parts, concluding tomorrow. You can buy her fabulous book through Amazon, Llewellyn’s website, or at your local bookstore (if they don’t carry it, strong-arm them into ordering some copies). And if you’re in the San Francisco Bay area, you can meet Jessica at a book launch party this weekend – on Saturday, May 8, 7PM at Book Passages in Corte Madera, CA!

Jessica, one of the things that drew me to your writing the first time I visited your blog was your engaging, autobiographical style. As readers of Big Sky Astrology know, I’m a big fan of writing about astrology with a personal perspective, and you do it exceptionally well! In your book you share the story of how your personal experience with love magic inspired you to write the book, and I wonder if you’d share that with my readers….

April, the admiration is mutual. Well in the beginning, I think perhaps like many people, one part of me had always assumed that I would eventually meet my life partner ‘magically’ – though not in the intentional use of the word but the passive sense, similar to the way we assume there are things in life with which we have no control over, we simply show up, buy great jeans, get our hair done, get on and then hope for the best.  By the time I finished the love experiment, I did meet him ‘magically’ – although this time, magical wasn’t magical thinking but infused with intention and personal power.

My story began no differently from anyone else’s. Girl meets guy. Guy treats her poorly. Guy turns out to be Mr. Right Now instead of Mr. Right. Same Guy, Different Date. Etc. The stories we each have are different, but the themes of the story are the same. One day I decided I just chose to approach love experiment from a more empowering angle (this wasn’t mentioned in the book, but since your readers are astrologically savvy, I was having a Saturn-Venus transit). I began taking back my authority: saying ‘no’ to a surrogate relationship that had been slowly eroding my personal boundaries and after that, I noticed I freed up energy for new people to enter. As I started doing a few spells, a few more Mr. Not Quite Rights trickled in, yet I wasn’t discouraged. I had begun playing with spiritual principles and by ending a relationship which had been my placeholder for years, I was reminded of one: ‘The Universe abhors a vacuum’. A full cup, full of what you don’t want communicates a metaphysical message to Cupid that you’re too full to receive what you do want. From that point on, I focused on getting empty and clearer. I didn’t stop relating, I just took a more Venusian approach – light, easy and open – without being too open, too easy, too light. More profoundly, I started treating every relationship as though there was something for me to learn – and – I started valuing myself. Frankly, these were huge leaps. There was far more for me to learn about myself from the men that weren’t right for me than I’d ever thought.

Eventually, as my soul mate and now husband likes to say, I had ‘conjured up my man’, yet the inspiration to share my experience didn’t happen till shortly after I was married and I was answering questions as an astrological advice columnist. The number one question was a variation of: When will I find The One? Is he The One? I grew frustrated by what I wasn’t able to speak to in a paragraph or in a one and a half hour session.  So I decided to write the love adventure down and offer up everything I had learned.

You’re a professional astrologer, yet A Love Alchemist’s Notebook isn’t, technically speaking, an astrology book. How did your knowledge of astrology inform the book, and can a reader’s knowledge of astrology make the book even more useful to her?

Absolutely! A Love Alchemist’s Notebook isn’t an astrology book, yet I’m a professional astrologer so it informs much of the work. On an obvious level, your readers will be able to pull a few feathers out of their astrological caps. First, using the art of divine timing to create love magic. Magic has always been in astrology’s roots, though we’ve stopped calling it that and given all the magic to the wiccans and pagans – not fair! Astrologers use magic all the time: we divine appropriate times, those periods during which energy is conducive to certain activities and events. Also we know consciousness carries it’s own magic; we simply have more opportunities to make intentional choices when we’re deeply conscious. The ancients knew that all parts of our being, and the cosmos, must be in alignment for great magic to happen. So, your readers will be able to use their knowledge of astrology, of say, their own transits or natal chart to expand their consciousness around what’s attempting to be integrated into their life. This is infinitely helpful, for example, when sizing up a ‘High Pluto’ (perceptive & deep) or ‘Low Pluto’ (obsessive & dark) type of person. They can also use astrology to choose the right date for a love ritual. If wooing the Gods & Goddesses to do one’s bidding, why not solicit them during the exact moment the heavens are most receptive to one’s wish?

Second, there’s Venus, the archetype of attraction, among other delightfully wicked things that make life worth living like sensual pleasure, joy, sweets, temptation and love. As an aside, it always struck me as odd that Venus was called the ‘Goddess of Love & Marriage’ when she is clearly more the girlfriend type (the asteroid of fidelity and loyalty, Juno, seems far more fitting for that title). But in the search for love it was Venus, the archetype of attraction, that most interested me. Venus clearly excels at attracting, shining like a bright tractor beam for all the world to see and although she’s been mired in superficial sludge, she’s actually a very mentally intelligent and intuitive lady. If you get past all the artifice and look into the symbol of Venus her self, you’ll see the hemicircle of the crescent Moon (intuition) and Mercury (mental intelligence) are both cleverly concealed within her symbol. Culture surely overloads us with her dark shadow – materialism, physical beauty, or becoming the person we think they want us to be – but we can ‘see’ attraction as a sensual and a mental orientation, with keynotes of receptivity, openness, joy and positive expectancy, among others. The symbol of Venus contains so many secrets to intelligently attracting, but you’ll have to read the book for those.

You’ll likely make other astrological connections, too. One friend told me, ‘Your book is all about Neptune, but you never said so?’ Yes, and that omission was intentional. I was trying to build a bridge between someone who wouldn’t pick up an astrology book – but would pick up a book on love and soul mates. I believe that there are ways that we, as astrologers, might attempt to make the symbols more transparent because sometimes it’s by removing the astro-babble and astrologese, that the message becomes clear.

The interview continues here!

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