I've been a fan of Sarah Anne Lawless's blog for a couple years now. If you're already familiar with her work, you know she handcrafts beautiful flying ointments and other herbal preparations for ritual and writes some of the best posts on magical practice available. (If you're not, let's fix that!) I've always admired her refusal to shy away from difficult but oft-ignored parts of spiritual work, instead approaching them with equal parts gravity and wit. Oh, and she shares citations for all her research at the end of each blog post. How's that for raising the standard of excellence in the metaphysical community? Mystics, step up your game.
It's a huge honor to host her here for Cosmic Chat. She's given me a generous look into her astrology chart, and with fascinating results. Enjoy!
Leo sun, Taurus moon, Libra rising
IN HER OWN WORDS:
A professional artist, writer, and folk herbalist, Sarah currently lives on the West coast of Canada with her husband, their son, and a fat old black cat. She was born and raised in the wilds and small towns of the Pacific Northwest from Cormorant Island to a stone’s throw from Alaska. Brought up on the folklore and fairy tales of her Irish and Scoto-Scandinavian ancestors, but also immersed in the myths, legends, and traditions of First Nations people, her work is heavily influenced by the lore, flora and fauna of both the Old and New Worlds. An animist and naturalist, her temple is the great old growth forests, her gods are the genius loci and the ancestors, and her familiar spirits are the animals, insects, plants and trees.
Before we start and for those that might be new to your work, can you tell us a little bit about your experience with astrology and the sacred arts?
I first found my way to magic through the arts of astrology, palmistry, and herbalism. Actually, they all kind of flowed together like a wonderful threesome of magical goodness. When I was a teen I didn't have access to books on witchcraft, Wicca, or paganism. I spent hours in the library reading books on the zodiac signs and the planetary associations of the fingers and mounds of the hand in palmistry. I took clippings from gardening magazines that featured any plant folklore relating to planetary and elemental associations. I lit candles on the full moon and asked for blessings for my friends and family. When I was in my early 20s I absorbed Linda Goodman's Sun Signs and used her Love Signs book to help myself and my single friends who were dating. It seems silly now, but I still love those books and her advice was always eerily spot on.
The Farmer's Almanac was also my gateway drug to using astrology in magic. I had old copies that had articles and diagrams on astrology and the body. It taught gardening with the moon phases, the importance of solstices and equinoxes, the dates and times of the rising and setting of the moon, sun, stars, and planets for the year, and so very much more. I still refer to The Farmer's Almanac as a folk magician's handbook and I still buy a new edition every year. This may be why, even after more than a decade of the study and practice of magic, I'm still a simple folk magician and folk herbalist in the end.
What is your favorite part of your birth chart (if you had to choose)?
My grand trine of my Sun, Moon, and Jupiter is pretty awesome. My father did always say I must have a golden horseshoe up my butt because of the ridiculously unfair amount of good luck I have. Like anyone, I've had some bad experiences in my life, but I always seem to come away from them unscathed --if wary and wiser. It's also likely the reason for what I call my "annoyingly cheerful" disposition. On the flip side this can make it seem to others like I've been lucky with my success and had it fall in my lap, when in fact there is a lot of time, hard work, sweat, blood, and tears behind the things I have accomplished.
Is there a part of your chart that you find particularly challenging? If so, how do you work that to your benefit?
I've never had my chart done up by a proper astrologer before, so most of my astrological knowledge is based in folklore and the odd book. One challenge I've never been able to overcome is how people think of and treat specific sun signs. I'm a Leo and not many people or books have much to say about us that is good. I often found myself unwilling to share what my sun sign was because I was afraid of it changing people's opinions and attitudes towards me. If it weren't for the late and lovely astrologer Linda Goodman, I probably would have believed the bad press. She had a soft spot for Leos as well as the oft maligned Scorpio (one of my favourite signs) and gave me confidence to wholly embrace both the awesome and difficult aspects of my personality.
Did you know that asteroid Hekate is exactly conjunct your midheaven? Seriously, she’s within a fraction of a degree!
How amazing! I didn't know as I'd never looked up the placement of additional asteroids or stars in my chart before. I have had a very long love affair with the moon, the underworld, and witchcraft. I'm sure some would take Hekate appearing in my midheaven as an explanation for my fascination with poisonous and entheogenic herbs and their ancient ritual purposes. Studying them keeps leading me back to Hekate and her mythic garden of magical, medicinal, and poisonous plants which mirrors my own. And, you know, there's the whole obvious I'm a witch thing... Methinks it's probably not coincidence.
You’re the first person I’ve ever read for that had a kite aspect pattern. (Author’s note: a kite is formed when a planet opposes one point of a grand trine, and she has two!) How do you feel that alignment working in your life?
I heard from some astrologers that a kite can cause issues with money and I've definitely found this to be true for myself. For a long time I didn't have a good relationship with money as I saw it as the root of all evil. I spent many years intentionally being poor because I thought it would make me happy, but I learned having too little money and too much money can make people stressed and unhappy --what we need to find is balance somewhere in the middle that is right for our individual needs. A friend once told me to see money instead as an exchange of energy, of giving and receiving. I was always better at giving gifts than receiving them. They told me if I had no problem supporting people with my dollars who were doing things I thought were amazing, why wouldn't I let people do it for me? That conversation allowed me to see my relationship with money differently and the change in thought process freed me to run my own business, advertise myself, and be successful without feeling guilt or shame about it.
I don't know a lot about kites, but haven't read anything positive --it's all disasters and blocked off grand trines. If anyone knows the good that can come from having kites in your chart, I'd love to hear your experiences or opinions in the comments.
Author's note: I've always thought of kites as being a Grand Trine with more direction! Whereas a grand trine person can end up resting on their laurels, the opposition at the enter of the kite spurs them on the achieve more than they would have otherwise, even if it's through difficult circumstances. It sounds like once you were able to come to terms with the opposition part, the energy started flowing more easily for you.
Right now, lucky Jupiter in Leo is heading for your Sun, and will meet up with your Venus and Mercury in Virgo later this year. What part of your life would you like to see expand as a result of all that?
My little family is in for some very big changes once the Sun is in Leo and I'm hoping the luck will lead to smooth transitions, happiness, and the closeness of family with the help of the aspects mentioned above.
Saturn is hovering on your Mars all year and will be especially close during his foray back into chthonic Scorpio over the summer. How do you hope that energy will show up in your life and business? (I think this is great recipe for powerful saturnine magic!)
Oh, there will definitely be some saturnine magic going down! The plants in my garden who fall under Saturn's wise gaze and influence have grown exponentially over the past month and will be ready to harvest come July. It has been a few years since I was able to grown them as I was living in an apartment with no room or balcony, so I am very excited to be able to make magical and medicinal goodies with fresh herbs again. They are so much more potent, especially when I have grown them myself and made sure they have happy offerings of bonemeal, incense smoke, tobacco smoke, and blessed water. Growing and working with solanaceae and artemesias makes me stupidly happy. By the end of the summer they will be transformed into herbal ointments, smudges, smoking blends, and an elixir or two --blessed and prayed over.
Does astrology play a part in your spiritual practice? If so, how?
Though I am mainly known for my art and writings, I have also worked for many years as a folk magician and folk herbalist. My use of astrology within these practices is kept pretty basic; paying attention to the phases of the moon, the rising and setting of the sun, what zodiac signs the sun and moon are in, what planets are currently visible in the sky shining over me, what planets and elements are associated with the herbs I am using, and so on. I've also found a basic understanding of astrology is incredibly helpful as a tarot and palm reader. When I do readings or spellwork for people I like to ask them their sun and moon signs as well as their ascendant so I can completely customize the reading and working to them. It makes it more personal, but also gives much better results.
I love to collect rain or spring waters during the full moons in the spring and use them for blessing and healing. I will do prosperity work during the waxing moon and before or during midday when the sun is at its peak. I like to harvest healing herbs and flowers in the morning and banishing and cleansing herbs in the evening. I also prefer to harvest herbs when their planet or the moon and sun is in a favourable position as I believe it makes them more powerful --like harvesting moonwort under a full moon or St John's wort at midday on the summer solstice. The same goes for the rites performed using the waters and herbs I've harvested from nature. To me, astrology is about paying attention to the natural world around you, its ebb and flow, and matching my arts and actions to its cycles so they become syncronized and magic becomes as effortless as breathing.