Excerpts from an Interview
Recorded and edited by Garry Phillipson
The Reverend Pamela Crane is the author of Draconic Astrology, InterDimensional Astrology and The Birth of Christ. A practising consultant astrologer since 1972, she started up three AA Local Groups, edited Transit and the AA Journal, and now runs workshops, her College courses, research projects, and the e-mail bulletin "Small World".
(Now with a new home on this website. Pam, 2010.)
As a committed Christian and an astrologer, Pam counts herself lucky to have discovered (in 1984) a church which provides an astrology-friendly environment: the Liberal Catholic Church, an organisation strongly influenced by Theosophy (leading Theosophists Charles Leadbeater and James Wedgwood were its founding bishops).
Pam is a deacon in the church, and her husband Gerard a bishop. She sees the connection between her faith and astrology to be mutually enriching: "There was a phrase in the Gospels which kept ringing bells with me: 'Be thou perfect, even as thy Father in heaven is perfect'. I thought: ‘That's it! We can't be the whole, because we are too little. But we can be, as perfectly as we can, that specific part of the whole that we've been presented with’. So, the chart is the pattern of our potential perfection, which we can try and work towards. And the astrologer can help people, if they are willing, to see that pattern more clearly and work towards their own material and spiritual perfection in those terms."
A major step in Pam's astrological development came with her discovery of draconic astrology. The starting point was Dennis Elwell's talk at the 1977 AA Conference1, which focused on interconnections between tropical and draconic charts. Her fascination with these draconic patterns resulted in the publication of her book, Draconic Astrology, in 19872. Summarising the nature and importance of draconic work she says, "the draconic is a summary of lives we have lived up until now (though perhaps not all of them as we may only bring a part of ourselves into an incarnation). When people come along to an astrologer, they are usually in some quandary or crisis. And the draconic is the thing that helps them most. This has been proved time after time, over the past 20 years."
After draconic, her attention turned to sidereal charts: "There is a relationship between tropical and sidereal in the great ages, dependent on the interaction of the two zodiacs, the movement of the spring equinox against the constellations. You can't separate them. They work together to produce this hugely important set of historical cycles, the great year and the great months. This is a point largely overlooked, not made often enough. So I decided that they must each have a function in their own right, in their own context."
Her way into an understanding of the difference in meaning between the sidereal and tropical zodiacs arose from an affinity with Indian culture (on which more later): "The difference is, that over here we have the ‘me’ culture, and over there (in India), they have a degree of selflessness. I thought, well, if there is this cultural difference, then perhaps this is what we need to look at in astrological terms. This is how I approached the difference between the tropical and the sidereal, and it does work. I am absolutely happy with this. The tropical chart, that we usually use in the West, is the one that relates to our most personal lives, whilst the sidereal relates to our social and public lives, the responsibilities we have to the wider world."
But neither the tropical, the draconic nor the sidereal is ultimately real, so far as Pam is concerned. One more level is needed: "Everything looks as if it's going round us - that's geocentric. But it isn't; it's a false perspective. Everything geocentric is to some extent illusory. Heliocentric isn't; heliocentric is the true perspective from your God-self, from your spiritual centre. That's where you really see the viability of the organism, the viability of the Self; you often see patterns of chronic disability - it's very important in medical work. You also find entrenched patterns of pathology at the psychological level if you're looking at criminals' charts; they've really got hard work to do on themselves, and they probably have to commit the crime, before they can see who they really are. The helio chart is painfully truthful, I can assure you."
Root and Branch
To suggest how these four different charts work together, Pamela uses the analogy of a tree: The root of the tree (where the ultimate life is) - is the heliocentric chart. The trunk is the draconic - an accumulation of growth through previous years/lives. The top of the tree, where the annual growth happens, is the tropical. Energies which are exclusive to the tropical are therefore quite new, and relate mainly to the self-interest of the individual. The sidereal level is symbolised by the tree's interactions with its environment - it shows the individual's mode of relating to the collective, and therefore "if you look at the charts of public people in terms of the sidereal, you will usually find a far more graphic description of the person you recognise than in the tropical".
Finding a Focus
Q: How do you begin to marshal all this information?
A: "When you put the four levels, the heliocentric, tropical, draconic, and sidereal in a four-ring concentric wheel, you not only see the differences between them, but you also see alignments between them, where various bodies will occupy the same, or approximately the same, degree axis. Axes and crosses, as Ebertin found, are very dynamic. Particularly the axes. And these are the key to interdimensional work. Because across the axes where you get these connections, you have a powerful description of what that person's life is about. They bring in syndromes, themes, issues.
"For example, if you're looking at a criminal chart - say there is a Mars-Uranus-Pluto-Saturn T-square or cross affecting the Sun-Earth at the helio level, that person has got a major problem. But you can't rush to judgement on it. It may be physical. The reason for a violent pattern may not be that this person is a severely bad soul: they may be a highly spiritual soul who has accepted a cross to bear for all sorts of reasons. It's invaluable for research, because you will find patterns repeating in certain types (I have been working on autism and migraine, for instance). If the pattern is coming from the helio, then the problem may be entrenched and may have to manifest before it can be dealt with. If it's coming from the sidereal level, the person may have been goaded to violence by external factors and not really wanted to offend at all. Or, like 'Son of Sam' who is a sidereal person and Hitler, who is a strongly sidereal person, they may have wanted to create an enormous historical splash. Spread their ego all over the planet.
"If it comes from the draconic level, there is something karmic going on, something that relates back to the past. So you have to look at that side of things. There are principles at stake here. Perhaps old debts to repay, old issues to settle. If it's the tropical level, there is hope, because it's new, may be environmental, may be family, may be genetic, it's something that might be nipped in the bud by some means if it is caught quickly enough before spreading to the deeper levels.
"This is part of the fate/free-will argument, so far as I am concerned - that we do have free will, but it is increasingly limited, depending on the level. We are very free in the tropical. But we are conditioned at the other levels. Conditioned by our karma, our spiritual commitments, our past and experience at the draconic; conditioned by our culture and social obligations at the sidereal level; and conditioned by our central inner reality at the helio level, our basic viability as a being. And so freewill varies all the way up the scale.
"When you are looking at the interdimensional pattern, the chart level - whichever one of the four - whose Midheaven axis and Ascendant axis collect most planets from the others is the one that is going to be dominant, because it's constellating all the major themes. So if you've got someone whose tropical Midheaven and/or Ascendant is collecting the planets from the sidereal and draconic, then their personal life is going to be the driving force, even in those dimensions of life. But a person whose sidereal axes are collecting planets from the tropical and draconic - that means that their public life is going to be the main focus, and the others will contribute to that. This works well, I promise!
"Let me also mention Mark Penfield's contribution. He saw how important it was to take notice of not only what signs, but which tropical houses, the draconic Sun fell in. I ignored that for ages, and eventually had to admit that he's quite right."
Q: Robert Hand recently compared systems based on tropical and sidereal zodiacs to different languages - Italian and English, for instance - and said they 're both valid, you can work with either. You seem to be saying that actually both of these can be subsumed within a broader system?
A: Yes. we are all these things.
Q: Could you give me a simple example of how you might see different levels in somebody?
A: "One example was a little girl, whose mother came to have the chart done. The little girl wasn't with her. She had an enormous amount of Virgo and Capricorn. I was saying: ‘She must have difficulty finding self-confidence, she's probably a quiet, obedient little girl...’ This woman was getting increasingly puzzled and scratching her head and looking at me askance. In the end I stopped and said: ‘What's the matter?’ And she said: ‘She is nothing like that!’ ‘Isn't she?’ ‘No, you can't stop her! She is all over the place, an accident waiting to happen!’ Then my eye fell on the column headed 'Draconic', and there was all the Aries! That was a big lesson. There was this very young child, who hadn't had time to grow yet, living her draconic chart, not having yet become her tropical. That was useful."
Q: You use the converse progressed chart - what does that tell you?
A: “We make a splash in time, and the converse is if anything more important than the progressed in terms of things that play an important role in your destiny; maybe issues that you have agreed to prior to birth, because this is a pre-birth pattern... I said 'maybe', I'm not going to put my life on the line for that. But it seems like it. Major things; my parent's deaths both occurred on my converse Sun-Saturn opposition. That is what alerted me to the importance of looking at converse charts again. I can't stress strongly enough that the converse is important.”
Q: When somebody comes for a consultation, how do you prepare ?
A: "If someone is coming for a full session, the charts that I personally prepare are:
- The basic tropical pattern. (And now always its dwad, the inner Identity. Pam 2010)
- The basic helio pattern.
- The draconic.
- The sidereal.
"So those are the 'mastercharts'. Then...
- The current crop of solar returns, including the draconic.
- The secondary progressed.
- Secondary converse. Solar Arcs, Current Draconic, and annual Tertiary charts.
"Then any relocation charts that are important - because they were born somewhere else, or they are going to live somewhere else, or work a long way away and commute long distances. They (relocation charts) are so helpful.
"And then I do two quadriwheels: one with the four radix charts and another with the normal tropical at the centre, the secondary next, the converse next, and then the related return. So you can see how everything is interacting, and what themes are coming up there.
"Where possible put in the dwads, certainly in the main tropical chart. Then, if it feels important, put them into the tropical and sidereal too.
"So, when you've found the focal chart (explained earlier) - though they may be equal, which happens sometimes - then print that quadriwheel, with the focal zodiac at the centre, and the others around the outside. You need to see how the houses are altered, how the energies are altered there.
"It's just a question of bringing together what has always been there. That includes things like antiscia, as well, which have been around for a long time, and the decans themselves, upon which the dwads sit so beautifully. The dwads are very old. All this stuff has been there, waiting to be picked up and put back together again. It's a great jigsaw!
Research into Migraine
Q: You mentioned that you were discerning patterns in - for example - cases of autism and migraine. Do you see any possibility for this approach some day being verified by statistical analysis ?
A: “Well, I would hope so. Yes. What I have seen so far is very encouraging.” (Pam describes how her migraine, a 15-year problem, became much more disabling and unpredictable after her hysterectomy in 1989.) “I thought, 'OK, is this astrology worth anything? Let's see if it can help.' It looked as if it ought to be a Mars issue, because all the phenomena centre around Mars. It's in the head (Aries), it's to do with inflammation, temperature, noise sensitivity, blood vessel expansion, stress levels, dietary triggers that excite the system - it's all Mars stuff. So I started to study the transiting positions of Mars - tropical and draconic at that time - against my natal chart - tropical, draconic and helio - and the progressed patterns. Also the daily progressed angles, because I knew how important they were. They are our clockwork.
"When I had Mars at an angle, I knew I was going to have a very hectic day, because all the adrenaline would be running. So I looked at all this and came up with a three-year study which told the whole story. Whenever I had a really bad ongoing migraine that crashed me out, it was when there was a whole constellation of patterns from different directions homing in on the same few days. When there was only a light set of symptoms there would be just perhaps one. This was consistent. But the tropical and the draconic were very noticeably active. And the daily progressed angles were just as important as the natal angles. That was of huge value - it meant I could predict the periods when I was likely to be ill, and when people asked me to do things for them, avoid those periods.
"And then some wonderful people in the laboratories found a chemical substance (Sumatriptan. Pam 2010) to help migraine, which has just transformed everything. Not only can I control the timing now, but I have help, which normally works - please God may it continue.
"Anybody out there who suffers from migraine, who has an accurate birthtime and is willing to keep a migraine diary, I would suggest you either do this yourself, or let me have your details so that I can check it out and see if this is a consistent phenomenon, or if that was just my pattern. It's very simple - just one planet, and one set of very strong criteria: the natal angles, the progressed angles and usually just the Lights. These are the main foci. It should be able to be subjected to statistical work. And it's been so helpful!"
Whilst discussing her affinity for India, Pam casually mentions, " I had an incarnation in the Bombay area in the last century".
Q: How do you know?
A: How do I know? Because I was regressed.
Q: Quite a number of astrologers talk about previous lives, but not many actually have experience of them! Has the experience of regression shed light on your chart?
A: Yes! Definitely! The regression I was given led me to a life in India. I was orphaned early, and was poor. I was rescued by this (I think) English doctor when I was messing around in the street. He took me home and put me to work in his kitchen; it generally improved my lot. All my childhood I always wanted a long plait - and when I went into the regression there I was with this long plait. I've always preferred sitting on the floor, always loved wearing Indian cotton, eating curry... so many of my tastes go back to then...The draconic chart has Sun, Mercury and Venus in Virgo. As the draconic illustrates what you have learned to value very deeply and bring with you, I would go back to that life - because of the emphasis on service, humility, making do with little -these are things that I value now. At somebody else's party, I'm quite likely to dash off into the kitchen and help with the washing up.
Q: What of the Mars square ascendant?
A: That relates, I think, not to that life, but to problems left over - probably from many lives. But the spontaneous flashbacks I had were to a life here, in England, as a Roman legionary. I think that old soldier has been alive in me for a long time. There is a side to me that is very impatient, irritable, interested in violence. When I was younger and less under control, I would tend to lash out if I was under attack (physically as well as verbally). So built into my system - not only the natal chart, but especially in the helio -there is this rather volatile side, which hadn't been laid to rest. That flashback helped me to understand it, and helped in the process (which had been going on for a long time) of getting it under control and properly channelled. I suppose that, generally, it has affected the way I look at charts; but I don't focus very much on previous lives, unless the intuition starts to bubble up - which it does, sometimes - or when a question is directly asked of me during consultation about them. Because I still believe that this life is the one we should be looking at, principally.
The Chart for the Birth of Jesus
Now here is a weighty subject, which could form (in fact, has already formed) the basis for a whole article or a whole book4. Suffice it for now to note that Pam has devoted a great deal of research to the chart for the birth of Jesus, and has settled firmly on 7th May, 5BC, just after sunset with the 17th degree of Scorpio rising. The new Moon on 4th May 2000 coincides with the solar return to the chart, and the ‘Nostradamus eclipse’ on 11 August 2000 configures the chart powerfully if you look at it interdimensionally. Based on this, Pam anticipates that, in one way or another, Christ will intervene forcefully in world affairs at this juncture; it could (she thinks, hopes) even mark the second coming.
To write about Pam without mentioning the chart for Jesus would be misleading, because it is clearly very important to her. Whilst we spent a good time talking about issues around the chart, my feeling is that a lengthy account would take this article too far away from astrological concerns and into the realm of pure faith. Those who wish to know more of Pam's work in this area may want to read the book and article mentioned in the notes below.
(And see ‘The Birth of Jesus’ published on this website. Pam, 2010)
Asteroids (and the universe's way of doing things)
There are (at the last count) 7,968 named asteroids - from 'Aaltje' to 'Zyskin'. Along with the few other researchers in this field, Pam believes that the asteroids provide a wealth of information about the details of a life. An example: in Princess Diana's chart, the Sun is conjunct the asteroids Atropos, Paris, Diana and Beer - death for Diana in Paris, linked to alcohol. Note that Pam's interdimensional approach is in play here, so that (for instance) the link between Paris and the Sun is seen only by lining up draconic with sidereal: draconic Paris aligns with sidereal Sun.
This is the merest soundbite from a mass of information. Anyone who is interested in
looking further into the case will firstly need to get hold of some information on asteroids (6), and could then look at the positions of the following:
- In Diana's natal chart: Atropos; Diana; Dodona; Dolores; Duponta; French; Gyptis; Mercedes; Paris; Phaethon; Sun; Suzuki; Urgenta.
- In the Alma Bridge crash chart: Alma; Arabia; Bacchus; Beer; Christa; Dodona; Fama; Gyptis ; Honda; Midas; Nikonov; Nocturna; Paris; Photographica; Suzuki.
Pam observes that "the rule for asteroids is, ‘If it looks the same, sounds the same, or means the same, it is the same’; for instance, since there is no asteroid called 'Dodi', 'Dodona' is used as the closest match.
Q: What orbs do you use when you are working with asteroids?
A: “Very tight. I prefer not to go over a degree, but sometimes - with a conjunction particularly - it is obviously working, because of what you are looking at. I haven't seen anything wider than six degrees, and it's mostly within four, usually within two. If you start looking at people in relation to their name asteroid, you see what orbs seem to be valid, and so you learn from them. The tighter the better for research work, and for pleasing other people! The critics need to be pleased sometimes. If you can offer them nice tight orbs, they're happy. They don't always want to go along with the universe's way of doing things, they want the universe to fit their idea of what an orb should be. These are very tiny bits of rock. But who's to say how big their auras are?"
What Pam is saying about astrology is as mind-boggling to many astrologers as the idea of astrology itself is to the confirmed sceptic. To conclude an article which will, I hope, provoke much thought and fill the Editor's mailbag, here is Pam's response to a question I asked whilst we were talking about her work with inter-dimensional charts.
Q: As you are no doubt aware, the kind of criticism which gets directed at this way of working is that you end up with so much information that you could prove almost anything. What would you say to somebody, who is sceptical about this approach ?
A: “What can you say? ‘Do it!’ You can't prove anything to anybody unless they have the decency to try it. And if they won't, there is not a hope in hell, because they will be saddled with their scepticism as long as they refuse to actually look at it. How are you supposed to appreciate the taste of fine chocolate until you actually try it? You can't possibly imagine a taste or a sensation unless you have experienced it. It's just the same with understanding. If we want to know, than we have to do it. Which takes time and attention and commitment. If you haven't got those, then forget it! But at least respect the people who have.
"But most of the time when people encounter it for themselves - first of all look at their own patterns and then try it on patterns of people they know well enough - they realise how clearly descriptive it is, how accurate it is, and how unwoolly. It is not vague! And of course, when there are major themes in a life, they are repeated as we know already from midpoints and harmonic studies. The same theme is always re-echoed if it's important, and the same thing applies interdimensionally."
1'Multi-dimensional Transits' by Dennis Elwell. Astrological Journal Vol XX No.l. Winter 1977.
2 Draconic Astrology, Aquarian, 1987. Subsequently reissued by Pamela's 'Shoestring Press'
3 An Interview with Robert Hand - The Traditional Astrologer. No. 15 October 1997
4 The Birth of Christ - Pamela Crane (Shoestring. 1994); article by the same title in Astrological Journal Vol 37 No.3, May/June 1995
5 Pam's presentation in Dawn Kovan's Death of a Princess. Birth of a Legend - Sagicassette Y256, available from the AA.
6 Some sources of asteroid information: Asteroid Name Encyclopaedia - Jacob Schwartz (Llewellyn. 1995)
The Minor Planet Circular.
For software to calculate asteroid positions, contact:
Mark Pottenger, 838 5th Ave, Los Angeles. CA 90005, USA (tel 213-487-1000; fax 213-487-7853.)
The Swiss Ephemeris. (Astrodienst website.)
Also worth investigating is the Dance of the Planets program by Arc Science Simulations, PO Box 1955, Loveland. Colorado, USA (tel 800-759-1642; fax 970-667-1105; website www.arcinc.com)
For anyone who doesn't have a computer, listings of asteroid positions are available from: Roxana Muise, PO Box 7105, Bellevue. WA 98008-1105 USA. Roxana also runs an asteroid special interest group.
Apologies if any of the above contact addresses and numbers are out of date! This interview was published in the AA Journal over 10 years ago. Garry’s fascinating book duly appeared in the year 2000 (pub. Flare, UK) and is one of my favourites, a tour de force which absolutely paid off.