Friday, May 06, 2022

Embodying the Sky Spirits

 I do Astrology. And I also do Shamanism. They are both in my bones, and they don't feel separate. Shamanism tells us that we belong to the natural world, and that world is alive, it is inspirited. That includes rocks and water. And the sky: that is where astrology comes in. If you are an astrologer, then your spirits - at least, some of them - are in the sky.

The ancients knew this. The sky spoke to them. Nowadays, we have to make a case for it. The sky spirits tell us stories about ourselves. When we do a reading for someone, we are passing on some of those stories, because we have the gift of listening to the sky. The sky stories about other people also speak to us. There can be sky stories about the world too: that is mundane astrology.

In a way, it is no different to reading a novel or watching a film. They too tell us stories, they may be about other people, but they are also about ourselves, which is why they grip us. The novelists and film directors are also passing on stories from the spirits, but they wouldn't put it like that, not nowadays. Maybe they don't have words for where the stories come from, or maybe they call it the Unconscious. Whatever they call it, it is a special place, a sacred place, even, that creative centre in you from where the stories come unbidden.

As an astrologer, you get a sense of the planets speaking through you. You can't pin it down, and you can't say exactly what came from your head and what came from the planets/spirits. It's not like that. But they are there as presences, one way or another. This is inspiration, which means to breathe in: we are breathing in spirit.

I offer Zoom astrology readings, by donation. Contact: BWGoddard1 (at) My books, Surfing The Galactic Highways and The Medicine Wheel are available for pre-order on Amazon (or by post from me now.)

Astrology easily becomes cerebral, because it is a complex subject. There are ten different planets, 12 Houses, 12 Signs, and a range of aspects between the planets. There are also any number of asteroids and techniques.

Complexity gives us more information, it gives us nuance. But it easily also takes us away from the felt symbolism. The stronger you are feeling the symbolism, the more the sky spirits can speak through you. In a way, you don't need more than the Sun and the Moon. We have such a strong relationship with them, that goes back hundreds of thousands of years. When we tell sky stories, we are also drawing on their collective power that has built up over time, which is a mysterious and wonderful thing. 


 If you call your chart to mind, and picture where the Sun and the Moon were on the sky at the moment you were born, that will tell you something that is both simple and powerful. You may not have words for it, but in a way that doesn't matter. It is the feeling of connection to that powerful god and powerful goddess that matters.

 Everything you need to know about yourself is in that felt sense. That sense of the planets is physical, visceral. This is something we can be shying away from in the retreat into complexity. It is easier to juggle concepts in our head: the felt sense makes demands of us, and maybe we can only take so much of that.

 For myself, this is where Shamanism comes in. Shamanism takes the spirits seriously. It would have no truck with anyone attempting to make astrology 'scientific', as though these magical stories can be reduced to simple, repeatable concepts that validate our art. That is a grotesque idea. It disrespects the spirits. It is hubris.

But even with Shamanism, we are limited by our cultural background, that in the Middle Ages divided Body and Spirit, and then perpetuated that division through the modern scientific split between Body and Mind. The split came about because people used to dance in churches. I kid you not, it seems so unlikely. But that is what they did in the Middle Ages, alongside the priest. (See 'Dancing in the Streets: a History of Collective Joy' by Barbara Ehrenreich.) When you dance, you become inspirited, you feel your own connection to the divine. And if you are trying to control people, as any religion worth the name will attempt to do, you can't have people making their own connection to the divine. So dancing was banned, and the body became the realm of the devil. Or, nowadays, the 'dead' matter that is the vehicle for our consciousness.

Not only did they ban dancing. Astrology too was proscribed as a practice that summoned demons. And of course, they were right. Astrology done properly does indeed summon the spirits, the gods, and they were seen as competition by the church.

Modern Shamanism exhibits the Body-Spirit split through the way contacting the spirits is taught: through lying still while a drum is beaten. It works, I am not dissing it. But Shamans in the far East dance when they go to the spirits: or rather, the spirits dance them.

Any kind of ceremony we can do honouring the sky spirits before we do a reading, or even look at our own chart, will invoke this felt sense of the planets, which is also a sacred feeling. We don't talk about it lightly, and certainly not to those who dismiss astrology.

You can let the planets-as-gods move through you through movement or 'dance' (which isn't quite the correct word). If Pluto moves through you, welcome him, but be also in awe: he doesn't come lightly and is liable to be ruthless, even brutal, in the way he changes your life. But always so that new life can push through.

Pluto and Neptune are the two outermost, and most recently discovered, of the astrological pantheon. One is below ground, ruling the Underworld; the other is the Ocean. They are also, obviously, in the sky. But part of the meaning of their arrival, perhaps, is to take astrology away from an ascensionist model, and into one of immanence, of incarnation, of embodiment, in which Saturn also plays a key part.

I will be co-leading a 5 day event in North Wales from 22-27 June 2022, entitled 'Embodying the Spirits', in which we shall, hopefully be edging out of the old cultural divide between Body and Spirit and into the spirit dream of our bodies. The spirits love to be embodied. It is suitable both for people who work shamanically and astrologers, since we all work with spirits. There are still a few places left

This retreat will combine embodiment journeying, dream sharing, ceremony and walks in Snowdonia.

The venue will be Cae Mabon, a magical and jaw-droppingly beautiful eco-retreat in North Wales: a fairy-tale village hanging on a steep hillside, with stunning views across to Snowdon.

Barry Goddard has been involved with shamanic practices for 25 years, and before that Buddhism for 16 years. He has recently published two books: The Medicine Wheel, and an astrological book, Surfing the Galactic Highways. He lives on Dartmoor.

Emma Edgington lives near London where she teaches shamanic journeying and healing and is the creative director at Knowing Healing Hub.

Prices vary from £299-£369 p/p with the option to camp or book shared accommodation. A 50% deposit is required to assure your booking. Prices include food and accommodation.

For all enquiries and bookings please email Barry at

Saturday, April 16, 2022


I’ve just watched the 3-part BBC documentary on the Maxwell family. The final episode is about Robert Maxwell’s daughter Ghislaine. I had not realised just how prolific had been her procuring of young girls for Jeffrey Epstein to abuse and rape, and for how many years it went on. The girls were terrified to do anything apart from what Epstein and Maxwell ordered them to do. Ghislaine behaved in an exceedingly cruel manner, on behalf of her boyfriend, for a long time. She was able to charm young girls from poor areas to come with her, in a way that Epstein would not have been able to. It is hard to imagine that she did not derive pleasure herself from having these girls in her power. And she knew exactly what Epstein was going to do to them. She would give them orders to do exactly what Epstein wanted.

Epstein and Maxwell

I’m going to outline a few salient points from her chart, for which we have an accurate birthtime. I will attempt to explain some of her behaviour, without condoning it.

The first point to note is that she was arrested in July 2020 during her second Saturn Return. She was found guilty in Dec 2021 as Saturn made his final crossing to her MC. Saturn was also conjoining her Jupiter last December, and went on to oppose her Moon and North Node early this year. Saturn has been all over her chart. It has been the main theme. Under Saturn we reap the consequences of our actions. And maybe we learn from them. Saturn can also describe imprisonment.

Click to Enlarge

Ghislaine's natal Sun is in Capricorn (Saturn-ruled) in the 8th House. It is conjunct Mars in Capricorn. The 2 male planets in her chart show her attraction to older men of high status and achievement. They are trine to Uranus and Pluto, and do not make any hard aspects: her relationships with such men are therefore something she naturally slips into.

I offer Zoom astrology readings, by donation. Contact: BWGoddard1 (at) My books, Surfing The Galactic Highways and The Medicine Wheel are available for pre-order on Amazon (or by post from me now.)

The first was with her own father Robert. No doubt much will be made of that relationship in future books and films about her, and probably already has been. When he died on 5th Nov 1991, Jupiter had just trined her Sun, and was exactly on her Pluto. Jupiter is associated with death – he is king of the gods, and takes us back to himself – and this timing shows how her Sun-Pluto was connected with her father.

Ghislaine and Robert Maxwell

Ghislaine was her father’s favourite, and he named his yacht after her: the Lady Ghislaine. She lived her life in his orbit, and after his death soon took up with another rich, older man, Epstein, undertaking many of his practical tasks, as she had done for her father. Her shared life (8th House) with a high-status man (Sun in Capricorn.) The Sun often describes the long-term partner in the chart of a woman, with Mars being the type of man she is attracted to.

Her relationship with her father was a quasi-marriage, as it was with her Epstein, where the two only seem to have been sexually involved for a few years. Ghislaine's Sun-Mars was opposite her father's Mars-Pluto, which would have been very hard to stand up to. He was in love with her, needed her, indulged her, and how could she resist? Mars-Pluto made her father a kind of 'Demon Lover', as was Epstein. This is often a phase women go through, while their friends tear their hair out, what the fuck is she doing with that guy?

Ghislaine is a French name, originally from the German, meaning ‘sweet hostage’. I doubt Robert Maxwell knew the etymology of Ghislaine when he named her, but these things have power nonetheless. It is startling. 

This 'hostage' relationship to men is in her chart: her Sun is in the 8th, Pluto’s House. Pluto abducted a young woman, Ceres' daughter Persephone, and forcibly married her. Ghislaine allowed herself to be abducted by both her father and Epstein, never truly developing a life of her own, and was psychologically married to both of them. She in turn became the abductor. Abduction was what she understood. Maybe it was a kind of revenge for her own disempowerment. Her father unknowingly cursed her when he named her Ghislaine. He claimed her for his own.

Ghislaine has Moon square Ceres, suggesting a loss of her own womanhood in her abduction by men. This loss is further suggested by Moon square Neptune (as is the glamour, also Jupiter on the MC.) Her Moon-Neptune-Ceres-Jupiter Grand Cross overlays her father's Jupiter-Neptune-Ceres-Moon Grand Cross. They were that tight. She has never had her own family. When she was found guilty in December 2021, there was a Ceres-North Node conjunction in the sky, highlighting this abduction theme, not just for herself, but more widely for the young women concerned.

She will have many years in prison. Both her progressed Sun and Ascendant have changed signs in recent years. A whole long new phase of her life is beginning. Her Progressed Sun was in Capricorn until shortly before her father died: she was the good girl, living out the script her father had given her. 

Then it moved into Aquarius: she began to break the social rules with Epstein, in an egregious way. There is, interestingly, not much synastry with Epstein's chart (though we don't know his birth time). But his natal Sun is cusp Aquarius/Cap, where Ghislaine's Prog Sun had reached when they met: he  suited the phase she was entering. His Sun also conjoins her natal Saturn, suggesting a father figure for her, and her Saturnian influence on him as his arranger.

In recent years her Prog Sun has recently moved into Pisces: not my will, but thine. Her life will be under the control of others from now on – which, indeed, it always has been, in a sense – and she has lost everything, as can happen to Pisces. She may find some way of dominating others in prison. But she may also be punished by other women prisoners for the way she treated young girls.

Ghislaine now

You never know with people whether reflection and self-consciousness will arise. It is a mysterious thing. Ghislaine is deeply hidden from her own power, and has relied on powerful men. There is some deep psychological/archetypal work she will need to undertake if she is to change. Saturn is presiding over the start of this new phase, as the transits have shown. She will need to begin in a Saturnian way, by acknowledging what she has done, at least privately. She has caused a huge amount of pain, and that can be a very difficult thing to own. But with Prog Sun in Pisces, her old barriers will be coming down. Prison may give her the space from men that she needs to reflect on her actions.