Nina Gryphon, NCGR Membership Director, is conducting a series of interviews with Advisory Board Members. The twenty-first to appear is with symmetrical astrologer Madalyn Hillis-Dineen.
Nina: How did you first get into astrology?
Madalyn: I guess the short answer is astrology got into me. Here's the long answer: Growing up in NYC, we didn't get to see too many stars. I remember being in upstate NY with my parents--I was probably around 10--and looking up at the sky and telling my mother I wanted to work with the stars. She suggested that I could become an astro-physicist. Somehow, I knew I wouldn't. I began being interested in astrology in my teens, but didn't seriously pursue it until my late 20s when an astrologer (Gary Christen) came into my life via my ex-husband's chiropractic office. I had my chart done and was amazed at what he could tell me about myself. I had stopped working, having just had a baby, and had time on my hands. I began to study and, as they say, the rest is history. I remember Gary telling me after my third or fourth class that he thought I'd be a big deal in astrology one day (still waiting) and maybe even sit on the NCGR Board (that did happen).
Nina: How did you start a practice?
Madalyn: Like many astrologers, I started doing charts for friends. Word soon spread. I was able to transition into a full-time astrology practice when I became Executive Secretary of NCGR. The stipend that I was paid to run the national headquarters helped to supplement my astrological income, which in addition to clients, consisted of writing for various publications. In the beginning, I also did some advertising and lectured for women's groups and the like. These days, I work at Astrolabe, the astrological software company, as well as consulting, teaching, and lecturing.
Nina: Do you have any advice or guidance to astrologers who are starting a practice now?
Madalyn: Find a system or tools and apply them consistently. This is key. For me, it was Uranian (now Symmetrical Astrology). There are so many tools and techniques, so you need to really manage your time. There is no way you can cover absolutely everything in a session but, if you can give clients what they need at that moment, you will have provided a good service.
Also, avoid getting into long conversations while making the appointment. I can remember hearing a birth date and starting to comment just from the date. Sometimes, the person would hear what they needed to know and then not keep the appointment or not make it at all.
Finally, have set appointment times, fees, etc., and stick to them. Of course, you can do some pro bono work or give discounts from time to time. But, it is best to run your astro business just as you would any other business.
Nina: What exciting projects (books, research, astrological interests) are you currently working on?
Madalyn: I've been teaching an Astro*Carto*Graphy course for Kepler College and will be developing a course on Uranian astrology for them. I'm looking forward to lecturing at an astrological conference in Portugal in February 2017. And, of course, the work I do at Astrolabe is always exciting. Topping the list is a Mac version of Solar Fire.
After more than 30 years of service to NCGR on both a local and national level, including coordinating two successful national conferences (Baltimore in 2007 and Boston in 2010) and two UACs (2008, 2012), I am happily retired from the world of astro-politics and have turned my attention to volunteering in various capacities in my community. I'm using the skills I acquired as an NCGR volunteer (leadership skills, negotiating, event planning, desktop publishing) to benefit some worthy causes, and I feel very good about it. When I contribute to my community, I hope that I am also representing myself as an astrologer in such a way as to give a favorable impression of our profession and, perhaps, help to change some negative opinions about astrology along the way.
Nina: What do you see as the epoch-making astrological shift of our times, and why? Many point to the Uranus-Pluto square, while others focus on the precessional shift of the Spring Equinox into Aquarius.
Madalyn: The Uranus-Pluto square of 2012-2015 seems to have certainly changed the landscape on a global level. Of course, we can look at the entire cycle and go back to the '60s, which were groundbreaking in their own right. At that point, the Beatles talked about "Revolution" and there were significant changes. But, as much as things changed, they fundamentally stayed the same. The '80s saw an unprecedented revival of greed and reversal of some of the monetary policies that kept the playing field sort of even. As Uranus continues through Aries and Pluto continues through Capricorn, will we see the gap widening between the very rich and everyone else? Or, will the 99% finally be fed up enough to demand a change and transformation of our monetary system. Time will tell but, for me, this is the question. Will we finally see the "revolution" that we talked about in the '60s?
Madalyn Hillis-Dineen began her study of astrology with the Uranian system in 1979 and has taught, lectured, and practiced Uranian (Symmetrical Astrology) techniques for more than 30 years; she is also a certified Astro*Carto*Graphy interpreter and is a CA NCGR-PAA. She has written for a variety of publications, StarIQ.com, and is a contributor to the Llewellyn anthology, Astrology for Women: Roles and Relationships. In 1994 Madalyn joined Astrolabe Software as their Director of Marketing. An active leader in the astrological community, Madalyn is the winner of the 1995 UAC Regulus Award for Community Service, the winner of the NCGR Sisyphus Award in 2012, was the national Chair of NCGR from 2005-2011, and one of the coordinators of UACs 2008 and 2012. Her website is www.capecodastrologer.com.