Category Archives: SOTA 2017

SOTA 12 July 2017

Hi Everyone,

I don’t know where the summer is going, but it seems to be moving very rapidly for me and pretty much everyone else I know. I hope you’re all enjoying the weather as much as I am, but I also hope you will take time  to share SOTAnews with your friends. Doing so will help them get in at a cheaper rate than the at-door rate. If will also ensure that they can make travel plans and grab a hotel room.

Hotel Rooms

…Speaking of which, if you haven’t reserved your hotel room, you need to do that soon. Just call the hotel at 1-800-523-3331 and tell them you’re with SOTA. You will find that this hotel aims to please, so if you want a room on a particular floor or next to an elevator let them know and they will do their best. Ditto if you get there and find the room too hot, too cold, too dark, or otherwise not to your liking. That said, some complaints just can’t be fixed. For example, last year a woman complained that the toilets were too high. Truly! That one probably can’t be fixed. If you’re short, you probably have to accept that some things go with the territory of being short and find your own work-arounds. Mind you, I’m fairly short and I’ve had no trouble with too-high toilets or tables or chairs or anything else. So I don’t think most of you have a great deal to worry about. Do mention you’re with SOTA when you call, though, as we have a discount. Why pay more???

Panel Discussion: Traditional / Modern

Now as you know, astrologers argue — about house systems, techniques, philosophies, and pretty much all else.  Sometimes they argue against things without even trying them; other times they have explored and rejected certain things. I am all for that latter stance so long as you keep in mind that what works for you may not work for me. It really IS ok to do things differently and a lot of times “what works” is based on your own philosophy and wiring. There are many systems I don’t use for one reason or another and I’m sure there are things I use that you may not. And that should be ok…

With that in mind, we’ve set up a panel featuring four very competent astrologers who may give you some new ideas as they discuss their work. Here’s a description:

Something Old / Something New:
Where traditional and modern meet

Friday, 4:30-5:30

This panel discussion explores the intersection of astrological perspective — in this case the intersection of traditional and modern astrology. This is going to be a “both/and” look at the conversation we are having as astrologers, whether we know it or not. We hope you’ll come and add to the discussion, no matter what type of astrology you do…

Some years ago, I was totally averse to traditional astrology. I mean why would you not use the modern planets? And why would you use techniques from bygone times? This is, after all, the 21st century. Times have changed. But so has my mind. And what changed it? A valedictory address by Chris Brennan at a Kepler grad. At that time I only knew of Chris as a strong proponent of Hellenistic/traditional astrology. So imagine my surprise when he said in his speech that his first reaction to having to study the classical tradition was “Why?” At that time, he was committed to psychological astrology and had no interest in learning traditional. But he DID want to graduate from Kepler. So he had no choice but to study traditional because it was a part of the curriculum. The rest is history.

My thought at the time was that if Chris Brennan could be made a convert, maybe there was something here I needed to explore. So I tried to open my mind and make room for some traditional. Initially without much success, I might add. Some time after that, I discovered a book called Introduction to Traditional Natal Astrology by Charles Obert. He is a modern astrologer who has studied with a great many of the traditional astrologers, including Brennan. And he’s also a Uranian (or as some of them call themselves now, a Spherical). And he very clearly demonstrated that there are many traditional techniques that complement modern astrology. So you don’t have to be either/or. You can, if your mind is open, draw from both traditions. (And yes, this book will be available at the book table if it sounds interesting to you.)

There’s no need for mudslinging. We can all coexist. And better yet, we can learn from others, assuming our minds are not closed to everything but our own voice and  ego. Really, that’s what conferences are about. Learning from one another. And if you don’t get something new to try at each conference, you’re probably doing yourself a disservice.

Also note that if something Julie Simmons, Tamara Small, Wade Caves or Jessica Lanyadoo says really resonates with you, you can hear them in their own lectures elsewhere during the conference. However, Tamara will be on before the panel, Friday at lunchtime. So you might want to  check her out beforehand when there’ll be food for the mind as well as food for the body. Her topic, strictures of judgment, would be of particular interest to you horary astrologers…

So come to this panel and stick your two cents in (well, it would have to be a nickel Canadian, since we no longer have pennies). But if the purpose of a conference is to learn new things, chances are that as you learn, someone may be learning from you too.

Just bring your open mind.

Oh, and bring your friends, too. New faces and new voices are always good…

There will be no newsletter next week as I’m traveling to Ann Arbor. And while Pam and I may do some SOTA stuff, part of the plan is to eat, hang out, see crafts, and relax.

I’ll be back in early August, if not before.



SOTA 7 July 2017

Hi Everyone,

Opening Reception and Keynote

OK, I’ve had some questions about the Opening and Keynote, so let’s start with those. First of all, the opening reception will feature an attractive array of hot and cold nibblies and yes, there will be something for the vegetarians. There will also be a cash bar. And there will be seating; this is not a cocktail party.

And somebody  asked “What if you don’t know anybody?” Don’t worry;just sit down where there’s a free seat. This is a very friendly crowd, and  by the time the evening’s over, you no doubt WILL know some  people. In fact, the opening has been described as one of the best places to meet people.

David’s talk is one that is geared to all levels. He’s going to describe a  couple of astrological paths —  the roller-coaster and the merry-go-round — drawing on his experience, which is plentiful. If you’ve been studying for more than a month, yes, you will be able to relate. David is both  entertaining and thought-provoking. We are very lucky to have him doing the keynote.

However, a word of caution to you fence-sitters. Yes, you have to be registered for this unless you have a  deluxe package. In that case the opening and keynote are included. We have to order food, and we need to do that before the day of the opening. You CAN wait and see if there have been cancellations, but if there haven’t been, you will be out of luck. So no, you can’t just show up and decide to attend. Sorry, but since we  have to plan ahead, so do you. And yes, it will be worth the effort.

Divination Night

Then  on to Friday  and Divination Night. At the moment we have 9 readers, and I am hoping to hear from a tenth.  Our 9 readers are: Franco  (runes), Cassandra Butler (mediumship), Judy Conkel, (numerology), Lorraine Hughes (eclectic psychic), Patty Mac (crystal ball), John Marani (Tarot), Mj Patterson (dukkering, which  is  fortune-telling with  playing cards), and Dawn  Silver (gemstone oracle).

We are currently holding a space for Pat Beers, whom some of you know from the trade room, as well. And if I’ve left anybody of the list, my apologies in advance. Please let me know and I’ll put a correction in the next SOTAnews. This list has changed several times over the course of things, and meanwhile Neptune is sitting on my Sun, so brain-fog is entirely possible. Meanwhile, we are going to need at least one more reader. If any of you do astro-dice, psychometry, face-reading, or whatever, and would like to be one of our divine diviners, please contact me and I’ll fill you in.

Meanwhile, if you have signed up for this, or if you have a deluxe package, you are eligible for one 10-minute reading. But since the tables only hold 8 people max, it will be up to you to sign up for the reader of your choice. We will have sign-up sheets available at the reg desk from 5:30 onwards and at the event from 6:30 onwards. Obviously early sign-up is better, since it will guarantee your choice of reader. In the event that your reader’s table is full or if you don’t know who you want to go to, we will try to put you with someone who is a good fit.

And since ALL of these people are good, you don’t need to worry about getting a lousy reader! Readings are all 10-minutes each. Should you want an additional 10 minutes, you can sign up for it for an additional $15.00 and get one on the spot once the tables are  finished at 8:30.

Or if you’d really rather have a longer reading, you can make arrangements to get one in the trade room; ask your reader about fees and availability. Pat Beers, Lorraine, and Patty Mac will be in  the trade room for the duration. We have set aside space for others to come in and do readings by appointment. So there’s no reason for you not to be well-read!

Oh, and there will be coffee, tea, fruit, and cookies at divination night for your munching enjoyment. And you don’t have to be pre-registered. Just be aware that if you show up at 6:55, your choice may be limited.

Featured Speaker: Franco

Leading up to divination night, you can hear a lecture by none other than Franco. And yes, it’s on The Viking Runes. Here’s a description:

Alphabet of the Gods — The Viking Runes

Imagine taking the letters of the alphabet and attaching a deity to each one, affixing a divinatory meaning, and then throwing in some magical effects. What you’ll have is the Viking Runes. The Runes have intricate and complex meanings. This workshop will  allow you to dip your toes in the vast sea of the runes and see if you like the water…

Franco is, among other things, one of the few people I would call a rune master. This is one of his prime areas of  expertise, though he is no slouch when it comes to Tarot or astrology either. Actually, in the first bio I  got from Franco, he described himself as sort of a Renaissance man, and now that I know him, I would say he is definitely as described.

An engineer, a world traveller as part of his job, a musician, a rune master, a Tarot reader, an astrologer and astro-researcher (he is Alphee Lavoie’s right hand man over in ‘GatorLand), a pagan, and besides that one of the nicest — and funniest — people you’d ever want to me. So come to this lecture and then go see him in action and get a rune reading at Divination Night.

Franco is also in charge of our banquet entertainment. He has pulled many, many rabbits out of his hat for this one — and as I said last time, I never know what he’s doing until the last minute. So while we’ll talk about the banquet, I’ll have to be a bit vague about entertainment except to say it’s invariably good and very funny.


OK, more next week. And hopefully by then we’ll have another reader.

Stay cool,



SOTA 21 June 2017

Hi All,

An alert for those of you not already registered: Fees go up June 22. REGISTER NOW. Wendy will  be waiting for you. I  know lots of you are trying to hold on to your money as long as possible this year, but it’s really false economy to hang on to it now in order to pay more later. Rates AREN’T going to go down. So if you snooze, you’re gonna lose…

Featured Speaker: Ellen Bourn

Last time I promised to update you on who is replacing Jodie Lindley, who had a scheduling conflict. It will be none other than Ellen Bourn. And yes, she’s giving us a Saturn topic: Saturn: Self-Mastery or Self-Sabotage? Here’s the description:

Lecture: Saturn: Self-Mastery or Self-Sabotage?

Saturn has long been referred to as the planet of Karma in one’s Natal Horoscope. What does this really mean on a metaphysical level? What does this mean one needs to learn in order to achieve mastery of the Inner Self and External Life Circumstances? Will you view your life through the lens of wisdom or the lens of inhibition? The choice is yours. Learn how to select your best option.

As most of you know, Ellen is an  astrologer who likes to explore karmic themes. You can be pretty sure  she’ll  do this in this lecture. And you can be sure she’ll be both clear and thorough.

Featured Speaker: Grace K. Morris

And since we were talking  about things like holding onto your money, let me remind you that one of our speakers will be talking about The Stock Market and The Economy.   And no, this isn’t a  US-centric lecture;  what she has to say will also be of  relevance and interest to you Canadians.

Pre-Conference: The Stock Market and the Economy

Grace has successfully forecast the direction of the economy for over 30 years. Picking favorable sectors and winning stocks, accurately predicting interest rates, inflation/deflation cycles, and real estate values has proven profitable for her clients and subscribers. She will share with you the resources she uses so that you, too, can profit.

And I will mention that Grace is accessible. You will not be intimidated by market terms you don’t understand. She explains thoroughly. If the global economy interests you, this could be very much worth your while, even if you’re sitting on the Trumpless side of the border…

Pre-Conference: Greg Bogart

And Greg Bogart will doing a Pre-Conference  just before Grace. More about him  next time except to say that if you’re interested in Jungian psychology and astrology, you might want to plan on making a day of it and hearing him too…

Trade Room

Last but not least, let’s have  a look at our trade room to date:

As you might expect, both Astrolabe and Cosmic Patterns  will be in attendance. The latter  booth will again be ably staffed by Fei and sometimes David Cochrane. Astrolabe will be staffed by Mj Patterson.

Now Mj is going to be speaking and I suspect that she will  also be attending some lectures,  so you may need to make an appointment to sit down with her. There will be a sign-up book on the table, so you can do just that. And yes, I know this isn’t ideal, but it was the best we — and Astrolabe — could do.

Silver Raven Soap will be back again too, and there is a rumor that they may have some  new  goodies this year. These soaps are both inexpensive and an absolute treat. And Lisanne and Rob are  both  pleasant and knowledgeable to deal with.

We are also hoping to have Keyhole Gallery back. Therese Taylor is the one who had those intention dolls last year, as well so some funky jewelry.

And in terms of gems and minerals, we have someone new this year. Barr’s Gems and Treasures is run by Steve and Lynn Barr. They have a fairly wide array of minerals in addition to jewelry. So check them out — I think you may like them.

Also new this year is our bookseller, Earth Haven Learning Centre, run by Kathryn Aunger and Rosemary Tayler (and no, that isn’t a typo; that’s how her name is spelled). In addition to selling books, Kathryn also has a farm which sells organic food and promotes sustainable farming. Rosemary is an astrologer and an herbalist, and some of you may remember her as an attendee years ago. These ladies do more than I can describe here, so you may want to  check them out at

Meanwhile, I can tell you they will be stocking calendars (including their own gardening calendar) and datebooks, books on herbs, and some good astrology books, including a full range of books by our speakers. What you may not find this year are used books — sorry about that — but you will  find a lot of relatively hot off  the press titles, including  some hard-to-find titles.

And yes, we will have readers. Pat Beers will be back, for starters. Joining her will be Lorraine Hughes (after a long absence where she was much missed), and Patty Mac, who did some enjoyable presentations for us last year. We will also have a “floating reader’s table” in the event  that some of you either a) can’t get to the reader of your choice at divination night, or b) want a longer reading than divination  night is set up for.

There may be others in the trade room as well, as right now I have a couple of fence-sitters. However, their time  on  the fence may be limited, as space will be released as of June 31. You know who you are, folks. To you I say snooze and you’ll lose. Time to put your money where your mouths are.

Also note that the trade room is very definitely open to  the public. In fact, we welcome the public. So please share this newsletter with your friends.

And on that note, I’ll see you next time.



SOTA 11 June 2017

Hi Everyone,

Lots of news again this issue. Having trouble knowing where to begin in fact….

Hotel WiFi

As mentioned last time, I DID visit the hotel and they appear to be ready for us. The wifi has been upgraded and my roommate had no problems whatsoever with it. I didn’t bring my laptop, so obviously I didn’t have complaints either, but since we were in the same room, I would say the problem is resolved.

Hotel Food

There was MUCH discussion of food, and I will begin working on the menu shortly. Meanwhile, I have noted that we are not the first group to complain about the salt issue. The chef has been put on  salt rationing and I hope this problem will be resolved too.

As for the roast beef, I am exploring options, but the easiest option might be not to HAVE roast beef. I’ll keep you posted.

As for you vegans, you need to contact me so I know how many of you there are. If there are enough, we will have a vegan buffet option and Dawn Silver has offered to help me with this, since I am a carnivore. If there aren’t enough vegans, they we will look for a nice vegetarian option for the buffet instead and you vegans will get special meals (though if there are things on the buffet that work for you, you can take those too.

Please remember, however, that not EVERYONE is vegetarian or vegan. We try to please everyone, but right now the carnivores outnumber the vegetarians. And we DO have a budget. So don’t expect a totally vegetarian meal. And you vegetarians could help me by letting me know if you’re vegetarian. Should there be a vegetarian majority, we will alter the menu accordingly. Otherwise, it will be one GOOD main, plus salad and rice or potatoes and other veggies.

Opening Ceremonies – Please RSVP

And still on the subject of food, if you are planning on attending the Opening Ceremonies and keynote, it will be necessary to preregister for it. We sometimes have tickets available at the door, but this is only in the event of cancellation so I wouldn’t be counting on that if I were you.

Once the day comes, all I can order for extra  food is things like chips and pretzels. And we want everyone to have decent food. So be forewarned on that one and reserve early. Note that if you have a deluxe package or are a vendor (one vendor per table) or staff you are already reserved for this.

If you have a full package, single day(s) or pre-conferences, you are not. And yes, you can come for just the opening if you want to, but again you have to reserve.

Featured Speaker: David Cochrane

…And what will you be missing if you don’t attend? Aside from the food, there will be a WONDERFUL keynote with David Cochrane. David was one of our more popular speakers last year. This lecture will be light (as befits an opening reception) but also thought-provoking. Just in case you missed it the first time, here it is again.

The Astrologer’s Journey: Roller Coasters and Merry-Go-Rounds

David will share with us how his passion for astrology has resulted in a life-long roller coaster ride. On the other hand, some astrologers are enjoying a pleasant ride on a merry-go-round. David illustrates his points with humorous stories that also have some serious implications for how we can best pursue astrology and best serve our clients.

Hotel – Reserve Your Room NOW

And speaking of the hotel, this would be a good time to reserve your room. As you know, we do not get a large block of rooms, and once they are gone they are gone. So call the hotel at 1-800-323-3331 NOW and tell them you’re with SOTA.

Divination Night

Meanwhile, somebody asked me what has happened to the mediums. Well, we have had mediums every year for the last 5 years or so. Maybe longer. And there are other forms of divination. So this year we thought we’d feature some of those — runes (Franco), dukkering (Mj Patterson), tarot (John Marani), gemstone oracle (Dawn Silver), crystal ball (Patty Mac),  Cassandra Butler (topic TBA), numerology (Judy Conkel) and more.

We would be happy to add a medium to this list if one would like to volunteer (you know who you are). And if any of you have other talents not listed here and would like to share them, let me know. Face reading? Tea leaf reading? Handwriting analysis?

I bet a LOT of you have interesting skills. And while you DO have to do approximately 8 10-minute readings at no charge, this gets your skills out there and in fact, we will save a space in the trade room for those who are asked to do readings during the rest of the conference.

Additionally, we’re working on a system so that people can get a second reading that night for a small fee. So don’t be shy. Volunteer. Let people know about your talents! And become a bigger part of the SOTA community. Drop me a note if you’re interested, huh? And no, you don’t have to be a speaker to do this; you just have to have a skill…

Volunteer – we can’t do this without you!

OK, I hope I’ve given you some things to think about — and I hope to hear from some of you about food, divination night, or anything else you might want to talk about — including topics and possible speakers for 2018.

We are a community, and in a community people work together to make things happen. For example, we now have 2 new monitors — Winston and Dina Knocton. This didn’t happen because I knew them. It happened because another monitor — Marina George — knew them and asked if they’d be interested.

People like Marina are worth their weight in gold. And people like Franco, who is game for everything. And people like Dawn Silver, who has been hugely helpful on many fronts. This, folks, is how things happen. And yes, it’s a bit of work for you, but the satisfaction of seeing things happen can be great.

I can’t do this single-handedly. Nor can Pam or Sara or Wendy. They all have their own work to do — and right now Wendy is standing with a baseball bat, ready to ward off hackers.

So give it some thought, huh? And get in touch if appropriate.

Meanwhile, have a good week!




SOTA 4 June 2017

Hi Everyone,

Lots of news and  a few requests for help/information. Dig in…

Monitor Needed

First of all, it appears we need another monitor. Yes, again. The last call was filled very promptly (thank you Marina and Dina — and Dina welcome aboard) but last night I was informed that one of our regulars cannot make it this year. So we need yet another one.

The ideal candidate would be someone who is not as yet registered for the conference and can be available from the evening of October 18 (for the training, which is non-negotiable) through to October 23. And it goes without saying that you also need to be prompt and reasonably friendly. Now reality is that you may not be needed on the 23rd and may not be needed until the evening on the 19th but until I have a full contingent of monitors, I can’t set a schedule and therefore can’t give you yours.

The work is relatively easy — checking badges and taping — but we DO  have a protocol. Hence the training. For the right person, this is a good way to get a FREE conference including possibly free Pre or Post Conference lectures, free lunch, and a free banquet, depending on what sessions you’re selected to work. And yes, we will try to see that you get a couple of your preferred lectures, though I can’t guarantee that. Still, free is very nice. We may even be able to help you find a roommate, though I can’t guarantee that.

Interested? Email me… Given that the $100 Full Conference Special has now expired, this is probably your last chance to get a cheap conference. Maybe even a free one… And yes, by all means share this with your friends!

SOTA 2018

Secondly, even though this year hasn’t happened yet, we are getting a tentative start on next year. Why? Because it’s a UAC year and historically people simply can’t afford to do both UAC and SOTA. Our aim is to give people an alternative to UAC, which is large and expensive. We can’t afford to bring you 150 speakers, but we are taking pains to bring you the speakers and topics you want to see. We still have a lot of decisions to make and are hoping you’ll be willing to help.

First of all, should we keep the same format as this year or possibly go to mostly 2-hour lectures for next year only? Some people like quality and depth; others like quantity. UAC will be having only hour-and-a-quarter lectures, so more depth is something we can do if you want it. On the other hand, if you like the format as it is, we’ll leave it alone.

And that brings us to speakers and topics. We already know that several of our 2017 SOTA lecturers will also be lecturing at UAC. We expect the same will hold true for 2018. So what speakers do YOU want to see??? Let me know. Big names or less big names. We’re easy, so long as they draw. Please don’t suggest yourself, though. That really doesn’t tell us much except that you want to speak.

Third, what about topics? For the past couple of years we’ve had heavy doses of traditional and psychological. Do these still appeal, or do you want something else. And if you want something else, what else? Research??? Professional development topics such as creating web sites and marketing??? Medical astrology, addictions, and similar topics??? Basic planet/sign/house stuff??? Aspect theory??? Specialties???

Tell us what you’d like to see and we’ll do our best to provide it. Just email me. It doesn’t have to be a major missive — just a few words as to what you want.

And rest assured that we will be working to keep the cost as low as we can. And we will announce what we’re doing at the conference. Oh, and by the way, remember that if you’re registered this year, you are also eligible to take advantage of the attendees-only rate for 2018, which is even lower than the early bird rate.

Need a Webmaster?

On to the news: First of all, as some of you may already know, Wendy Guy was responsible for thwarting a major hack on our website, for which I am very grateful. Not only did she know what software to use, she stays vigilant and does a fair bit of blocking of suspicious addresses. I couldn’t do this without her. And if you’re trying to do a website single-handedly, you may need a Wendy too. In fact, our Wendy has openings in her schedule for a couple more clients. Again, contact me and I’ll put you in touch with her. I’ll also vouch for her work. She’s prompt, efficient, and knows what she’s doing! And I couldn’t do this without her!


Also, I am happy to report that Barr’s Gemstones and Treasures will be our gem and mineral vendor this year. They will be joining Earth Haven Learning Centre (books), Silver Raven Soaps, and probably  Keyhole Gallery. At the moment I’m still waiting for some cheques, but will confirm the whole roster of vendors in the next issue.

I am headed out to the hotel on Tuesday for a site inspection, so will probably have more to report on that next time as well.

Featured Speaker: Adam Gainsburg

Meanwhile, I promised you I’d fill you in on Adam Gainsburg’s post-conference. Actually, Adam will also be participating in the main conference, doing a lecture on Lunar Nodes and their Dispositors on Sunday. And then on Monday, he’ll be presenting a 3-hour post-conference on Heliacal Saturn Phases. Here’s a description:

Post-Conference: Heliacal Saturn Phases

My post-conference will be on the heliacal Phases of Saturn as signifying a broader responsibility we each carry for serving or upholding a better society (Saturn-Sun). I have formed this system of phases on the same principles as Venus and Mars — what I call Saturn’s Sky Factors – its unique brightness cycles, speed changes, etc. — rather than its chart factors alone. This workshop will first present Saturn’s Phases, then demonstrate how to integrate natal Saturn with phasal Saturn for the complete picture of a native’s Saturn dharma. I’ll use attendee charts for this.

Sound good? I’m sure it will be. And note that he  will be using attendee’s charts for this.

As mentioned last week, Adam will be following Gary Caton, who will be presenting The Mercury Elemental Year. This is two of your favorite presenters back-to-back with 3 hour presentations! How often does this happen??? If I were you, I’d take advantage before June 22 when the rates increase. At $100 US, this is a steal — and it WON’T be the same old material. So why not sign up now and save money??? You can’t go wrong with these.


You can expect the next newsletter around June 11 or thereafter, and you can probably expect more news.

Until then, enjoy the nice  weather.