Category Archives: SOTA 2014

SOTA News 19 Feb 2014

19 February 2014

Hi All,

And happy Sun in Pisces! You know what this means — spring is coming! And it can’t be soon enough to suit me this year…I am sick to death of wind and snow and cold. Here’s hoping we’ll be seeing the last of it soon and will get a gorgeous spring to make up for it.

Meanwhile, here’s the latest edition of SOTAnews. And this time I’d like to feature a couple of Toronto-area speakers — Kelly Surtees and Michael Barwick.

As you probably know already, Kelly will be doing the keynote, Purpose and Passion, at SOTA’s opening reception. But did you know she’s also lecturing in the main portion of the conference? Uh-huh. Here’s her topic:

The Fire of 2015

How Jupiter in Leo, Saturn in Sagittarius, and Venus retrograde in Leo combine with Uranus in Aries to provide a taste of the future. After a few years in yin territory, we great 2015 with a yang focus. This provides a preview of the longer elemental Saturn/Jupiter cycle, which shifts into air in December 2020. What does fire, which is hot and dry, offer? How can this element, which represents the choleric temperament, provide clues to the year ahead?

Kelly gained her earliest lecturing experience in Australia, where, judging from her reception at the FAA conference in Hobart, she is still a big hit. We are fortunate to have her here in Ontario. And if you haven’t heard her yet, I’m sure you’ll enjoy her.

…And yes, Michael Barwick is back! Back with a very hot topic too, I might add. Here it is:

Lead into Gold: Astrology and Alchemy

Like astrology, alchemy has ancient roots and rich symbolism, some of which it shares with astrology. The goals of alchemy sound distinct: the creation of the Philosopher’s Stone, the fame of which was most recently culturally exploited in the first novel in the Harry Potter series; an elixir of fire that confers youthfulness and longevity — sort of an ultimate Oil of Olay; and the ability to change base substances into nobler ones, such as the transformation of lead into gold. Common to all is a language of developmental procedures or stages whose symbolism can be used to enhance astrological interpretation. Michael will explore how a metaphorical understanding of alchemy applied to both natal and predictive astrology can result in true gold — the development of the living, conscious, authentic self.

Years ago when I started out in astrology, there was some discussion of the interface between alchemy and astrology. Then for many years, interest in alchemy languished. There now seems to be a resurgence and it would appear that Michael is right out there at the leading edge of it. If your orientation is spiritual, metaphysical, psychological, or philosophical, you might want to check this one out.


One of our requests for SOTA 2014 was “more Canadian speakers”. I’m happy to tell you that just under half of our speakers this year are Canadian, but I’ll be honest — I’d be happier still if that was exactly half. And while we’re on the subject of speakers, I would have liked a couple more from the Buffalo/Niagara/upstate New York area too. And I know there are willing volunteers out there, but we need to also do our best to make our attendees happy. That’s why we only consider experienced speakers.

What? You say you’re experienced? You say you gave a lecture a couple of years ago? Uh-huh. And nothing since??? OK, let’s define “experienced” so that we’re all on the same page. Experienced, to me, means that at minimum you’ve done 2 or 3 lectures of an hour in length or more for an astrological audience either at a conference, at your local astrological group, or perhaps at a school at a guest lecturer. And ideally, you’ve done one of those lectures in the past year.

Note that most of the lecturers on the SOTA roster have been out on at least the local circuit for 5 years or more. Some, like Kelly and Michael, have also lectured at other conferences. The more you lecture, the better you get. And we want good — because if our lecturers are not good our attendees — who pay for this conference with their registration fees — complain at best and become disenchanted and don’t return at worst.

Ok, you say you haven’t lectured for an astrology group, but you’ve lectured at a psychic fair, or at your Spiritualist Church, or for the local Parents Without Partners group? Or maybe you’ve been on radio or TV. Maybe you’ve even had your own show. That’s nice, but unfortunately it’s not the kind of experience we’re looking for.

Lectures at psychic fairs or for non-astrological venues tend to be entry-level at best. The audience is different, and the requirements are different. SOTA doesn’t even have a beginners’ track anymore. We want intermediate, advanced, or specialty topics. What draws raves at a psychic fair is apt to draw sneers and sighs of “Too basic” at SOTA.

As for lectures at the Spiritualist Church or non-astrological lecturing in general, if you’re looking for a slot in the Spirit Track or Astrology And… track, your expertise may very well stand you in good stead, but as far as the astrological tracks, it’s not what we’re looking for. The audiences are different, and while there MAY be some crossover, you are generally better off sticking to what you know. As for radio shows, those too are generally geared to the general public, and additionally tend to feature call-ins. Not the skills we’re looking for.

How about teaching? OK, there are definitely similarities between teaching and lecturing, though they are not identical. For one thing, I have found that teaching online is no guarantee of lecturing ability. For one thing, audiences like your presentation to be interactive. That means they expect you to put your notes down, stop reading from your PowerPoint, and make eye contact so they can get any confusions straightened around and any questions answered. Talking heads, no matter how good the information, put people to sleep.

For another thing, if you’re teaching and you run out of time, you just pick up where you left off next week. There IS no next week at a conference. And while nobody complains if you run 2-3 minute over time, if it’s more like 15-20 minutes, you are holding up the wheels of progress and annoying attendees, staff, and possibly other speakers alike. So if your experience is mainly the result of teaching, be aware of time constraints. That said, yes, if you are currently teaching a live (in-person) class and have an intermediate topic that you’d like to present, I wouldn’t mind hearing from you. It’s too late for this year, but next year the search will begin again.

If you DON’T have the experience you need, maybe it’s time to volunteer to lecture at your local group. If you don’t have a local group, maybe it’s time to start an astrology Meetup. Or maybe it’s time to start teaching or start teaching in person rather than on line.

For those of you who are interested in the ins and outs of getting a lecture slot, I am trying to put together a FAQ sheet. This probably won’t happen for a month or so, but if you want to receive it, let me know and I’ll send it when it’s ready. For the rest of you, thanks for reading and look for more SOTAnews next week.



SOTA News 9 Feb 2014

9 February 2014

Hi Everyone,

And a happy Mercury Retrograde to you! Speaking of which, Mercury may be going backwards, but SOTA is going forward, though we are building on the past to do that. How? By paying attention to what you asked for last year and bringing it back for 2014 if at all possible.

One person we’re bringing back is Adam Gainsburg. We got extremely positive feedback on his lectures AND his software last year, so he’ll be joining us again in 2014. His topic?

The Phases of Mars

Learn how the thirteen phases of Mars are delineated in natal and mundane work and discover the little-known celestial factors which link modern astrology to the very origins of astrological tradition. We will investigate each phase through the framework of our personal masculine dharma (residing in both women and men), Adam will demonstrate how knowledge of Mars’ sky factors combines with sound astrological delineation to greatly increase scope and accuracy in working with Mars’ higher manifestations.

While this lecture comes too late in the year to take advantage of its insights for this Mars retrograde, you’ll get plenty of information that will stand you in good stead for the next Mars retrograde in 2016. You’ll also get good insight into your own natal Mars phase. That’s priceless because Mars is not a planet everyone uses well. Especially some of us women who weren’t trained to use it at all.

Additionally, Adam will be in the trade room once again. He will not only have his books available; he will also be demonstrating his software, Intrepid and Sky Engine. If you are one of those people who longs for more of an interface between astrology and astronomy, you’ll love Adam’s programs. There is nothing else on the market like them — and yes, with this software, you can calculate your client’s Venus phases or Mars phases or pretty much any other phase you care to work with. So drop in and get a demo, get your book signed, or simply ask Adam about his work.

…And speaking of the trade room, we are now actively seeking vendors. A number are already confirmed —in addition to Adam, Billee Dommell and David Jordan of Sticks and Stones will be back with their wonderful array of jewelry and minerals, plus incense, astrology reports, and a few other goodies; Carol and Al Godzick of A-C Tapes will be back with recordings of all of the 2014 lectures and possibly some goodies from past conferences as well; we are expecting both Cosmic Patterns (Pam Gallagher and Mindy Whitt) and Astrolabe (vendor TBD) to be back, and Helene Arts will again be back as our official bookseller and will have an array of books for your perusal and purchase, including some out-of-print books. I am also actively contacting other vendors who have been recommended and am hoping we will have a good variety of wonderful things for you to treat yourself with or take home for a friend.

But that’s not all — we have readers, too. Lorraine Hughes, Patricia Beers, and Tim Brainard are committed to coming back, and I am hoping Navika will be back as well. Returning this year after a hiatus is Deirdre Norman, another excellent reader, who will be lecturing this year as well. We DO have space for one more reader. If you think that might be you, contact me and tell me a bit about yourself. If you think that might be someone you know, have them contact me and do likewise. And remember, the trade room is open to the general public, so if you have friends in the Niagara-Buffalo area, please spread the word.

Last but not least, Wendy Guy has done a wonderful job on the website, and Mercury retrograde or no, PayPal is up and running and waiting for your registration. Or if you prefer to pay by cheque or Interac, email me and we can arrange that too. Just remember that fees this year are in US funds, and that applies regardless of how you pay. I regret the inconvenience to those of you on this side of the border.

So check out the latest flyer (in the sidebar, at right), check out our website at, and if you have any questions, please email me. Mercury may be retrograde, but those prices are going to move forward come March 25. That’s not too far away. Register now and be done with it. Then you’ll be paid and will have more money to spend in the trade room when you get there.

Until next time, keep warm. And don’t forget to share SOTA News with your friends. Your willingness to spread the word makes a huge difference in terms of keeping us up and running.



SOTA News 2 Feb 2014

2 February 2014

Hello again,
…And Happy February. Here’s the latest installment of SOTAnews.

First of all, the website: Wendy Guy, our new webmistress, is currently fine-tuning things to make sure everything is working and reading right. We are hoping to go live with the website within the next 48 hours. You can check things out at and stand by to register on Wednesday or thereafter if not before. If you prefer to register by mail, you can send your cheque, made payable to Full Circle Seminars, to me at 35 Brock St., Suite #1405, Hamilton, ON L8L 4L7 Canada. A flyer is attached for your reference. Note that rates are listed in US funds. Unfortunately, if you are paying in Canadian funds — either by cheque or by email transfer — there will be a 10% surcharge to cover the exchange rate. I don’t like it either, but we simply can’t absorb the difference. Blame Harper…

Secondly, staff positions: At this time I am contacting last year’s staff to see who and how many will be back. It is possible that we will have one or two staff positions open, but I won’t know for sure until late March or early April, so please stay tuned. And Carol, maybe you can check with your crew and let me know. Aparna and the rest of you on the list, you can save me time by letting me know if you’re interested.

Third, vendors: Consider this first call for vendors. I already have confirmation from Billee Dommell of Sticks and Stones and also from Adam Gainsburg. We are hoping to have Helene Arts back as our bookseller and also hoping to have Astrolabe and Solar Fire back. Meanwhile, if you want to be a vendor, please drop me a note so I can pencil you in. Space is limited and it’s strictly first-come, first-served.

That said, we are open to new vendors and would love to have things requested by our attendees — herbal products, soaps, clothing, candles, decorative items for the office or living space, etc. We already have a wonderful selection of minerals and jewelry, and it appears we have plenty of software. So with that in mind, if you have a product to sell yourself or have a favorite craftsperson, let me know. I would mention that we’re hoping to get a complete listing of vendors on the website. You can help us do that by paying your fee early so we can guarantee you space.

Fourth, readers: We are hoping to have all of our readers from last year back. Additionally, Deirdre Norman will once again be joining us in the trade room as a reader when she’s not lecturing. And based on last year, we may have space for one more. So if you think you might be interested in reading, let me know and I’ll fill you in.


OK, announcements over. What about the program?

Well, as you know, Georgia Stathis is one of our pre-conference lecturers and will be presenting on Business Astrology — Basics and Beyond. This promises to be an excellent workshop by a seasoned presenter and we’re already getting registrations for it. But for those of you who can’t make it on Thursday, it’s worth knowing that Georgia will also be presenting on Friday. Her topic? Synodic Cycles… Here’s the description:

Synodic cycles push through time after making their original conjunction, continuing to trigger original events for the duration of the cycle. The faster of the two planets pushes through time, revealing events relating to the original moment and staying in place until the next conjunction; whether 12 years or 172 years, the cycle stays active for the entire time. Concrete examples will be presented in this 2-hour lecture.

Synodic cycles are hot right now. If you haven’t explored them, here’s your chance to do so with a pro.


Our other pre-conference presenter is Lynn Koiner. Her topic is Psychological Patterns of Disease and the Four Lobes of the Brain. Lynn will be exploring a very wide range of disease patterns and offering relevant information. And on Friday, she will finish off with a one-hour follow-up on Transits and Progressions in Medical Astrology. Here’s the description for that one:

Transits and Progressions in Medical Astrology – while this lecture will discuss the medical issues that can be triggered by the transits and progressions, the information is not solely medical but a detailed discussion of transits and progressions in general. Lynn will discuss the medical implications occurring with the current Uranus-Pluto transits.

Lynn assures me that you can get something out of this one-hour lecture even if you can’t make the pre-conference.


And last but not least, Janet Markham will be back, after being unable to join us last year. As you regulars know, Janet is a very solid presenter and a popular Toronto-area teacher and consultant. Her topic is Relationships and Myth. Here’s the description:

A starting point in examining relationship potential begins with what each individual is able to bring to the table. Not only the dynamics of the natal chart but the individual’s birth mythology. This talk offers a look at the different components of the birth mythology — planetary, collective, social, family, and individual.

Janet’s lectures are always jam-packed with useful information that students and consultants can use. This one will be no different.


These are only 3 of a dozen lectures on Friday — and that doesn’t include the luncheon lecture with Brad Kochunas. And we’ve got more of the same on Saturday and Sunday. So why not join us — just for Friday or for the whole conference as your time permits. We’re small, we’re friendly, we’re fun and we do our best to bring you top-notch presenters with fresh new presentations. If you haven’t attended before, do yourself a favor and try us. You just might like us and become a regular.

That’s it until next week. Stay tuned.


SOTA News 31 Jan 2014

31 January 2014

Hi All,

OK, for starters, some of you may be getting some of this twice. I am having connectivity problems, and the last newsletter didn’t save properly. So if you get half of this twice, my apologies.

…As you can see, the flyer is here. And the website will be following shortly. In fact, it should be up by Sunday. And yes, PayPal will be up and running too. Our new webmistress, Wendy Guy, has made a few changes, and we hope you like them and find the registration process easier to navigate. Meanwhile, a big thank you to Tom Humiston for his hard work in years past.

Lots of work is going on behind the scenes too. The trade room, for example. While we probably won’t have our vendors and readers finalized until March, I can confirm that Billee Dommell will be back with her gems and minerals, Adam Gainsburg will be back with his books and his wonderful software program, Pam Gallagher and Mindy Whitt will be back with Cosmic Patterns and Sirius, and Lorraine Hughes has expressed interest in coming back as a reader. We are hoping Navika, Tim Brainard, and Pat Beers will be back as well, and there’s a possibility that Deirdre Norman will be doing double duty as both a speaker and a reader. We may or may not add one more reader as well due to popular demand and because it seems that many people like to get more than one reading. So, folks, if you’re interested, please let me know and we’ll get things rolling. Meanwhile, if any of you are vendors or know of vendors who might like to attend, please contact me. The reader situation is at the moment under control and in fact, we have had more inquiries than we have slots available. Mostly we’re looking for vendors…

If you’re wondering why I have been silent for the last couple of weeks, it’s because I was presenting at the FAA Conference in Hobart, Tasmania., a wonderful small conference (just a bit bigger than SOTA) with some excellent speakers, held in a beautiful venue on the harbour. Kelly Surtees was there too; Kelly is a native Australian and very well-known in her home country. I didn’t hear her, but I heard she was well-received and am sure that was the case. Kelly is always well-received; that’s why she’s doing SOTA’s keynote this year. Here’s the description:

Purpose and Passion: Mining Astrology’s Past as a Guide to Its Future

What has astrology offered in the past? What can astrology do now? Where do we go from here? An uplifting call to action about how the passion of each of us can help contribute to astrology’s ongoing purpose.

Knowing Kelly, this talk will be an inspiring, dynamic, and thought-provoking opening. It will be preceded by a brief introduction of speakers, readers, staff, and vendors and as usual there will be a cash bar and an array of nibblies for your enjoyment. If you’ve already registered, the opening and keynote are included in your Deluxe package. If you have the Full package that doesn’t include evening events, you can add this in for a mere $20. That’s not much for an evening of food for the mind and the body along with a chance to greet old acquaintances, make new ones, and perhaps even talk to some of the speakers.

So if you’re NOT already registered, why not go to over the next 2-3 days and register by PayPal. Or if you prefer, you can send a cheque, made payable to Full Circle Seminars to me at 35 Brock St., Suite #1405, Hamilton, ON L8L 4L7.

If you’re on this side of the border, you can pay by Interac as well but please note: Due to the fact that our dollar has dropped below the 95 cent mark, SOTA can no longer absorb the difference in the exchange rate. Prices listed are in US funds because our expenses are payable in US funds. So this year you’ll need to add 10% to the fees to cover your exchange rate. In other words, that $20 opening will be $22 Canadian. We regret the added expense, but we really had no choice. I am hoping that you will still find SOTA good value and well worth the money; we work hard to give you the best deal possible and keep our expenses down. And I definitely look forward to seeing all of you there.

As usual, if you have questions, please message me. Otherwise, I’ll catch you next week. Meanwhile, stay warm.