Category Archives: SOTA 2016

SOTA 22 July 2016

Hi All,

I am back from the hotel and returned to a hectic schedule. So let’s get right to the news.

First of all, the hotel is ready for us — and I am planning to be ready for you. I have ordered extra food for the opening and a lovely array of fruit and cookies (and the usual coffee and tea) for How To, What To. So all you have to do is turn up!

Part of that turning up involves reserving your hotel room. At the moment we have 22 rooms left in our room block. We MAY be able to get more when these are gone, but if we’re going to do that, we need to do it sooner rather than later. Which is to say please reserve your hotel room NOW calling the hotel at 1-800-323-3331 and telling them you’re with SOTA so you can get the special conference rate. Speakers, this means you too. The Millennium is the place to be if you want to take advantage of ALL our activities, the free shuttle, the free parking, and everything else. So please do this NOW while we can still get rooms.

How to, What to, Why to

Secondly, we now have an actual How To, What To Schedule, which has turned out to be all How To. It is below. Descriptions will be in another issue and also in the program, since we still have a couple of blurbs that need to be fine-tuned. In most cases, though, the descriptions speak for themselves. So hear we go:

7:00 – 7:30 pm


Sirius Demo
David Cochrane


How to Spot Important Timing Changes
Aaron Fried


How to Spot Your Totem Animal
Judy Conkel


7:45 – 8:15


Solar Fire Demo
Richard Smoot


How to Keep Your Astrology Business Fresh
Cassandra Butler


How to Use Transits to Work With Your Chakras
Bill Duvendack


8:30 – 9:00


How to Do a Group Spirit Message
Rev. Marilyn


How to Access Creativity Using Moon Cycles
Hilary Harley


How to Interpret Peregrine Planets
Tamara Small


If you have a Deluxe registration, the How To night is included in your conference package. If not, it’s only $20 until September 25 and $30 from September 26 onwards. And either way, you get to choose 3 of these great half-hour lectures and demos. And yes, we WILL sell tickets at the door, but we have no plans to sell individual tickets at this time. And these will NOT be recorded.

Sunday and Other Features

Also note that we are planning a Half-Asleep Prophet’s party for Sunday night for those of you planning on staying over for the Post-Conference workshops or “just because”. I am hoping to sort out details with Demetrius Bagley this week, but I think at the moment plans are for somewhere off-site if we can find somewhere appropriate that can accommodate both vegans and carnivores So stay tuned for further details on that one…

And don’t forget our closing and prize draw on Sunday. We have done this every year since the beginning and it’s a wonderful way to close the conference. People donate all sorts of wonderful stuff — wine, chocolates, jewelry, astro-kitsch, books, and more. I never know what we’ll have until Sunday morning. But all registered attendees get a ticket and everyone has a chance to go home with a nice souvenir of SOTA, donated by one of the speakers, the staff, or another attendee. And it’s all FREE… If YOU’d like to donate, just let me know and bring the prize along. The more, the merrier — and the happier the attendees are! That’s YOU, by the way…

Note too, that we still have space in the Trade Room for one or possibly two vendors. So if you have something amazing to sell, let me know. Our table fees are low and our attendees are always happy to see new things — especially hand-crafted things, T-shirts and the like. But let me know SOON so I can get the Trade Room organized.

Speaker: Julie Simmons

And since we’ve been talking about Sunday events, let’s talk about one of our Sunday speakers — specifically Julie Simmons. Julie is one of our regulars and is much loved. In fact, as years have gone by, the question has gone from “Who is Julie Simmons?” (because for a long-time teacher and consultant with an outstanding reputation, she is amazingly bereft of ego and disinclined to toot her own horn) to “Where is Julie Simmons?” because so many people want to be sure they get a seat. This year will probably be no exception. Have a look at her topic:

Realizing the Chart: Observation Vs Realization

Astrology can be bound by rules and regulations or it can be a lived reality – changing with each person who encounters it. In this hour we will explore these dimensions. Bring your chart: The best place to see what works, what doesn’t.

If you’re wanting to see the chart as a lived reality, there’s no better guide out there than Julie. If you do consulting, this lecture will be well worth hearing!


And on that note,  I’m off to forage in the freezer. Happy Full Moon fruition. Catch you next week.




SOTA 4 July 2016

Hi Everyone,

…Yes, it’s been a while, hasn’t it? My apologies. I have been traveling and tied up with clients and simply tied up with life. And I’m going to be on the road again in a week or so. More about that later. Meanwhile, let’s get caught up on the SOTAnews.

First of all, registration is up from last year, so we remain on target. A big THANK YOU to all of you who have supported us by registering and by spreading the word. We couldn’t do it without you.

Secondly, we currently have at least one and possibly two spaces available in the trade room. If you are a vendor — or if you know a vendor — this is a good opportunity to show off your wares in an enjoyable conference atmosphere. The trade room will open on Thursday, November 10, somewhere between noon and 1 pm. We already have a good selection of gems and minerals, software, organic soaps and creams, books, and other goodies. Our attendees have expressed interest in things like mugs, decorative astrologically-themed objects of all types, and T-shirts as well as things like spirit painting and possibly chair massage.

Our rates are very reasonable and are dependent on how many tables you need. Note that we already have enough readers but we’re open to pretty much anything else. If you’re interested, email me. Or if you have a friend who might be interested, have them email me. We are expecting a good crowd. And additionally, the trade room is free and open to the general public. So tell your friends — and let me know if you’d like to be a part of it. Note that vendors DO get free admission to our opening ceremony featuring Mediums and Messages. They do not get free admission to lectures, though.

Third, we have one lecture slot open in How To, What To, and I would like to finalize that ASAP. So what do you do to snag that slot for yourself? Simple! You email me and express an interest. I will then ask you to send a 25-word lecture description with a title that has How To, What To, etc. in the title. Also send me a bio of no more than 25 words.

The topic should be suitable for a half-hour slot, say 25 minutes plus 5 minutes for questions. It doesn’t have to be astrology, though an astrological tie-in would be nice. Note that to claim your slot, you must be registered for the conference with either a Deluxe or Full registration. Then, in exchange for your participation, you will receive a $25 honorarium for your efforts. So it’s like getting a small discount for your conference package. Again, email me if you’re interested. Preferably soon…

Fourth, if you haven’t reserved your hotel room already, do it NOW please. Simply call the hotel at 1-800-323-3331 and tell them you’re with SOTA. We ran out of rooms last year, so a word to the wise is sufficient. Because the Millennium really IS the place to be if you want to make the most of the conference.

Post-Conference Workshops

OK, as you know, we have not only Pre-Conference workshops slated for this year, we have Post-Conference workshops as well featuring April Elliot Kent and Joyce Levine.

April Elliot Kent

I first heard April at the last UAC. She is bright, she is funny, and she has a wealth of good material. I am delighted she will be at SOTA this year. Here’s her topic:

The Progressed Lunar Phase and Transiting Saturn cycles

Transiting Saturn’s return every 29.5 prompts a critical evaluation of your success and status in the world. Concurrently, the progressed Sun and Moon duplicate their natal phase relationship, provokes a review of your emotional well-being. Understanding these lengthy, concurrent cycles can be helpful in combining worldly success and emotional satisfaction.

Joyce Levine

Some of you may remember Joyce Levine from previous SOTAs. She is a solid professional who is always well-prepared and can consistently be counted on to provide detailed and useful information. Here’s her topic:

What’s Likely to Happen?

Working with Transits. Transits of Saturn, Uranus, Neptune, and Pluto to the birth chart represent major turning points in a person’s life.   This talk spells out the meanings of these transits in terms of event orientation and psychological and spiritual understanding.  It goes on to show how the same cycles affect people differently depending upon the make up of their birth chart.  Lastly, it shows how to interpret differing cycles occurring at the same time in a person’s life.  The participants will come away with a better understanding of how to make predictions, whether those predictions are event oriented or psychological.

And by the way, if this isn’t enough for you, Joyce may also cover secondary progressions and/or solar arcs as time permits. As I said before, Joyce is nothing if not thorough.


If you put these two workshops together, you will wind up with a very thorough overview of predictive techniques providing information that should serve you well in both your personal work and your client work.

Both Joyce and April will also be lecturing in the main portion of the conference.

Joyce actually has two one-hour lectures — Family Dynamics—How and Why We Get Along (Friday) and Pluto—Death or Transformation (Saturday)

April has a two-hour lecture on Eclipse Cycles and the Birth Chart (also on Saturday). So do try to make it to at least one of their lectures or workshops. You definitely won’t be sorry!

For those of you who will be sticking around until Monday, note that we are planning a little gathering Sunday night. Time and place (or places) are still TBD, but as soon as we know, you’ll hear about it. And if you have ideas, please let Demetrius and I know.

And on that note, I will tell you that there probably won’t be any SOTAnews next week again. I am off to the hotel to check on recording, make sure we do not run out of food at the opening (yes, I will be ordering extra), and order a stash of cookies, coffee, tea, and fruit for How To, What To. And note, that included in that stash of cookies will be vegan cookies. More on that on my return.

Until then, enjoy your summer!




SOTA 19 June 2016

Happy Summer To All,

Time to enjoy this glorious weather!

Also time to remind you that the current registration rates for SOTA will expire on June 25 at 10 pm Eastern. Also time to remind you that vendor table fees are due June 25. And for you vendors, please note that any space I am holding for you will be released on that date. It may still be possible to get that space back after that date, but there are no guarantees.Please contact me for further details.

OK, we continue to do well as far as registration goes. And we have a new reg form that does all the calculating and whatever for you. Makes it MUCH easier for all of us. And we DO take checks, though at this late date I fear they will not make it here by June 25. Email is a transfer on this side of the border, but note that since all fees are in US funds, you would need to add a surcharge to your email transfer. At the moment, that’s around 25%, though as of Friday the rate appeared to be dropping.

I’ve had queries on a couple of things:

First of all, I have had queries on the luncheons. We will again be using the choose your own menu option for these, but please note that in order to accommodate the kitchen, these need to be restricted to light lunches — salads, sandwiches, etc. You get your lunch as well as the lecture for a mere $30. If you were to get a recording of just the lecture, that would be $10-$15 all on its own — and regrettably none of the luncheons will be recorded.

So if you want to attend you need to be there — and if you luncheon lectures are spreading the word, please make sure your friends know this. At the moment, we have plenty of room in all 3 of the lectures, but since these are held in a small room, space is limited and it will be first-come, first-served. That said, if space is available, we will sell tickets up until 10 am the morning of the lecture — but again, once they are gone, they are gone. So if you really, really, really want to hear one of these very interesting topics, sooner is better than later if you want to guarantee yourself a space.

I had hoped to have the How To, What To roster ready today, but a couple of those who said they were interested have not gotten back to me with topics. That means we may be looking for a couple of other presenters.

Note that these slots do not give you a free conference admission; you will need to be registered for SOTA in order to claim one. You will then get an honorarium at the conference for presenting. So this is like getting a small discount on your conference fee — plus a fair bit of exposure for your skills. If this interests you, email me and I’ll fill you in on details, Note that I will not know how many slots will be available until after June 25, but if I know who is interested I will get back to you promptly.

And while we’re on the subject of How To, What To, I’ve also had several queries on the software demos. One is what will be covered. My understanding is the presenters will cover what you would like to see covered, which at this point seems to be primarily Vedic and Traditional techniques and systems plus a basic overview of what each program contains. These are not crash courses in harmonics or firdaria or phase cycles or anything else; they are designed to show you what the programs can do. And should you want more specific information on any of these things, both Richard Smoot and Fei Cochrane will be in the trade room for the duration and happy to oblige.

I’ve also been asked about discounts for the various software programs. Astrolabe will be offering a 20% discount on the purchase of any new program, and a 10% discount on any upgrade. I am expecting to hear from Cosmic Patterns some time this week and should have information for you in the next SOTAnews. Do note that these are on-site discounts and that cost of all programs are in US funds.

Now then, having mentioned Traditional astrology above, it might be time to have a look at one of our presenters and his topic. Ryhan Butler was a hit last year so he is back again. I think his topic will interest a lot of you. Here it is:

Speaker: Ryhan Butler

Of Seeds and Stars

In classical medicine, parts of the body, diseases, and medicinal herbs are all said to have planetary rulerships.  This creates an interconnected chain of astrological correspondence that is based on the philosophy of cosmic sympathy.  In this talk we’ll identify and discuss herbs belonging to each planet using the works of Culpeper, Galen, and modern herbalism as a guide.  We’ll learn how to apply these principles to our own lives to develop a great addition to any health regimen.

This one should be of value and interest to many of you, even if you don’t consider yourself a classical or traditional astrologer. Ryhan is a great presenter with just the right mix of humor and solid information.

Ok, that’s it for now. Will see you next week. Have a good one! And remember your sunscreen!



SOTA 14 June 2016

Hi All,

Yes, it’s been a while… I have been busy with life and lectures. I spent a wonderful weekend in Ohio at IAA-Cleveland and Ena Stanley doing workshops at their school. This was followed by a lecture for LCAA. It was wonderful to see so many familiar faces, to reconnect with some I had lost touch with, and to meet a few kindred spirits.

I was no sooner back than it was time to attend the Lynn Bell workshop in Toronto sponsored by Astrology Toronto. I only made it to the Sunday Solar Returns portion of the workshop but it was well worth attending and I heard very positive things about the days I missed.

Mediums and Messages

Meanwhile, I haven’t been idle. Lots has been happening on the SOTA front. What you may ask? Well, for starters, we have finalized our Mediums for the Mediums and Messages portion of the Opening on November 10. They will be: Rev. Kathy Barnard, Patricia Beers,Rev. Ellen Bourn, Tim Brainard, and Patty Mac. All have been at SOTA before for Sweet Messages and other openings. They were asked back because they got positive feedback then. I’m sure they’ll get more this year. And 15 of you will get messages at the opening.

If you don’t get one, most of the mediums will also be available for at least some of the weekend, and so you can still book an appointment. Patricia and Tim will be in the trade room for the duration. Bill Duvendack will be joining them. Bill is from St. Louis and is both an astrologer and a Tarot expert. I have heard excellent things about his readings, so do check him out.

How To, What To, When To…

Bill will also be taking part in the How To, What To, When To mini lectures on Friday night. And yes, our roster is finalized, though I am still waiting for some topics and titles. There will be two software how-to demos — one on Sirius presented by none other than David Cochrane, and one on Solar Fire by Richard Smoot.

I have both of these programs, use both, and am quite certain that even after several years of almost daily use there are still features that I have never used. If you’re the same — or if you’re shopping for software — these could be must-attends for you.

But if you’re not really looking for software tips, don’t worry — there’ll be other lectures that could be well worth your while. I’m hoping to have the full schedule ready for the next SOTAnews, but meanwhile I can tell you that in addition to David, Richard, and Bill, there will be presentations by Cassandra Butler,Judy Conkel, Aaron Fried, Reagan Jane, Marilyn, and Arun Tuwari.

Most of these people will be familiar names or at least faces with the exception of Bill. Aaron is a new presenter and past attendee from the Buffalo area (well, at least for now). And Aaron will also be doing a luncheon lecture in the main portion of the conference, as will Cassandra and Marilyn.

Arun Tuwari is a new presenter from the Toronto area where he teaches Jyotish. He has considerable knowledge and experience, so I am hoping you will enjoy him. And by the way, he is a good teacher, so don’t be afraid of your lack of Vedic knowledge.

Trade Room

At the moment, all of our trade room space is reserved and we are hoping to have all of it confirmed by June 26. If we don’t, space we’ll be released and we’ll put out another call for vendors. That said, I can confirm that Richard Smoot will be representing Astrolabe (and you may run into Victoria Smoot there as well when she’s not in lectures).

You’ll also find Fei Cochrane of Cosmic Patterns there. David Cochrane may join her at times, though we’re keeping him pretty busy. In addition to the How To, What To, When To software demo,  he has two lectures — The Discovery of Why Astrology Works: Fractal Sacred Geometry on Saturday from 10:15 to 12:15 and Marriage and the Navamsa Chart from 10:15 to 12:15.

I can also confirm that Billee Dommell and David Jordan will be back with their wide array of jewelry and minerals, Lisanne Moore of Silver Raven Soaps will be back, and Sue Morris of Sue’s Salves will also be there. Both Lisanne and Sue have high quality botanical products that are worth checking out and smell nice without overpowering your sinuses. And of course Al and Carol Mason Godzick of A-C Tapes will be there too.

In addition, we are hoping to have Joy Kay White and Mary Lou Vaughan back with those wonderful wooden boxes and carvings that you like so much. Helene Arts is tentatively booked as our bookseller again. And we are expecting to have a couple of new vendors as well.

Therese Taylor of Keyhole Gallery in Ohio makes intention dolls. These are absolutely magical and you’ll be able to either buy a ready-made one and fill it with your intentions or make your own to ensure it is an absolutely perfect fit for you. Fun? Yes! And gorgeous as well.

Plus Dana Hatchett of Buffalo will be there. Dana does spirit paintings, which is something you have asked for. I have seen his work and I think you’ll like it…

Closing Ceremony

For those of you who are attending for the first time, I’d like to mention one of the things that we thinks helps to make SOTA special — specifically, our closing ceremony and prize giveaway. Note that this is NOT a silent auction (though once in a while we have an additional raffle at the closing).

What this is, plain and simple, is an energy exchange. Many speakers, staff, and attendees donate prizes that can range from books to jewelry to candles, to pashminas and just about every kind of astro-themed thing you can imagine. Some are hand-made. Some are regifted. Some are new or gently used books. Some come from vendors. Some take the form of readings from speakers, mediums, or others.

We never know what will appear, but each year these wonderful things appear magically. And any attendee who is present for the closing is eligible to take home a prize. It’s a nice way to connect and a nice way to end on a high note. So plan to attend, and if you’d like to donate something, let me know. Or just bring it!

Half-Asleep Prophet’s Party

The closing this year will be followed by The Half-Asleep Prophet’s Party for those of you who are staying over until Monday. And what will happen there? Well, um, something. We are still in the planning stages for this one so all I can tell you for sure is that it will NOT be in the hospitality room. It could be a trip to a local restaurant. It could be a series of roving room parties (which would have to end at 10:00 I fear because of noise prohibitions in the hotel). But party we will, so stay tuned for further details on this one. Oh, and if you have suggestions, please let Demetrius and I know

Speaker: Donna Van Toen

Now then, since someone asked me what I was lecturing on this year, I’ll give you that info now before I misplace it in my files.

On Friday, November 11, from 4:15 to 5:15, my topic will be:

What Are We Doing Anyway?

What are we doing when we do a consultation? Who are we talking to? Do we really know? Astrology can be a wonderful growth tool, but as with any other tool it can be used in ways that are less than productive and do not bring about the desired results. Let’s talk about those desired results and the possible pitfalls that might stand in the way of getting them.

This is a topic near and dear to my heart. I am hoping there will be some food for thought.

And then on Saturday November 12 from 2-4  my topic will be:

Moon-Mars Phase Cycles and the Path to Self-Reliance

Every single planetary pair in your chart is in a phase. And each of these phases denotes a path to something, both by phase and by the aspect within the phase. In this lecture, we’ll discuss the path from dependence to self-reliance, as denoted by the Moon-Mars phase, house positions, and any aspects between them. Bring your chart!

I hope one or the other of these will appeal and I hope to see some of you there!

Fees go up June 25th at 10 PM EDT

And speaking of being there, a reminder that the current registration rates for Deluxe, Full, Pre-, Post-, and single-day sessions will ALL expire at 10 pm Eastern on June 25. You’ll wake up on June 26 to increased rates. That’s not the kind of coffee you want to wake up and smell.

So why not register now if you haven’t already done so. A flyer may be downloaded. Just follow it to our website or pop a cheque in the mail. Then you’re done with it!


Meanwhile, enjoy the wonderful weather. I’ll see you next week!




SOTA 9 May 2016

Hi All,

Mercury and Mars are both retrograde, the weather is gorgeous and news is slow, though things are moving. I think we’ve FINALLY sorted out the mediums for the opening and will be contacting them to confirm this just as soon as possible. And I can confirm that Tim Brainard will be one of them. The trade room is also moving. We’re in negotiations with a bookseller and hope to confirm a third reader very shortly. Meanwhile, you will find both Tim Brainard and Pat Beers back again for your entertainment and enlightenment. We have also gotten a couple of very interesting queries from vendors and I am hoping they will join us. We’re still trying to finalize space requirements on that front, so you vendors will also be hearing from me very shortly.

…And since I have all these people to contact very shortly, PLUS a trip to Ohio coming up, SOTAnews will again be taking a 2 week hiatus beginning next week. The Ohio trip, by the way, involves a stop at IAA-Cleveland, where I will be talking about the Midheaven on Friday, May 20th and about trigger aspects all day on May 21. May 23 will take me to the LCAA where I will be talking about abundance and lack of aspects with a little bit of info about approaching, departing, applying, and separating aspects as time permits. And yes, there will be handouts at all of these. I am a Luddite and I don’t DO Powerpoint if I can help it. For more information on the IAA-Cleveland event, contact Ena Stanley. For more info on the LCAA event, contact Carolyn Clementson. If you need email addresses , let me know. I’m  very much hoping to see some of you there. And yes, I am available for a limited number of consultations.

OK, informercial over. Let’s look at what one of our SOTA speakers has to offer. As I’ve mentioned before, I am absolutely delighted to have David Cochrane joining us this year because I think he is one of the best and brightest minds out there when it comes to research and new insights. His material is original, applicable, and never dry. And this year he will be doing not one but two two-hour lectures. Here are his topics:

The Discovery of Why Astrology Works: Fractal Sacred Geometry

Astrologers have very recently discovered that the tropical zodiac is a perfect representation of prime number and Fibonacci number sequences! This is now understood in detail. Science, mysticism, astrology, and psychic ability are not antithetical to each other but rather are different lenses into the same awesome and mysterious reality.


Marriage and the Navamsa Chart

Vedic astrologers regard the navamsa chart as extremely important. It is not possible to give an astrological reading without it. It is often called a chart of dharma, marriage, and happiness. We will learn what the navamsa chart is and we will see examples of its power in relationships.

Here is David’s bio, just in case you want to know more:

David is the author of two astrology books, instructor at the Avalon School of Astrology, founder of Cosmic Patterns Software, past President of ISAR, and has created over 200 free tutorial videos available at He has collaborated with dozens of astrologers on astrological software products and research projects.

As usual, Sirius will be one of our conference vendors. Not only that, but David and/or Fei will be presenting a half hour demo on Friday night as part of our How To, What To program. So if you need more info on Sirius and its many, many features, SOTA 2016 is definitely the place to get it!


One last thing; We’ve had a few questions about the trade room, the How To, What To program, and registering for single sessions or half days. First things first. The trade room is ALWAYS open to the general public. So tell your friends that they are definitely invited to come in and browse.

Secondly, you can definitely register for the How To, What To sessions on Friday night without registering for the rest of the conference. We will be taking registrations at the door right up until the start of the sessions. However, it probably will not be possible to sign up for just one half-hour presentation. We generally don’t offer single-session tickets for anything except Pre and Post conference sessions, so if you were planning on just turning up and dropping in for one lecture, I advise you to check before heading out. We may or may not be able to accommodate you, and we are unlikely to be able to tell you whether or not we are able to until late September earliest. If we can, it will be registration at the door only.

As for half day registrations, we have offered those in the past and while no decision has been made for this year, there’s a good chance we will do so again. But again these would be registrations at the door only. As with the single-session registrations, we’ll make a decision on these in September and will let you know via the newsletter.


Have a good couple of weeks — and don’t forget to share SOTA with your friends.