Category Archives: SOTA 2015

Newsletters for SOTA 2015

SOTA 1 May 2015

Hi All,

It appears that spring has finally arrived — and not one minute too soon in my book!

Not much news in SOTAland this time, but I DID want to mention the banquet. Given the diversity of this crowd in terms of eating preferences — carnivores, vegetarians, vegans, gluten-frees, and just plain fussy eaters, the banquet is always something of a challenge. I am told that you can’t please everybody — but we’re trying. That’s why banquets are more expensive this year. And that’s why, in part, the cost of SOTA 2015 is higher than the cost of SOTA 2014.

We are working very hard to offer you a bigger, better, buffet with more variety and lots of good things to eat. While my dining at the hotel has been minimal so far (but I’ll vouch for the fish and chips, the tuna pita, and the steak) I am told by locals that the Millennium is a popular spot for weddings and banquets — in part because the food is good. That bodes well. And portions are generous, which doesn’t hurt.

I am hoping to have the banquet menu set some time in July and as soon as it is, you will hear about it. Suffice to say that there will be offerings for both carnivores and vegetarians — and vegans too, once Demetrius gets done with the menu — as well as a cash bar and the usual entertainment from Franco and friends. The friends vary from year to year, but I keep hearing a rumor that one person who will play a prominent role in the merriment will be Samuel Reynolds. I’m sure there will be others as well.

And we will of course have our usual fabulous fifty/fifty draw. Generally the winner of the draw comes away with $90-$100; some years it’s more. So that in itself is a good reason to go to the banquet. You can only win if you’re there, and you can only be there if you’re attending the banquet. Sometimes there are other draws as well; this year that remains to be seen. The goal, however, is to offer good food, good entertainment, and good people to converse and laugh with. So please consider joining us!

We are hoping that the banquet will be followed by some good old-fashioned AFAN hospitality too, So there’s a definite option to make it a late night if you’re so inclined.

Also in terms of the hotel, I had a question about 4 people who wanted to share a room. You can do this, but if you’re a woman, I don’t advise it. Counter space in the bathroom is limited and the closet has space for about a dozen hangers. If you don’t wear make-up and live in jeans, you can do it; if not, it’s a stretch. Better to get connecting rooms or adjoining rooms. Yes, it will be more expensive, but the extra space will be worth it. Four to a bathroom is never fun…


…OK, let’s look at speakers again. As you know, we try very hard to offer a mix of new-to-SOTA speakers and returning speakers. The returning speakers are invariably asked back because you liked them and requested their return. One such speaker is Kelly Surtees. Kelly is originally from Australia and still divides her time between Australia and Canada. And as far as I’m concerned, we’re lucky to have her! She is a superb teacher with a wealth of knowledge. This year, her topic is Planets: Passions and Problems. Have a look:

Planets: Passions + Problems

Your passions and problems can be revealed by your strong and weak planets. Discover how to work out which planets are working for you and which planets may cause problems. We’ll review traditional approaches to determine favourable and difficult planets, as well as discuss strategies for managing them.

One thing I like about this lecture is that it’s not just about “strong” and “weak” and “good” and “bad”. There are some management strategies here too. And that’s good — because there’s nothing worse than discovering you have a problem planet (if you don’t know that already) and then being left hanging without a clue what to do with it. Kelly is not a “So sorry for your luck” presenter. She’s a teacher. And while she’s not afraid to mention problematical potentials, she’s upbeat and option oriented. So quit sulking about your Saturn and see what Kelly has to say about it in this lecture.

OK, I’m rapidly running out of time and there’s a steak with my name on it waiting for me. More next time. Meanwhile, please share this with your friends — and don’t forget to register if you haven’t already done so.



SOTA 20 April 2015

Hi All,


I have returned from GLAC, where a good time was had by all. This was the best GLAC yet, in my opinion — good speakers, a good trade room, and very definitely good socializing. A number of SOTA-ites were there, including Demetrius Bagley, Carol Godzick, Jan Scheffer, Melody-Ann Summers, and of course Pam Wenzel, who is GLAC’s co-convener. Others too — the list would be long, trust me.

Phil Meade won the SOTA registration. Phil is a Michigan-based speaker who did an excellent lecture on fixed stars. So this time he’s a guest, but if there’s a next time we just may rope him in as a speaker — though mind you we try to keep speaker duplication to a minimum. If you’d like to peruse the list of lectures and perhaps order some recordings, you can Google Great Lakes Astrology Conference (GLAC) and order them directly from the website. Or contact for further information.

And now back to SOTA…

SOTA Staff

First of all, I’d like to welcome Martha Weber to our staff. Martha will be assistant registrar. She and Myra will make sure you’re badged, programmed, and sent in the right direction for whatever you’re headed for. This means we have a full contingent of staff.

AFAN Scholarships

For those of you who were hoping to cut staff by taking a staff position, there are other ways to cut costs, at least if you’re a member of AFAN. AFAN — yes, the same organization that does our wonderful hospitality — is offering a number of scholarships. Check out their website and apply today. They WILL run out, and there IS a deadline. And if you’re not a member of AFAN, why not join? They do this every year, in addition to providing hospitality and other networking opportunities. The dues are a very small price to pay for the benefits of membership you’ll receive.

Trade Room

On the Trade Room front, this is our second call for vendors. A number of our vendors from last year will be back, including A-C Tapes, Billee Dommell and David Jordan and their wonderful selection of jewelry and minerals, Joy White and Mary Lou Vaughan and their incredible carvings, and Nora Sturtevant Bouvier with her wonderful prints. And we’re expecting Fei Cochrane to be back with Sirius and more and Helene Arts to be back with an array of books.

We still have room for two or three other vendors, and we’ve had several inquiries. What you need to know is that we really want to finalize the trade room by the end of June, so if you’re still sitting on the fence or still need to pay your vendor’s fee, please contact me as soon as possible.

Also note that some of you may have heard that we were contemplating moving the trade room to the main hotel lobby for Sunday. This plan has been scrapped. It just isn’t feasible to get everything moved and set up for 8:30 am Sunday morning and we would rather stay put so you can put your energy into sales rather than set-up. My thanks to those of you who gave me input on this. Sometimes if you don’t do a job you just don’t know what’s entailed. This was one of those cases. It seemed like a good idea at the time, but it simply wasn’t.

In terms of readers, we MAY have a full contingent, but if you’re interested, contact me for details. At the moment I am waiting for people to confirm by sending in their cheques.


Enough, you say. What about the program?  Well, one of our speakers this year is Ronnie Gale Dreyer. Ronnie was on the SOTA roster some years ago, but she hasn’t been back for quite a while. And since some of you expressed an interest in Vedic astrology and almost all of you expressed an interest in forecasting techniques, we thought she might be a good fit. Here’s her topic:

Forecasting  Techniques that Really Work : Indian Planetary Periods (Dashas)

Indian astrologers are known for their ability to pinpoint events by dividing your life into planetary periods called Dashas. In this talk Ronnie will show you how to apply them to your own system of astrology, as well as make your own predictions concerning births, marriages, career, health, money, and spirituality.

And in case you’re not familiar with Ronnie’s work, here’s her bio:

Ronnie Gale Dreyer is an internationally known astrological consultant, lecturer, and teacher based in New York City, and has spoken for conferences and astrology groups around the world. She is the author of several books, including Vedic Astrology, Venus, and Healing Signs. Ronnie received her MA from Columbia University in South Asian Languages and Cultures.

Although Ronnie is perhaps best known as a Vedic astrologer, she has extensive experience in Western astrology as well. So don’t be afraid to give this lecture a try. It’s not just for Vedics.


Last but not least, we have a couple of pages on Facebook — SOTA Astrology Conference and SOTA 2015 Astrology Conference (event). Please check them out and like them. Also note that the latter page is a good resource for those of you wanting to find roommates, find rides or riders, or find information on nearby attractions.

OK, that’s it for this week except for a request to please share SOTAnews with your friends. Our advertising budget is miniscule. If YOU spread the word, that’s more money we can spend on the program. It really helps! Thanks in advance!




SOTA 5 April 2015

Hi All,

Happy spring and merry eclipse! May both be good to you…

I am most definitely turning into the late Donna Van Toen. And I’m at the moment in the middle of a time crunch. So let’s get on with the news, since once again there’s a lot of it…

First of all, a reminder to book your hotel room if you haven’t already done so. The hotel phone number is on the flyer and yes, you need to tell them you’re with SOTA in order to get the discount.

Secondly, I have had a good candidate volunteer from the registrar assistant staff slot. So that slot is gone. I still need to contact our staff from last year and make sure they are available, but at the moment it looks like we have no staff positions to offer you. If  that changes, you can be sure that I’ll let you know.

Third,  for those of you who have asked if we will be offering a discount to GLAC attendees, I’m happy to report that the answer is yes! If you are attending GLAC and are not yet registered for SOTA, you can take $30 off either our Full Package or our Deluxe Package. The kicker is that you must pay at the conference. A post-dated cheque is fine, and you can post-date the cheque to June 20th. So have a look at our flyer and your schedule, and if you can make it, see me at the conference. The discount will not be honored after that date.

Fourth,  a lot of you on this side of the border have complained about the exchange rate. Frankly, I’ve complained too. So we’re going to offer a bit of a price break. Specifically, between April 5th and 15th, you will be able to sign up for the Full Conference Package at par. That’s $250 CDN. But there ARE some restrictions. First of all, the at-par rate applies to the Full Conference package ONLY. Single days, Pre-Conference, banquet, lunches, and the Deluxe Package are still subject to the exchange rate. Secondly, this rate applies for email transfer (Interac) and cheques ONLY. No PayPal. Sorry. Their rates on top of this discount are more than I can afford. Third, all email transfers and cheques must be received by April  15. My address is on the flyer, and I would advise allowing 3-4 days from Ontario and 5-7 from elsewhere for cheques. I wish we could do more, but since we pay in US funds, this is the best I can do. I hope it’s a help.

And what are you getting for your money? Here’s a sampling:

Last year we had a couple of lectures on midpoints but most of you who attended came away wanting more. Alex Trenoweth is happy to oblige on that front this year. Alex was one of our Open Forum people last year and you loved her. She’s also a teacher by profession so she knows how to present information clearly as well as how to make it interesting. Here’s her topic:

Midpoint Madness

This informative and practical workshop will demonstrate the usefulness of midpoints. By taking the time to delineate midpoints, astrologers can cast light in the shadowy parts of a chart to enhance and reinforce often hidden wisdom and guidance. Please do bring your own charts to work on.

Midpoints can give you a lot of important information. And they don’t need to make you crazy. Alex will show you the ropes and maybe interpret a few midpoints in the process as well. So don’t let those midpoints make you mad. Find out what they mean!


You already know that Jacqueline Janes will be our keynote speaker at the Opening and will be talking about State of the Art Evolving (no, not just the conference but rather evolving in general). And you may also know that we will not only have nibblies and a cash bar at the opening but also hospitality after the opening courtesy of AFAN. What you may not know is that Jacqueline will also be presenting a two-hour presentation on Saturday. Topic: Archetypes of Otherness. Here’s the description:

Archetypes of Otherness

Natal charts hold a wealth of information about the shape and form of  the many relationships in our life.  We will not just focus on the intimate other, a favorite,  but the sibling other, the working other and the peer other.  Mom and Dad, too, have qualities of archetype otherness.

Everybody has “others”. Come and see what insight Jacqueline can give you into yours…


And last but not least, as you know, Patricia Bell had to cancel this year due to a schedule conflict. She has been replaced on Saturday by Patricia Price. While I know we will all miss Patricia Bell, Patricia Price is someone I have had on my list of potential speakers for quite some time. She has lectured all over the world, has a wealth of knowledge in many areas, and on top of all else has a good sense of humor. Here’s her topic:

Toning to the Planetary Vibrations: The Teachings of Pythagoras

Join us to explore how Pythagoras, teacher in the ancient world of the Mediterranean, used these musical tones to create harmony.  We will be toning sound vibrations for healing and well-being for your personal planets and for today’s harmony according to the “stars”. Join us for fun and transformation.

As you can see, this is not the same old stuff.  And if Patricia says it will be fun and potentially transformative, trust me — it will be!


…And of course there’s more, but I’ve run out of time again. So that “more” is going to have to wait for a couple of weeks, since I am headed to GLAC on Wednesday. On my return I hope to have more good news about lunches, the trade room, and of course lectures. Meanwhile, have a good spring, regardless of what the weatherman says…



SOTA 23 March 2015

Hi All,

Here I am, late again. And there’s a lot of news, so let’s go!

First of all, I’m happy to say we met our early bird registration target.If you’re not registered yet, you missed the early bird deadline,and I’m sorry for your luck. You can still register, of course, but the rate has gone up. The new fee is good until June 20, but if you want to beat the rush, you can register NOW where you’ll find the PayPal form and all the other goodies our webmistress Wendy Guy has ready for you.

You can also pay by cheque or email transfer if you’re on this side of the border, but remember our fees are in US dollars and you’ll need to add in that exchange rate. And yes, I know — that exchange rate is a killer. I’ve heard from several of you who have not registered for that reason and are waiting to see if the rates go down — which I think they will ultimately do, but by the time they go down, the reg fee may have risen yet again. We are trying to figure out a way to give you a bit of a price break that won’t break your budget or ours, but bear in mind that I have to pay in US funds. That kind of limits what we can do…

Even if you’re not registering now, you DO need to take a look at the new flyer. Why? Because Patricia Bell has cancelled and we have two brand-new replacement speakers replacing her. On Saturday, Patricia Price will be taking over Patricia Bell’s 9 am slot. Her topic? Toning of the Planetary Vibrations: The Teachings of Pythagoras. Patricia is from Lily Dale, has lectured world-wide, and has a wealth of knowledge.

On Sunday, Marilyn will be replacing Patricia Bell, again in a 9 am slot. Her topic is Astrology and the Royal Path of Tarot. Marilyn was one of our Open Forum speakers last year, so it’s nice that we were able to offer her something on the main roster this year. That brings our count to 7 from Open Forum — and there are still 5 waiting in the wings as back-up. We’ll talk more about these speakers and their topics later on, so stay tuned…

We’re still looking for vendors, so if you are a vendor or if you know of vendors who might be a good fit for SOTA, please send them my way. Our fees are reasonable and people are anxious to have a variety of products available. We are also looking for at least one reader for the trade room. If that’s you, let me know and I’ll fill you in. Again, the fee is reasonable.

For those of you who have asked if we’ll be doing Sweet Messages again, the answer is yes. It will be on Friday night, with mediums TBA. For the most part it will be the same format as last year, with one exception: Specifically, it was noted last year that for some people, one reading was not enough. This year, we are going to insist that it is one reading per attendee. We want to be fair to the mediums who are donating their time as well as to those waiting for readings. If you want a second reading, most of the mediums will be available for private sessions. If, however, you try to sneak in a second reading, we will regrettably have to ask you to go to registration and pay again. I am hoping a word to the wise will be sufficient.

And for those of you who have been asking about a GLAC special, the answer is yes, there will be one. There may even be a couple of options. Expect more news on that next week, as I need to discuss this with Pam and Richard first.

Meanwhile, someone asked me why we don’t have more speakers and particularly more “big names”. Well, first of all, speakers cost money. They also need an audience. We would be happy to add more speakers if we had more attendees. There’s no point in adding more speakers and having only 4 or 5 people in a lecture. That’s disappointing for them and us. As for the “big names”, well, here’s the deal. We are a regional conference.

Our mandate has always been to bring in the best regional speakers we can find, both from the Buffalo/Niagara/GTA area and further afield. I am quite passionate about this. These are the people who are going to bring astrology to the next level. Many of them are working with fresh, new ideas. Without regional conferences, they would never be heard outside their own local area. And that would be a shame.

As for the “big names”, we try to bring in speakers who have lectured at major conferences such as UAC, and most years we have about a dozen of them. Which ones we have depends on who is available. It also depends on attendee interests. Over the years, we have had quite a number of big names, and we undoubtedly have more such names next year. But our aim has always been for a mix of people — not for a showcase for the people who are already well known.


Michael Barwick is a really good example of a top-notch regional speaker. He has been a familiar face and voice at Astrology Toronto lectures for many years, generally garnering very positive feedback. As a result of this he wound up on the SOTA roster. And as a result of that, he found his way to the MAC roster. And this year he’s back on the SOTA roster again, where we’re delighted to have him. Here’s his topic:

Wish Upon Your Fixed Stars!

Traditional astrology has pretty black-and-white meanings for the fixed stars. However, relatively recently, new voices have been talking about fresh approaches to connecting them to the horoscope and interpreting them. Come hear Michael discuss the tradition and new approaches while showcasing the fixed stars as aspirational symbols, each one with gifts, an agenda and a dark side. This presentation explores how knowledge of significant fixed star interactions with the horoscope can provide actionable insight  for empowerment and self-actualization. Iconic horoscopes will be presented as examples.

If you dismissed Fixed Stars years ago as “too negative” this may just the lecture you need to hear to jump-start you’re thinking.


Another speaker we’re delighted to have back is Maria Mateus. I first heard Maria at UAC and was very impressed. And judging from your response to her at  SOTA last year, you were too. Here’s her topic:

Profections: Reviving an ancient technique for astrological forecasting

Profections are among the oldest timing techniques in astrology. Originally, they were used in combination with the Solar Return to time annual, monthly, daily, and even hourly events. They continued to be used in Medieval and Renaissance Europe. In this talk I’ll be outlining my understanding of this forecasting technique and examining how it figures within  the larger framework of timing methods.

Profections are fascinating and worth knowing about. And Maria is a very clear presenter. This one is worth hearing, so why not make a note of it now?


I am off to the Millennium on Wednesday to sort out a few things pertaining to luncheons and the trade room. More on that next time. Meanwhile, you can book YOUR room at the Millennium by calling 1-800-323-3331 and telling them you’re with SOTA. And remember, both the airport shuttle and parking are free this year.
More next time,



SOTA 13 March 2015

Hi All,

Someone has pushed the button on my roller-coaster and I have been swamped. Client work, a birthday, and all sorts of interesting but time-consuming distractions. To make up for it, here’s a double issue of SOTAnews. So make yourself a cup of tea and get comfy. We’ve got a lot of news and a lot of announcements…

First of all, as you know, the early bird registration rate will EXPIRE on March 20th at 10 pm Eastern. And March 20th is also the last day that cheques or email transfers will be accepted at the early bird rate. Note that the last mail registration I got from the US (from the Boston area) took in excess of  a week to get here. Also note that we have no mail delivery here on Saturday. And act accordingly. A word to the wise should be sufficient.  If it isn’t, your registration will be held for additional funds.

For those of you in Canada who have been paying by cheque or email transfer, the 20th marks another unfortunate deadline. As you know, our exchange rate absolutely sucks at the moment. I have been offering a 20% exchange rate to those paying by cheque or email transfer, but that exchange rate keeps getting higher and higher. So regretfully, as of March 21st, the exchange rate for those of you paying in Canadian funds will be 25%, I would love to be able to waive it, but I will be paying in US dollars and this is not a charity. My apologies — and please, blame Harper.  We will keep a close eye on the exchange rate and should things improve, we will act accordingly. The 25% is the best we can do at the moment — and is still less than what the banks are charging.

Secondly, this is our first call for vendors and readers. A number of vendors from last year have said they will be back, and one has already paid. However, we would love to get a couple of additional vendors, and we would also like to hear from anyone interested in being a reader in the trade room. Our fees are reasonable; however space is at a premium. So if you have product to sell or if you want to read, NOW is the time to contact me to reserve your space. And if you have friends with crafts, T-shirts, candles, or the like who might like to be a part of our trade room, please have them contact me.

Third, I have already gotten a couple of queries about staff positions. At the moment, it looks like we will have enough tapers and monitors. However, we MAY be looking for a reg assistant. This would probably involve about 3 hours of desk duty per day, probably from 2:30 – 5:30. So yes, you would miss afternoon lectures. However, you would get the morning lectures, the opening, and sweet messages for no charge. The right person, assuming we go this route, would be friendly, efficient, reliable, prompt, and would have good boundaries. You might be handling money, so ability to make change is also pretty crucial. Registration experience and/or familiarity with SOTA would be a plus. If this appeals to you, let me know and I’ll put you in touch with Myra. As I’ve said, this is still under discussion, so it’s not a done deal, but we’d like to see if we’ve got a likely candidate just in case.

Fourth, the person who won the GLAC registration at SOTA last year is unable to attend. Pam would hate to see it go to waste. So would I, because GLAC is a neat little conference with some very good speakers. Think Nick Dagan Best, Richard Smoot, Monica Dimino, Joyce Levine, and yours truly among others. Dates are April 9-13; location is Ann Arbor, Michigan which is in itself a neat place. If you happen to be free that weekend and would like this registration, contact me and I’ll put you in touch with Pam. And then I’ll see you there. This one is strictly first-come, first-served — and before claiming it, please make sure you can go!

And speaking of GLAC, as yet there has been no decision about a special SOTA 2015 rate for GLAC attendees except that any discount will be off the March 21 rate. There will, however, be a draw for a SOTA conference registration. Another good reason to go if you’re not as yet registered.

OK, so what about SOTA offerings:

Well, for starters, Patricia Bell has cancelled due to a schedule conflict. I am currently working on finding 2 replacement speakers (yeah, it will take two to replace Patricia). Details will be available in the next newsletter or as soon as I have them, whichever comes first. I should have speaker confirmations in the next couple of days, but topics may take longer.

However, on a more positive note, Adam Gainsburg is back. If you’re not familiar with Adam’s work, he is one of a new breed of astrologers whose work highlights the astrology of the living sky. His approach is both spiritual and astronomical. His visuals are amazing and pretty much guaranteed to evoke insights. Here’s his topic for this year:

Sky Phases: The Original Planetary Cycles​

The Sky Phases of the planets represent the very origin of the astrological tradition. The living sky was in fact the very first astrological “chart.” Through 3D software and explanatory graphics, this lecture will introduce the missing celestial ingredients from every round chart wheel and provide essential meanings for each. The combination of sound astrological technique, these ‘lost’ sky factors, and the central role planetary phases occupy in all of astrology will deepen and broaden your astrology.

Don’t think this will be boring. It won’t be. Nor is it for traditionalists only. This is a lecture everyone can benefit from.

No word yet as to whether or not Adam will also be in the trade room with his incredible software, but if he is, do yourself another favor and get a demo.  It’s a pretty remarkable program. And Adam is a pretty remarkable lecturer.


And on the new speaker front, Shirley Soffer will be joining us. Now don’t get me wrong — Shirley is definitely NOT a new speaker except in the sense of being new to SOTA. And in fact she was at SOTA some years ago but as part of a panel — which was a far cry from doing justice to her knowledge. In fact, Shirley has been a regular at numerous NCGR conferences over the years, as well as being a very active teacher on the New York scene. She is also the education director for NCGR-PAA, which might give you some idea as to the depth and breadth of her knowledge. Here’s her topic:

A Language in Common:  Astrology & Jungian Psychology

For those of us whose work in astrology focuses more on psychological themes rather than on a purely predictive type of practice, our perspective can often be seen to resonate with some key concepts in the teachings of Carl G. Jung, such as archetypes, the use of myths, synchronicity, psychological types, and shadow.

This is a very solid presentation that has been presented to the Jung Society in New York as well as to astrologer. And whether you’re a traditional astrologer or a modern one, if you’re dealing with people, this is material that’s well worth exploring. Shirley’s presentations are organized, clear, and fluff-free. You won’t be wasting your time on this one for sure.


OK, and on that note, I’m running late and getting later. As usual, please feel free to share this newsletter with friends, and don’t forget that deadline. Look for more news next week.