All art via Virgil Finlay Astrological Illustration
I think we could all stand a little more light and joy as this year comes to a close. I decided to reach out to someone whose work I’ve admired since meeting her a few years ago. Renee Sills is a Portland-based performance artist, the co-founder of Sola School of Contemplative Arts, a yoga, somatics and social justice school, and the founder of Embodied Astrology. You could spend hours digging around on her websites but suffice to say, she’s a total badass.
She shared some insight into her work as an astrologer, including horoscopes for our 2018 sexuality and relationships, included below in her interview.
We're all familiar with astrology, but I've learned from you that there are many ways to practice. How do you define astrology? And how would someone ideally use what astrology teaches us?
Astrology is a creative interpretation of astronomical data that works through symbolism and metaphor as well as observational analysis. Astronomy and astrology come from the same root, and together they are the oldest science, and one of the oldest practices for finding meaning and spiritual purpose. In the 17th century during the Age of Reason science and spiritually split. Astrology then became the domain of the occult and astronomy became the domain of science. That said, astrology is incredibly complex and is based in observational practice and peer review.
For tens of thousands of years astrologers have tracked how the human response and experience correspond with cycles and seasons of light: yearly, seasonal, daily. We also consider the effects of planetary light and gravitational pull. Light and gravity affect our bodies, and our bodies are where our experiences happen. So there’s the basic premise of how astrology works.
Most astrologers are also wonderful storytellers and mythologists. If you study the discovery of planets you’ll find that their names correspond to developments of popular consciousness at the time of their discovery. Part of how we make meaning from the planetary placements is in understanding how archetype and collective consciousness work through our clients.
People use astrology to find meaning in their lives and to contextualize that meaning within the greater culture and evolutionary circumstance. It can be very accurate and predictive, so people also use it for timing of specific events, navigating their relationships, making career plans, and so on.
How is your astrology practice different than the weekly horoscopes people might read? Does it connect with your art and/or bodywork and movement practice?
I take a distinctly feminist stance. A lot of popular astrology is based on heteronormative and patriarchal assumptions of how people live and what their values are. I assume my readers are intersectional, queer (to some extent,) and critical thinkers.
Because of my background as a somatics educator (bodywork and movement studies), and being someone who is very interested in healing, my horoscopes tend toward physical and embodied descriptions, as well as physical, mental and emotional sensations.
I also tend to focus more on psychological and spiritual aspects than most popular mainstream astrology or horoscope columns. Even the yoga classes I teach are also immersive experiences that blend astrology and art.
There is a significant movement of queer and feminist astrologers right now so I’m definitely not alone, but I think I’m pretty unique in that I blend a developed, participatory art practice, and somatic and movement practice into the astrology I offer.
Where else can people learn about your work?
I post blogs twice a month at the new and full moons. Starting next year I will actually be offering a weekly subscriber horoscopes for the first time! Each one will include horoscopes for all 12 signs, a podcast, and a somatic meditation. All of that can be found on my Embodied Astrology site.
I also have several upcoming workshops including Let’s Talk About Sexual Healing: Friday, January 12th, 2018 6-9pm. Participants will learn about conventional and non-conventional approaches to adult sexual education. I offer sliding scale at most of my workshops, including this one, and you can register online!
Can you give us some insights into our sexuality and relationships for 2018?
If you have any aspirations for making a business out of what turns you on, 2018 will be the year to do it.
Sex and desire is the place from which all knowledge is born. The more you pursue your own desire, the more your mind will expand this year.
Heal the ancestral patterns that are holding you back. Particularly those that deal with abuse or abandonment. You can start with your parents or the people that raised you, and reach backwards from there.
This will be the year that dissolves whatever mental blocks have been preventing you from receiving what you want from your relationships.
Pay attention to the erotic and sensual nature of your daily life. This will propel you forward on your path and dissolve the barriers that might keep you from being recognized for all that you give.
Giving yourself fully to your passion. Expressing yourself authentically. Getting out of the boxes you find yourself in. These will be the keys to complete and total positive transformation and empowerment of your relationships.
Admitting what you want and demanding it are two different things. This year you’ll begin to master the sensitivities and complexities required for sharing all types of space: physical, financial, and psychic.
The easiest way to say what you feel is to pause... and feel what you’re going to say before speaking. This is the year of authentic expression for you, and that includes in the bedroom.
This year, money is sexy. Don’t be afraid to ask for what you want.
Your sign is essentially known as relating to sex, death and money. This year you’ll have many chances to learn from those three things. Remember that all three are gateways to power and also to sacredness.
This is the year for you to explore the invisible and the unknown. You might consider blindfolds, or restraints.
Desire and friendship can teach you a lot about how sexy you are. This in turn will expand your sense of future possibilities, goals or aspirations.
Renee’s work as an artist spans expanded therapeutic practices, astrology, pedagogy, entrepreneurship, ritual, online forums, soundscape, video, dance, and writing. She regularly presents in small workshops and intimate gatherings, as well as online. Visit her Embodied Astrology website to learn more about her private practice. There you can read her blog, listen to podcasts, book private or multi-person readings, or enroll in one of her workshops.
Written by Erica Meryl Thomas