Happy Birthday, Astrology Mundo!

It was one year ago today that I decided to join the blogosphere by launching Astrology Mundo. Now, 422 posts, 1,353 (approved) comments, and 136,901 hits later, Astrology Mundo is celebrating its first birthday.

My output has varied since I fired up the blog for the first time, courtesy of WordPress, on Mar. 17, 2008, but my love of the astrological and blogging community hasn’t.

There have been two contributors who have kept this blog afloat over the past year when my energy flagged — Regina at Gastriques and Gian Paul, who has given us The View from Brazil. Thanks to both of you!

Also, thanks to the astrobloggers who have taken the time to comment on my posts and to link to them. I can’t name them all, but I’m thinking of Jude Cowell at Stars Over Washington and Jude’s Threshold, Comet at Out the Comet’s Ass, Julie Demboski, Beth Turnage at Astrology Explored, and ElsaElsa of blog aggregator AstroDispatch, to name a few. I couldn’t have done it without you. (More links later!)

Away from the cosmos, SFMike of Civic Center and Susan DeMark of Mindful Walker have helped keep my feet firmly on the ground while I’m looking up at the stars.

Last but not least, a big shout-out to Pamela Cucinell, my roommate at last year’s United Astrology Conference and the host of AstroChatter Radio, where I put my two astro cents in on a (mostly) regular basis.

Thanks everybody! I love all of you, especially my readers!

On the Road Again

Some Astrology Mundo readers may wonder if I’m running out of steam after nine months of frenetic blogging. The truth is that I’ve been distracted by a death in the family and am on the road again. Spending seven hours a day driving doesn’t leave much time for blogging, especially as I’ve got a day job to handle.

I have a stellium of Venus/Jupiter/Mars in Sagittarius and it’s being activated by the Sun, Mercury, and Mars, which are all transiting Sag right now. I have a feeling that once Mars is in Capricorn, I’ll be furiously pounding the keyboard again. Thanks for your patience and support.

I’m also learning my way around the new WordPress release.

My Regulus Cousin

As I noted when I started Astrology Mundo, I’m using a “theme” called Regulus, the same name as the fixed star associated with royalty. Regulus was designed by Ben Millbanks at Binary Moon and is available for free from WordPress.

I know there is an astrology blog or two that is also using Regulus as its design. Now, I’ve just happened upon a political and culture blog called Prometheus Unbound that shares my starry theme.

In its tagline, Prometheus Unbound is described as “Santi Tafarella’s blog on books, culture, and politics.”

Tafarella’s lead post right now has the intriguing headline: “Like a Cat Covering Up Its…in Its Litter Box,” which explores Republican vice-presidential nominee Sarah Palin’s ties to an Alaskan successionist group. You can read the post here.

Note to Santi: Love your posts. Can you please make your headlines shorter? It’s easier on the eyes.

And, thanks again, Ben for giving us bloggers such a beautiful design. With Regulus on our side, we can’t go wrong. In the meantime, I’ve got to go clean out the cat’s litter box.

My Ever-Expanding Blogroll: Links-a-Go-Go!

Even though I’m a blogger, I’ve remained a wallflower at the social networking dance. You won’t find me or my picture on Facebook, MySpace, or the like. That doesn’t mean I don’t want to make friends in cyberspace; I just want to do it on my terms.

However, the people who hang out at the social networking sites quickly learn the etiquette about “friending” and the like. I’ve had to make my own rules, which, of course, have evolved over time.

When I started Astrology Mundo back on March 17, I decided to be quite selective about whom I added to my blogroll. At first, I was going to link only to astrology blogs. But I started getting so much help from foodie friend Regina that I added her blog Gastriques.

Then Groffoto provided me with my first photos and showed me how to upload pics. So then I had a photo blog on my blogroll, and another one when SFMike at Civic Center touched base over our mutual interest in Palm Springs.

A former college roommate likes to keep in touch and has a blog, so he made the cut with My Non-Urban Life.

The floodgates weren’t exactly open, but I had become more expansive than I had originally planned. Now, I’ve got links to blogs about my hometown of Beacon, N.Y. (Maykr) and revitalizing Main Streets, something near and dear to my heart.

I just noticed with the nifty tools that WordPress provides that I’m getting traffic from Collaborating With Fate so I’ve added a link to Kathryn Cassidy’s unique blend of trends, cycles, and astrology. Ditto for Learning Curve on the Ecliptic, which has a lot of great space and UFO sighting news.

Seduction Central is another new addition to my blogroll. My cyberpal Beth Turnage often posts there, and Seduction’s host, Jeffrey Kishner, just added me to another site of his, AstrologyBogger. Thanks, Jeffrey! If you want to find out whether love is in the stars for you, Seduction Central is a good place to start.

I’ve been resisting adding Out the Comet’s [you-know-what] because of its name, which is expurgated here. But Comet is a great site that plays off current events the way that Astrology Mundo does.

Still, I’m not ready to get raunchy with my blog. I’ve got a foul mouth in real life so I’m trying to clean up my act in cyberspace.

Finally, given all the traffic I got on my post about the Frenchwoman who didn’t come to lunch, I’ve decided to add the food and lifestyle blog of my favorite Frenchwoman, Anne de Ravel, who’s blogging from Languedoc.

Welcome, new blogroll buddies!

The 2008 United Astrology Conference: It’s a Wrap

One of my favorite things about WordPress is that you can see the sites and search terms that are generating your traffic. Right now, most of my readership is coming from people searching for news about the United Astrology Conference in Denver.

If you’re looking for my complete coverage, please go to Categories on the right-hand side of the screen and scroll all the way down to UAC Denver 2008. There, you’ll find all the articles I wrote about the Denver conference in one place.

Thanks for stopping by! After making my bid to reach 500 hits in one day, I made it to 650 yesterday, mostly based on the interest in UAC.

A Love Letter to WordPress

I’m crazy about the blogging program that WordPress offers for free. That’s right, you heard correctly: for free. As you can see from my first post, my brief association with TypePad was not a happy one.

What I love about the editing tools that WordPress provides is that I can save something and continue editing. That allows me to open up other Windows in Explorer and research a post while I’m writing it. WordPress tools also permit me to beef up a flimsy post, as I did this morning when I added more biographical detail to yesterday’s post about ballerina Maria Tallchief.

My philosophy about writing has always been to get the Christmas tree up first. Later on, you can add as many ornaments as you’d like. You can even put tinsel on the tree, something I usually regret doing because it looks gaudy. But with WordPress, I can take the tinsel off the tree if I don’t like it, not so easy to do on Christmas Eve when the guests are ringing the doorbell.

As a journalist, I’m used to cutting and pasting and weaving together material from other sources into my own piece. In the Internet Age, this has gotten some folks in trouble because it’s easy to become a plagiarist if you’re not paying attention. Are those my words or someone else’s in that Word document?

Well, my advice is to put quote marks around the stuff that you’ve imported from other sites, even when the information is just residing in your notes. Also, if you constantly credit your sources, they’ll be less likely to come after you. But sometimes great minds do think alike or “borrow” unconsciously. That’s evidently what George Harrison did when he wrote “My Sweet Lord” to the tune of “He’s So Fine,” the George Mack song recorded by the Chiffons in 1963.

What I also like about WordPress is that I can go back and clean up something I’ve already published. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve literally cried because I noticed a typo or a misspelled name (a crime that was punished by a verbal whipping from Peter Bart at Variety, where I used to work). With the Net, you see something wrong, you fix it. This is a godsend to me because I write so quickly that I’m always leaving out prepositions like “to” and “from.”

I’m a disaster at e-mail because I often push the button before I’ve proofread the note. Nothing like being in the journalism biz and sending the editor-in-chief an e-mail with a typo in it! And, yes, I’ve really done that.

So big kisses and hugs to the folks at WordPress for giving me the tools to save myself — from me. Also, kudos to Ben Gillbanks at Binary Moon, who designed the nifty template for my blog, which I was able to import from WordPress for free. The format is called “Regulus,” which astrologers know is the fixed star associated with royalty at 29 degrees of Leo. And, yes, I’ve admittted to not liking 29 degrees of anything, but I’ll take the star power of Regulus anytime.

I actually sent Ben an e-mail thanking him, but he probably gets so much fan mail that he’s not able to respond to everyone. Or else he thinks I’m a stalker. Anyway, as I told Ben in his e-mail I hope he gets “royalties” everytime someone chooses the template associated with the royal Regulus.

Blogging and Ballet

I have a confession to make: I don’t know where this blogging thing is going to lead me. Big deal, you say. But as a goal-oriented Capricorn, this is a departure for me. When I was 14, I gave up ballet after nine years of study because I didn’t get into a summer program at the Houston Ballet. I did more pirouettes than I dreamed possible for the audition, which took place at Suzanne’s School of Classical Ballet in Albuquerque, N.M., but I didn’t make the grade.

At that time, I was already 6 feet tall and I knew I wasn’t going to be the next Maria Tallchief, the Native American prima ballerina who was larger than life. Not long after, I quit taking ballet lessons and decided to focus all my efforts on the school yearbook and newspaper.

As an aside, when I just googled Suzanne, I learned that Suzanne M. Johnston will be honored on Apr. 26 in Albuquerque at the Arts Alliance Bravo Awards. Can you believe she started her school back in 1962? The “Duke City” was just a small town then. It’s wonderful to hear that Suzanne, as her students were permitted to call her, is still kicking and with a little luck, jetéing.

I quit ballet once it became apparent to me that it was not going to be my vocation. In my narrow Saturn/Mercury in Cap mind, I couldn’t afford to waste time on anything that wasn’t going to pay off. Hobbies? Those were for other people. Now, of course, before the Internet I had to find ways to amuse myself when I wasn’t pursuing my dream of becoming a reporter.

Once I stopped taking ballet classes every weekday, I mostly listened to the radio (I considered Casey Kasem of “American Top 40” a close personal friend), read books, particularly biographies of women, and calculated charts for friends.  There are many people who consider this period in your teens before you are allowed to get your driver’s license a golden age of creativity.

When it came to writing, I wasn’t interested unless I had an outlet for my words. Sure, I kept a diary for a little while but it wasn’t as satisfying as going out and interviewing people, writing stories, and — ta-daa! — seeing my byline in some publication. One of the first articles I wrote for The Sandian at Sandia High School in Albuquerque was about a gifted ballet dancer, Carla Neff, who studied at Suzanne’s School of Classical Ballet. I don’t know where Carla is today but perhaps she’s opened a dance school somewhere.

Ballet has been on my brain lately because there was recently a Native American Film Festival here in Palm Springs, and one of the presentations was Sandra and Yasu Osawa’s documentary about Maria Tallchief, which has been shown on PBS. Like most ballet students,  I idolized Maria, along with Anna Pavlova and Isadora Duncan, whose tragic death by strangulation put me off long scarves and convertibles forever. Unfortunately, a schedule conflict prevented me from attending the one screening of the Tallchief doc, but I started thinking about this amazing woman for the first time in many years.

Often, when a person who has been out of the public eye for a while pops back on the radar, it coincides with a Uranus transit to the Sun or Ascendant. Despite my best efforts, I couldn’t learn what time Tallchief was born. Even her own biography doesn’t mention it. According to Chapter One of “Maria Tallchief: America’s Prima Ballerina,” which Tallchief wrote with Larry Kaplan:

“I was born in Fairfax [Oklahoma] in the tiny local hospital on January 24, 1925. The doctor mishandled the forceps, leaving a large red mark on my forehead. Otherwise, I was healthy and normal. They named me Elizabeth Marie after two grandmothers: Eliza Tall Chief, and my Grandma Porter, who’d been named for Marie Antoinette, and with whom I would spend a great deal of time as a child. They called me Betty Marie.”

It was Agnes DeMille who suggested that the ballerina call herself Maria Tallchief and a brilliant suggestion it was. I spent about an hour trawling the Net in hopes of finding a birth time for Tallchief, checking places like AstroDataBank and Astrotheme, both of which are on my blog roll. No luck. Now, if anyone can find out when Tallchief was born, it’s Michael WolfStar over at StarIQ, but I don’t have his sources or persistence.

When you don’t have a time of birth, it’s customary to set the chart for noon. What’s strange is that method gives Tallchief an Aries rising with a Chiron/Mars conjunction in the first house, which would be entirely plausible for someone with a scar on her face!

In addition to a T square in fixed signs (Sun/Moon in Aquarius oppose Neptune/North Node in Leo square Saturn in Scorpio, Tallchief has a Capricorn triple conjunction of Venus/Mercury/Jupiter, which falls in the 10th house with a noon birth time. Because we don’t have a birth time, we don’t know for sure that the stellium, or group of planets, is in the 10th house of fame and career. Even if it isn’t, that powerful combination of planets would guarantee that Tallchief would have luck with foreigners and dignitaries.

Indeed, she studied under Russian dancer Bronislava Nijinska in Los Angeles and got her first big break with the Ballet Russe de Monte Carlo, where she became a soloist. Her collaboration with Russian choreographer George Balanchine, who was her husband for six years, at the New York City Ballet, where she was prima ballerina from 1947 to 1960, helped solidify her reputation. In 1953, no less than President Dwight D. Eisenhower named her “Woman of the Year.”

That powerful Capricorn stellium is opposed by Pluto in Cancer and trines Uranus, which is at 18 degrees, 59 minutes of Pisces. Tallchief isn’t having Uranus on her Sun right now, but she is having Uranus and Jupiter returns at the same time, which could account for the public interest in her career. You can look at the chart here.

Well, blogging has brought me back to my love of ballet. Perhaps it will lead me back to the barre.