Foreword This Week
September 10, 2020
Reviewer Kristine Morris Interviews Theresa Cheung, Author of The Astrology Fix: A Modern Guide to Cosmic Self Care
Put one foot in front of the other. Pay attention to this, overlook that. Seek a bit of happiness, try to live in a way that feels right. That’s basically what we all do to get by. And yet, for many of us, deep down we know there’s so much we’re missing just below the surface—and in the stars.
Did you know the Egyptians began working with astrological birth charts more than 6000 years ago? And that virtually every culture since then has believed that the alignment of the stars and planets at your birth will affect you as long as you live? When you look at how in tune the rest of nature is with the cosmos, seems plain that we have much to learn. The fact that scientists remain skeptical says as much about the mediocre sensitivity of their testing equipment and lack of imagination as it does about anything else.
So, why don’t you look to the skies for inspiration, understanding, and healing? Your ancestors did. Master astrologer Theresa Cheung sees it this way: “You can choose to dance or you can choose to sleep under your stars.” Dancing sounds like more fun to us. Theresa, show us how.
This week, with the help of White Lion Publishing, we put reviewer Kristine Morris in touch with Theresa for lessons on living life to the starriest. Kristine bestowed a coveted star on her review of Theresa’s new The Astrology Fix for the July/August issue of Foreword Reviews, so we knew a fascinating conversation was in the, well, stars.
Kristine, lead the way.
The Astrology Fix delves into both the light and shadow sides of the personality as reflected in the birth chart, and offers suggestions for “fixes” to bring our light to the fore and learn how to be the best we can be. What led you to this innovative way of working with the birth chart?
For the past few years, I’ve made it my mission to make spiritual or New Age tools, such as astrology, more mainstream and accessible. I want to bring their wisdom to new audiences, as there is a tendency for astrology to speak to a niche audience, or to the “converted” only. I hope this illustrated book and its novel approach will make astrology more engaging and easier to understand. And as for the shadow and light sides of our personality, astrology is the perfect way to show that both sides complement each other and are needed to create our personality and our destiny. It is through understanding ourselves—our potential as well as our struggles and conflicts—that we learn and grow. We don’t tend to grow when we are in our comfort zone.
When did you become involved in astrology and spiritual studies? What drew you to follow this path?
I was born into a family of psychics and spiritualists, and my mother was a professional astrologer, so from as early as I can remember, talk of “as above, so below” and how it was written in the stars was commonplace. I remember how exciting and magical that talk always was, and how it helped me understand myself and others better. It also inspired me to research and write about it. I wanted others to know how empowering astrology can be as a self-help tool. It is about far more than just knowing your Sun sign.
In what ways have you found astrology’s power as a tool for growth and development to be true for you?
Life is about understanding yourself and finding what gives you meaning. It’s not always easy to know who you are and what your purpose is. It takes time to escape the expectations of others or the need to seek your identity outside yourself—in your career status, your looks, your popularity, or in your relationships. But sooner or later, you start to realize that true meaning can only be found from the inside out. People often say to me that I have a quiet confidence, and that comes from understanding my potential astrologically. Simply knowing that I am an Aries with Virgo rising and the Moon in Cancer has helped me enormously. I have that fierce Arian energy, but I’m also a Virgo perfectionist, and my heart and soul are lunar-inspired. These might have felt like conflicting forces, but it never felt like an internal struggle for me. It all made perfect sense. I found ways to ensure that my inner drives balanced and complemented each other. For example, my Arian drive gives me the courage to dream big and showcase what I do, while the Virgo in me steps in to ensure that I follow through and pay attention to details, and my Cancer heart ensures that I take good care of myself and don’t lose sight of what truly matters to me.
As a child, did you feel that you and your family were very different from those around you? How were you perceived by your friends? How did you handle it?
Yes, as I was born into an alternative family and have sensitive personality traits, I did often feel like the odd one out. My friends would often tease me or call me a “crybaby” when my Moon in Cancer would bubble to the surface. They knew my mother was an astrologer, and that made me a target for bullying. I guess it took being accepted into King’s College Cambridge for my teachers and friends to shift their opinion of me.
Would you advise parents to gain some understanding of their child’s astrological chart, as well as their own, and how the two might tend to impact each other?
Raising children is a blessing, but it’s not always easy. Knowing your own Sun sign can be extremely helpful from a psychological perspective, as your Sun represents what drives and motivates you and what you need to do in order to feel fulfilled. For example, Arians need to pioneer, Geminis need to communicate, and so on. The rising sign is how others see you, and the Moon sign is your emotional life or inner world. Our children often have different personalities and styles from our own, and, especially during the teenage years, children are not always communicative with their parents. Understanding the basics of their birth chart can really help break the ice. For example, if your child is a Cancer, mood swings may be more frequent, and, knowing this, you can help them work through them. If their rising sign is Leo, they may present an extroverted face to the world, while inside they may be feeling anything but confident. Knowing this can really help you understand them. Every child, indeed, every person, longs to feel understood. Astrology can help you do that.
As you grew and matured, how did your knowledge of astrology guide you in making life decisions? How did it protect or benefit you?
I’m an Aries, and Arians needs to initiate and be the change they want to see, but my cautious Virgo rising sign often steps in to slow me down. At first, I resented that. But, as a major issue for Arians is not following through—being great at beginnings, but not so good at endings—over time, I came to love my Virgo rising. For example, on one occasion, I was approached by an entrepreneur who had a vision for promoting my work. They were incredibly flattering and generous, and I was caught up in a wave of enthusiasm—I nearly signed all my books away! But thankfully, I didn’t. My Virgo rising quietly reminded me that I needed to do my due diligence, and that when something sounds too good to be true, it usually is. I didn’t want to hear that Virgo caution, but I’m so glad it stepped in, because six months down the line, I realized that I was totally incompatible with the business vision of that entrepreneur. The project was a disaster waiting to happen.
What brought you to write The Astrology Fix? Did you see something lacking in the way astrology was being used? Did you find people feeling as though the placement of the planets in their charts fated them to experience certain things over which they had no power, or allowed them to make excuses for what they do? For example, a Taurean holding on to a grudge or wound from the past and feeling they can’t help it because it’s in the nature of Taurus to do so?
Yes. I believe that knowing both the potential and the shadow side of your astrological chart gives you choices. Just because Taureans can be stubborn, doesn’t mean they have to be. Taureans also have the potential to be infinitely generous, and that generosity can extend to their relationships. It’s all about choice. Choose the light side of your chart, not the dark.
For those who haven’t yet read your book, would you please give an example of what you mean by a “fix,” and how a potentially difficult planetary placement or aspect can be balanced by using one or more of your suggested fixes?
A fix is an engaging way to talk about a cure, or something that gives you a boost. I use it in the positive and inspirational sense, not the addictive. If there are aspects of your sign that you struggle with, for example, if you are a Gemini and want to avoid the tendency of that sign to gossip, you can perform a fix that helps you understand why gossiping is detrimental to your personal growth.
Would you please give an example of how current scientific research may be leading to support for astrology’s contention that far-away planets can have an influence on one’s character and potential?
There’s a lot of research that suggests that people born at certain times of the year are more likely to chase certain careers. For example, nurses are more likely to be born under the sign of Cancer, which isn’t surprising given that Cancer is known to be a nurturing sign. However, in my opinion, perhaps the greatest evidence for the “as above, so below” concept is the Moon’s influence on the tides. You are up to sixty, or even seventy percent water! Think about that.
What do you say to those who argue that astrology does not work, or have religious or other objections to its use?
Each to their own. And if a person’s religion or belief turns them away from astrology, and that belief system brings fulfillment and meaning into their lives, then it is positive for them. All I can say is that astrology helps you understand yourself and others better, and makes you a kinder and happier person because of that greater understanding. What is the harm in that?
Astrology is amazingly complex. How far into the study of the planets, signs, houses, elements, transits, and more does one need to go to get an accurate reading?
If you want to make a living as an astrologer—charge for readings—you would need to do the years of study required and get the qualifications, but for the great majority, this in-depth knowledge is not necessary. In fact, it can unnecessarily complicate. A basic knowledge of astrology—what my fix book offers—is enough to get you started on the right track. You may want to take things further, but my motto is “Keep it simple.” Learn all you can about your Sun sign, and then perhaps your Moon and rising signs, and, in my opinion, you will have more than enough for a fairly accurate understanding of yourself.
Your book is so insightful and creative. The illustrations alone are energizing! What is the greatest benefit you hope readers will get from reading and working with your book?
I just hope they fall in love with astrology and let it light up their lives the way it has mine. The wonder of astrology is that it makes you feel endlessly interesting—like there is so much to discover about yourself every day. That’s the best way to live, in my opinion. As for the illustrations, they are stunning, aren’t they? I’m deeply grateful for them, and to my publisher for the opportunity to share my love of astrology.
Featured Reviews of the Week
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Thank You, Miyuki, by Roxane Marie Galliez; Seng Soun Ratanavanh, illustrator (Princeton Architectural Press): “Miyuki is full of energy and curiosity when she finds her grandfather meditating in a Lotus blossom. She begs him to teach her to meditate, too, but the patient old man takes her for a walk in the garden instead. … perhaps learning about meditation after all.” Starred review by Pallas Gates McCorquodale.
Religion/Autobiography & Memoir
Blessed Are the Nones: Mixed-Faith Marriage and My Search for Spiritual Community, by Stina Kielsmeier-Cook (InterVarsity Press): “Empathetic to those who’ve experienced a severing in their lives of faith, and includes the gift of phrases like ‘spiritual singleness’ and the simple word ‘relinquish.’” Review by Melissa Wuske.
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Cloud Hopper, by Beth Kephart (Penelope Editions): “Kephart’s lines are sensory and musical, leaning into zephyr and tempest winds with trust that the right words have magic.” Review by Michelle Anne Schingler.
Temple Dance, by Amy Weintraub (Tumamoc Press): “Amy Weintraub’s astonishing new novel evokes the power of a lost spiritual tradition through the story of two disparate women: a disgraced temple dancer from 1930s India, and a contemporary social worker in Massachusetts.” Review by Claire Foster.