Monday, December 24, 2012

A Willow's Web Astrology Interview with Antero Alli

I was exposed to Antero Alli's refreshing astrology on the San Francisco-based message board site tribe.net between 2005 and 2007. His writing and astrological insight are beautifully, coolly atmospheric and smooth as silk. Keeping a vast Uranian mind as grounded and accessible as he has is no small feat. He's an elitist, but he's kind about it.

Some of the few times I've read my own astrological thoughts communicated back to me through someone else's words on the computer screen, I was reading Antero's writing.

I haven't had contact with Antero's creative stream since 2007, and I'm happy to share this interview with him now, which includes some e-mail dialogue.

Antero lists his birth information online, and I got consent ahead of time to ask questions related to his natal chart.

Antero Alli is an underground filmmaker, a leader and innovator in paratheatre, and a practising astrologer. In that order.

He is the founder and director of ParaTheatrical ReSearch in Berkeley, California.

His films include Flamingos, Dream of Falling Upwards, The Invisible Forest, The Mind is a Liar and a Whore, The Greater Circulation, Under a Shipwrecked Moon, Hysteria, Tragos, and The Drivetime.

Antero has written books and screenplays, and his astrological books include Astrologik: The Oracular Art of Astrology and Letters, Essays & Premonitions: An Astrologikal Journal.

His astrological information can be found at verticalpool.com.

Antero was born in Helsinki, Finland. He moved to Toronto, Canada when he was three years old and then to Los Angeles, California when he was 10. He has also lived in Colorado, Washington, and London, England.

Antero resides in Berkeley, California with his wife and creative partner, Sylvi.

He has been practising astrology professionally since 1980.



Willow: Location has such a strong effect on a person’s astrology, as well as on his or her niche as an astrologer. I visited California for the first time this past spring, and NorCal seems like a dreamy Neptunian bubble world, in many respects. Even the strip malls are pretty! There are also a very high number of astrologers in that area, per capita. How has inhabiting the particular petri dish of Berkeley influenced your creative development astrologically? 

Antero: The great ethnic diversity spawning from the UC Berkeley campus has made this town into a kind of social petri dish. Just the other day while walking downtown, I heard five different languages spoken on the streets and that's not even including proper British English and American English. There's also this high tolerance for contraries amongst people's beliefs, politics, and religions that fosters an undercurrent, if not of compassion then, of acceptance of differences.

The way all this influences me personally is not so much as an astrologer but as a human being and a filmmaker prone to experimentation and with combining different art mediums into intermedia hybrids. Having lived in Berkeley for over twenty-five years (between 1972-1982 and then again, since 1996), I've definitely become more tolerant of differences in people. There's an intellectual climate here that encourages experimentation and innovation, precisely the kind of climate and qualities I find nurturing and stimulating. 

Though many astrologers live in this area, I am out of touch with that community. Though I do speak at a local conference every seven years or so, I don't hang out with astrologers. I am more like a renegade in that community who makes an appearance once in a while and then vanishes for many years. My friends are artists, writers, actors, dancers, and musicians. I am more like an artist by passion and an astrologer by trade, though I don't really identify with any one self-image.

Willow: How do you think your Finnish roots have influenced the flavour of the astrology you practice?
Antero: That's not something I've thought much about as I don't really identify as a Finn. In fact, I don't really identify as anything. I feel more free to do everything I do when I'm not caught up in any fixed self-image. Though I was born in Helsinki and maintain Finnish citizenship as a green-card alien here in the USA, I feel no national pride either way. Perhaps my Finnish roots can be traced back to a certain stubbornness and sense of humor common to Finns I know personally. Maybe my Finnishness also supports how others see me as an outsider or foreigner. 

Willow: You have what one would call a cult following as a filmmaker. Would you characterize your astrological audience in the same way?
Antero: I would not know if I have a cult following in my astrological audience; maybe I do. This uncertainty stems from my three-reading per lifetime policy. I'm not one of those whose clients continue arriving at the doorstep or e-mail cache over decades of consultation. That scenario rubs me the wrong way. It goes against the principles of autonomy and integrity that I fulfill in my person and, whether they like it or not, that I support in others. Of course, I am grateful for whatever love and passion others have and show for my work. However, if these same people are paying close attention they would know that I would never lead them anywhere beyond their own direct firsthand experience as the primary source of their spiritual authority. I am more like a spiritual anarchist that way. Life itself is the Guru. If we are still capable of still having an experience, we are fortunate enough to be guided by the compass of our own intuition.

Willow: You’ve questioned the trend toward standardization of astrology in the past, as have I, and you suggest it is the outsider’s view that makes astrologers so valuable to those who seek them out. Black Moon Lilith is one of the placements I associate with that outsider or fringe perspective, so necessary for the mainstream to really see and understand itself. You have a prominent Black Moon Lilith in Leo conjunct your natal Pluto. Would you say you necessarily hold a place on the outer edge of even the fringe-dwellers or alternative scenes?

Antero: The thing is, I do not think of myself in terms of fringe this or fringe that. Though that's a label others may find more useful, it's somewhat meaningless to me personally. I also don't consider myself on any edge since what I do is natural and normal to my temperament. It doesn't look like edge to me; it looks like who I am and what I do. If others see some edge or whatever, that's fine. Maybe I am simply missing a chip in my brain that compels me to compare myself with others or with society. I just don't do that. I don't compare myself or my work with anyone else or anything else. It's a waste of time and energy. I prefer a far less dualistic experience of who I am, who I am becoming and the work generated from that vortex... 
I am content with an audience and clientele distilled from maybe 1% of the general populace. Now you might think all this makes me out to be some fringe-dwelling outsider weirdo but in reality, I'm probably one of the more well-adjusted, honest, and "normal" persons you will meet. In my world, I'm not an outsider as much as an insider. I've got an inside scoop on life. Though I am clearly a school failure (barely graduating high school with zero college), I am a life success -- more street smart than book smart...
 
Willow: I don't mean to seem contentious, but there seems to be a disconnect between what you've written here... 

"We know who we are. We are the dispossessed, the outcasts, rebels with a cause who have upturned the mulch of our dead lives and seeded those fertile fields with incendiary visions of our future selves. Having already subverted the norm, we renunciate dominator culture's status quo of everything and drift happy disconnected - babes in the abyss - wavering in the ambiguity fog of dislocation..."
 
...and the idea that you do not think of yourself as fringe or on the edge. Maybe the term is not a good one. I don't like being called fringe, myself, but I know what is being referred to when that word is used.
 
What is the difference among "the dispossessed, the outcasts, the rebels with a cause" and "the fringe, outskirt dwellers, on the edge?"

Antero: The above paragraph is not about me. It's written as a call for those who might relate with it, who are courting marginal lives or walking through some bardo zones between existences, and who may find solace in these words. My writing is not always autobiographical; often times, what I say is ore for others than for or about me. Libra rules my 11th House where Saturn/Neptune in Libra reside. I have noticed a certain altruism linked with this in me.
 
Willow: Though astrology is considered outside the mainsteam, there is still a discernable astrological establishment. Will astrologers labelled ‘fringe’ ever hold a respected and recognized place among the more establishment or Saturnine astrologers?
 
Antero: I hope not. But then, I don't clamor to become respectable or taken seriously by Saturnine folks who discredit or dismiss me or my work simply because they cringe at fringe. Besides, that's their label, not mine. Like I've said, I'm actually an insider who just appears to be an outsider. Anyone who can see through my outsider front and into the inner workings of who I am and what I do, well, you get my full attention and respect.
 
When we speak of a tribe's hub and its outer limits or fringe, we can see a spectrum of humanity at play. Those closest to the hub are called to carry the burden and the glory of the tried and true traditions of legacy. Those escaping the hub are called to explore life beyond the borders as frontier scouts of their gene pool where they gather new experience and information, and maybe even create some future myths to live by. These scouts often return to the hub, share their stories, and then head back out to the frontiers to quench their novelty thirst. Every fringe culture has done this, just as every mainstream culture has absorbed and assimilated artifacts the fringe-dwellers bring back.
 
It's a big wide world with a place for everybody to practice their craft, whatever that might be, and learn whatever they can to advance their skills and knowledge. This includes all the elitist cliques of merchants whose work crystalize around fixed ideas, dogmas, and images of legitimacy. They have every right to practice as much as others have a right to avoid them or try to join them. Obviously, I avoid them when I can - like the emotional plague so many of them are.
 
Willow: I guess my own experience of this is that it's not always a choice to leave the hub or to exist on its outskirts. It is not always an individual choosing escape from the burdens of traditional life, but a necessary path that is chosen for him or her. There are dangers and burdens (and yes, glories) related to life on the outskirts. It's not just Pan and his flute, tra-la-la, if you know what I mean. The stories coming back from the frontiers are not always thrilling or Sagittarian adventure-filled, either. A lot of times, they're very harsh. My interpretation of Black Moon Lilith is related to this.

The hub often soaks up and utilizes the energy and perspective from the outer edge but then treats it as "dirty little secret." The hub will co-opt this perspective for its own ends and water it down to be more palatable, which misses the point entirely. The New Age co-opting the "darker, edgier" side of things would be an example of this.

I would not refer to myself as a fringe astrologer, but I have been labelled this, and I have also seen how more established astrologers have utilized my work and perspective without giving me full status as an equal. This is another aspect of Black Moon Lilith for me - the interactions between the outsider and the mainstream society. How to go about things without damage to either party, and so that those who are working the outer edges do not get used or abused for their trouble.

Yes, you can come to an empowered place with Black Moon Lilith or any astrological indicator, but to make it to full empowerment takes a great deal of conscious work with tricky dynamics that are usually kept hidden.

Is there anything you would add to this?

Antero: Well, I never said it was a choice to be closer to the tribal hub or the outer fringes. I said it was a calling. When we are called to the hub or to the fringe, at the point we can choose to ignore the call or run with it. I think DNA plays a big role here. My theory is that we are born into certain kinds of genetic castes with predispositions towards certain callings and directions. We also have free will to fight or to go along with deep traits inherited from our ancestors. It's the old fate vs/. destiny game. To me, our fate lies with the cards we're dealt. Our destiny takes shape by how we play them.

I favor your view on Black Moon Lilith and am sorry for your struggles with social betrayal around the abuse (lack of accreditation) of your hard-earned work. You must be careful not to become snagged by the Scapegoat complex which, for me, marks an important research revelation for anyone studying BML. If I knew your chart, I could offer more specific perspective on your BML.

Willow: I don't fall into scapegoat complex. That sounds similar to "victim consciousness," which is another concept I find extremely lacking. I describe the dynamics as they play out so that they can become known and consciously altered or avoided.
 
That's why I don't give out my birth info - I don't like being astrologically analyzed unless I've paid for a reading!

Willow: What have been the markers of success for you as an astrologer?

Antero: I measure my astrological success strictly by the nature of feedback received from clients since 1980. I would never know how successful my readings are without hearing from those I perform the service for.

Willow: I imagine the Black Moon Lilith influence on your natal Pluto would allow you a special vantage point as far as your Pluto generation, the notorious Pluto in Leos.You also have an Aquarius North Node, which would indicate a great objectivity, an awareness of where things must go, and a general affinity (perhaps hard-won) for Aquarian themes and ideals. The Pluto in Leo generation seems specially positioned for the opening of the astrological Aquarian era. Suns that have sustained in the past are now burning out. There’s the potential for miraculous progress but also for stunning failure. How do you think things need to shift for the established Pluto in Leo astrologers/members of your Pluto generation to maintain the creative relevance they so desire as we move into Aquarius?

Antero: Yesterday's star is tomorrow black hole. What has worked for centuries -- in terms of economic, social, and political realities -- is obviously not working anymore. We are learning to live through an era of dying gods, exfoliating cultures, and collapsing civilizations. Many of us have not heard the news yet and among those that have, many are too shell-shocked to mobilize their resources to evolve themselves...

I shy away from generalizations whenever possible for several reasons. They tend to grossly over-simplify inherently complex dynamics and foster a false sense of certitude about what might be happening. With that said, for better and for worse, I find that each generation tends to lay the groundwork for future generations. For the Pluto in Leo group, it's now out with the old and in with the new. Their fixed fire quality is probably there for a reason. Their heels digging in, they don't want to go, don't want to give up their Leonine crown. Yet, as ancient mythology shows us, the King must die. Hence, we have before us an era of The Dying Kings giving way to more egalitarian socialist principles.

Willow: Many of the established astrologers I’ve interacted with seem to want a level of deference and ego-pampering that I’m not willing to offer. I understand mutual respect, but this goes beyond that. Many seem to carry a list of previous accomplishments around like a set of luggage. It might be a set of gorgeous, vintage luggage, but it’s still baggage. With the coming of stronger egalitarian Aquarian impetus, do you see established astrologers ever just dropping the bloat and working as comrades? 

Antero: Like yourself, I have low tolerance for what I call delusions of entitlement. Whether they're attached to astrologers or non-astrologers, it doesn't matter. Like you say, it's still baggage. I also know that if there's going to be any lasting change in people's attitudes, it must come from within. There's nothing I can do or say to make the bloat go away, unless it's my own bloat. And since bloat sinks the boat, I prefer to stay on top of that tendency which can happen to anyone who's not paying close attention. 

Willow: You refer to astrology as your day job but have also said you keep up an astrology practise in your spare time. What purpose does astrology serve in your life these days?

Antero: Doing readings for over thirty years has resulted in enough mastery to be paid well for my skills and talents. For the last fifteen years, I have chosen to work part-time to allow more time for my artistic activities and more astrology-free time simply to think, live, and dream. I'm not one to consult the astrological ephemeris every morning to decide what will happen that day. The purpose of astrology is in its use as a tool that can be put back in the shed when I'm done using it. To use astrology also means to be free from astrology. Its purpose is to refer us back to life itself.

Willow: Usually, people work day jobs they aren’t entirely thrilled about to pay the bills so that they can do what they really love. Has astrology become that sort of day job for you?

Antero: No, astrology has been good to me. Even though art is my passion and astrology my trade, it's a trade I find mutually useful. I learn as much about myself with every reading I do for others. I also never give more than one reading per day and often times, the workload is much lighter than that. That completely eliminates the danger of burnout for me. I also teach an annual 6-week course online in Autumn, a crash course in Horoscope interpretation featuring my own "tricks of the trade" approach.

Willow: The possibility of that is upsetting for me to think about, as your astrology was always so thrilling, so refreshing, so dynamic and fluid to me. I know professional astrology can be a grind, but do you still derive any enjoyment or a sense of satisfaction from your practise of astrology today?

Antero: Oh sure I do. If I didn't derive satisfaction or meaning from it, I would quit. I have Moon in Virgo in the 9th House, fercrissakes. And I did quit for two years back in 1998. I only decided to return under the condition that I'd raise my rates and only work part-time. Practicing astrology also serves as a kind of reality check for me, insofar as I feel I can only discuss those issues with others that I have first faced myself. Astrology practice also balances my artistic life which depends more on right-brain processes and not explaining anything. Between my work with astrology and cinema, I feel like I have a whole brain!

Willow: You have Saturn conjunct Neptune in Libra in your natal chart, and this placement is very visible in your work. Paratheatre seeks to erase the divisions between performer and spectator, and this erasing of divisions seems characteristic of your work in all fields. The interplay between dream life and waking life, making them as close to ‘one and the same’ as possible, is also a theme, including in your most recent film. This Saturn-Neptune conjunction is very prominent and strongly aspected in your natal chart. Do you still find yourself disappointed when physical forms or people do not live up to what is imagined? 

Antero: I have only experienced disappointment when I was unconscious of my expectations or the limitations of a given form or group or a person. That was more the case throughout my twenties and thirties. As I mentioned before, I love bringing my dreams into manifestation. I've been able to do this through a hard-earned, time-intensive process of trial and error to gain real knowledge of my given strengths, weaknesses, limitations, and talents. In doing so, I can more accurately assess the given strengths, weaknesses, limitations, and talents in those I work with and calibrate my sights accordingly. My forties and fifties have proven to be the most prolific eras of my life so far as a result of this calibration process. 

Willow: What perspective do you have on the other side of your second Saturn return (October 2011) as far as any illusions you have chased? 

Antero: It's become clearer to me that I zero time or energy for senseless drama and pointless suffering. I prefer all my drama onscreen now -- my films have become increasingly dramatic. 

Willow: Saturn-Neptune contacts in Libra can indicate a longing for love and romance to live up to their full promise and potential. How has this Saturn-Neptune in Libra undertone played out in your personal relationships?

Antero: Ain't love grand? Since turning forty, most of my romantic longings and experiences have been grist for the Art mill. The transformation of love into Art is where it's been at for me. I am just another love slave to the Muses. I have also been living with my lover, friend, and main artistic collaborator, the beautiful and monstrously talented Sylvi, for 17 years now. some days, it feels like we're just getting started. 

Willow: The Neptunian pining is well-documented with singles and in cases of unrequited love, but how is the Saturn-Neptune conjunction and the element of the ‘grand ethereal longing’ translated into a long-term marriage, like yours?

Antero: The couple that plays together stays together. We're both the same age with the same Saturn/Neptune conjunction and carry the knowledge of manifesting our dreams and fulfilling our fantasies. We collaborate extensively. She composes music for all my films and sometimes, she acts in them. Sylvi is also my harshest critic and biggest fan. She is a composer and singer in her own right who also teaches voice. Our charts share multiple quincunxes, which keeps things very interesting over the long haul. At the start of our relationship things were difficult but once we figured out a few things, like when it's best for the other to get their way and when it's best to assert ourselves, things flow swimmingly. Our relationship has always revolved around a trinity. Sylvi, me and the Art we create together.

Willow: What is one thing that never ceases to annoy you?
Antero: Self-denial - in myself and in others.

Willow: What's one thing people would be surprised to find out about you?

Antero: I can play the piano with my eyes closed.

9 comments:

Anonymous said...

Am SO happy to see this interview.
A convergence of kick-ass, accurate and responsible astrologers.
Thanx!

Anonymous said...

Hyvaa tyota Antero!! Hyvaa uutta vuotta ja vuoden jatkoa!

Jason said...

Nice read, I like that he only gives 3 readings at a time. How does he fit all that into them. I feel a chart is so complex more than 3 visits is needed. Especially with beginners...

But interesting read once agian Willow,

Can we get recored podcasts of your daily go abouts around town running into normal people. I WOULD LOVE that. Willow commentary after xray vision commentary.

But we get alot here already,

Willow said...

heehee...

'Interactions With Norms' podcasts

I'll put that on the list of things to ponder.

dreambody23 said...

To: Jason

re: my 3-reading limit per lifetime.

Yes, each chart is quite complex; some more complex than others. How do I fit everything into three readings? Good question. It has taken a lot of practice reading thousands of charts to detect the essential patterns, or geometries, of any given horoscope rather quickly. From there, it's a matter of how to best communicate that perception to the client in the most simple and direct ways I know how.

It's also important for me to convey this knowledge in such a way that the client is left with an expanded sense of their own autonomy and the significance of their own decision-making processes. I like to expose each client to enough of their own inner processes as a personal compass -- so they no longer need me or anyone else to guide them.

- Antero

Jason said...

That must be a all day or 3-4 hour event, each time then, everyone has there own way of practice, i just cant see myself getting the complete magesty grace and beauty of the complete syncronicity of the universe down to the through the client, in 3 readings. But then again i live in america, and alot of us here are running around with calcified pienial glands and toxic body burden, for my friends and clients it takes more than 3- and im afraid to let them guide themselves, even i need my chart to slap me in the face every now and then to guide me, so i try and get them to learn to read there own chart. But 3 is not a number i could do it in down here or, the type of people i deal with.

And if i cast them among a toxified american sea of there own barometer of morals, well im afriad of what can happen.. So guide i can be, where ever when ever its needed. Chiron does sit on my MC so is probably why i feel 3 would not be enough involvement for me.

But i really liked you guy's conversation :)

Willow said...

I think people might tend to "guru-ize" Antero a bit. I think the idea is that the limits on his readings would help keep any dependence or transferal of will from happening.

Though, that will hopefully become less of a problem the further into Aquarius we get!

Jason said...

Yes, i need to watch for that as i have SN in the 7th so, its all a balance i suppose, i think with chiron on the MC we feel this intense responsibility to heal the public, but with my set up, (Its kinda like having a Cancerian NN and a Capricon Moon) i do need to watch the transferrance of will, but if there will is ill, and mine is not, then transfer of my will in conjunction of the permission of the universe ill try. :)


Anyway if willow likes you, then you are the man Antero.. Ill be tracking down some of ur stuff soon with meh fallin scorpio moon..

.

Willow said...

He wrote a lot as Sherpa on the Astrology tribe at tribe.net. But he quit the site - as most of us did at one time - and now all those old posts say Unsubscribed.

He posts about his astro classes on there sometimes, I think.

He posts some of his articles on his site verticalpool.com, and you can also buy his astro books from that site.