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by Gary Brand - written April 14, 2005,
published in the May 2005 edition of Echo* newspaper

Earthrise over mountains on the Moon was taken by the
Apollo 11 crew Earthrise over mountains on the Moon was taken by the Apollo 11 crew on July 20th, 1969.  Australia is the landmass on the left side of this image of Earth.  Courtesy of NASA/Johnson Space Center.
 want to preface this article with an explanation of the reason for its subject.  Each issue of Echo* is partially devoted to a particular theme and the theme for this issue [May 2005] was unusual personal experiences.  This article is about such an experience of mine.

My teacher of astrology and life, Lucille Christie, told me on several occasions to keep a personal journal and, at times like this, I understand why.  I have had some unusual personal experiences but, in most cases, don't know the exact dates because I didn't record them.  Instead, I often wrote pages about the throws of some love relationship I was going though at the time (during my 14 years of dating between marriages).  How our perspective changes over time!  However, I did record the date of one of my out-of-body experiences:  December 4, 1982, when I was age 35.  This was just two days after a woman with whom I was madly in love jilted me so I was utterly heart-broken.  Two weeks later, I signed up to join Unity Church in Tallahassee.

On December 4, 1982, I attended an afternoon of "Findhorn Frolics" at the house of a friend and member of Unity.  About a dozen of us played "New Age," non-competitive, joyful games all that sunny, warm afternoon (yes, it's often warm in Florida during December).  By 5:00 we were worn out from laughing and running around her yard so we all stretched out on her living room floor for a guided, group meditation to end the gathering.  The music playing was Johann Pachelbel's Canon in D Major, a favorite of mine that usually has the effect of transporting me to another reality.  My birth chart has Venus, a ruler of music, in the 12th house of imagination and meditation in a trine with Neptune, the other ruler of music, and Neptune is in my 8th house in Libra, Venus' sign.  This means that I not only have a great appreciation for music but especially what I term spiritual music - music that transcends the span of history and normal reality.  As I listened to this canon, I noticed that I wasn't just hearing the notes and chords, I was also feeling them as vibrations throughout my body.  It felt like my whole body was resonating with each note and chord, although each note/chord had its own distinct feeling.

While this spiritual music was pulsing through my body, I lost touch with the voice of the woman giving the guided meditation and began to perceive colors pulsating in concert with the music (my eyes were closed throughout the meditation).  Then I felt my body moving, as if floating, out of the open front door of the house.  As my consciousness rose above the trees and houses on that street, I also saw a silvery cord apparently connecting my floating, conscious body with my reclined, dense body in the house.  I was more fascinated than scared as my conscious body continued to climb above the city, then the state, and North America until I seemed to be in orbit high enough above the Earth to see its curvature.  With the Sun on the limb, the part of the Earth I could see was lit by nightlights and the vast expanse of the stars and the Milky Way were stretched before me in all other directions.  I was awestruck by the limited size of our planet but simultaneously felt the connection between the Earth and the rest of the Solar System and the Universe.

As I humbly and motionlessly floated there, I felt that I belonged not just to the Earth but was a child of the Galaxy.  As this realization permeated my being, I watched my projected body become younger until it regressed to a translucent fetus and the silver cord connecting me with my earth-bound body dissolved - replaced by a funnel-shaped umbilical cord that extended out toward the stars.  The symbolism for me of that moment was a rebirth of consciousness and my connection with everything (and everyone - even my lost lover) and the affirmation that I am truly a limitless child of the Galaxy.  Unfortunately, the guided meditation leader was bringing the group out of the meditation and, as much as I wanted to stay in that limitless space, my friends were stepping over me and shaking me to come out of it.

What was the astrology of that day for me?  The transiting planets (the actual positions of the planets on that date) give a picture of my experiences at that time.  Transiting Jupiter was conjunct (two degrees from) my Jupiter in Scorpio in my 9th house (called a Jupiter return - happens every 12 years).  Jupiter is a spiritual planet and symbolizes higher consciousness and mystical experiences, especially in the 9th house - formerly called the house of God, and that house symbolizes our search for a personal connection with God.  At this time in my life, the sermons of the minister of Unity Church often had a powerfully profound effect on me - to the extent that I sometimes had mystical experiences (but not out-of-body) during his sermons (the 9th house is also a religious house).  Travel is another 9th house matter and the following July, while Jupiter was still in my 9th, I embarked on one of the biggest trips of my life - across country alone to the Southwest to meet and talk with other astrologers.  The Jupiter return in my chart also meant that this was a time of opening for me, giving me a more expansive and hopefully more enlightened mindset.  Transiting Mars on December 4, 1982 acted as an activator of the Jupiter return, since it formed a sextile to my Jupiter.  Both transiting Mercury and Venus were square my Sun that day, which served as a mild jolt to my consciousness and identity.  Transiting Neptune and Pluto were forming what is called an "eye" with my Jupiter, focusing the transpersonal, super-consciousness of these planets on one of my spiritual planets.

One of the most significant transits of December 4, 1982 was Uranus exactly square my Mars - a strong jolt in terms of my ego and desires.  This transit occurs twice in a typical life and lasts, on and off, for over a year but it is only exact on three days of that period.  It means surprises and shocks, of which I had been dealt two - albeit of very different natures:  jilted by one of the great loves of my life and an out-of-body eye-opener.  During my big trip to the Southwest the following summer, this transit was still in effect and its accident-prone nature manifested - I ran over a dead horse at night and briefly sped down the highway on just the left two wheels of my car - what a frightening thrill!  But that's a story for another time!

*Echo is a monthly newspaper about community, the environment, health, cuisine, and spirituality that is distributed in central Virginia.
Good Timing and Location are Keys to Success

Gary Brand, Traditional Astrologer
Tallahassee, Florida

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