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Interview with Alan Oken

by Edie Weinstein-Moser

With an impressive list of credentials, which include 15 books, such as: An Astrological Guide to Living in the Age of Aquarius, As Above, So Below, Alan Oken’s Complete Astrology, Soul-Centered Astrology, Pocket Guide to Astrology, Pocket Guide to Numerology, and Pocket Guide to Tarot, many of which were printed in other languages, astrologer Alan Oken is a man of many talents. He offers his presentations world wide in English, French, Italian, Spanish and Portuguese. Although Lisbon, Portugal is where he hangs his hat, it seems that the entire planet is his home. Alan is a respected speaker who has lectured at Oxford and Cambridge Universities, as well as The Astrological Society of Sweden (Gothen-burg and Malmo) and The Astrological Society of Russia (St. Petersburg and Moscow) In the 1960’s while in graduate school at NYU, Alan taught French and Spanish. During this period, he also translated popular American musical lyrics into various languages, as well as translating a childrens’ encyclopedia from Italian into English. He also wrote English sub-titles for several foreign films. This multi-faceted explorer of things profoundly metaphysical is also charming, down to earth and genuine. I was introduced to the man and his work through friends who have found him to be extremely accurate and on-target with his guidance. He seems to take none of this for granted and lives with a deep sense of appreciation for having been guided to share his gifts.

Wisdom: Do you view astrology as an art or science or a blending of the two?

Alan: I think it’s both art and science. It is a science in so far as it is based on a certain degree of empiric history which includes 5000 years of recorded astronomical/astrological observation. We have to see that astrology did not become astronomy until the late 17th century. Up until that point, all star observations were connected with astrological interpretations. The two of them didn’t converge until The Age of Reason in Europe. To me it’s an esoteric science, because astrology is a key to human evolution. In the true astrology, you come into contact with a certain level of consciousness which expresses an intuitive perception. It allows us to see the archetype of reality within the human forms of life. Astrology gives a system of structured archetypes. We emphasize philosophical science and yet, it’s an art in the way it’s practiced. The astrologer is the artist. Astrology itself is a science.

Wisdom: How do you, as a professional astrologer, move it away from the ‘cosmic foo-foo’ impression that some people have of the field?

Alan: I don’t. I just do my job. I am given an opportunity such as this one to speak about ‘foo-foo astrology’. Of course, there is also foo-foo medicine, acupuncture and religion. As a rule, I keep my energy focused on teaching real astrology, rather than convince people of the validity of it. I assume that people who contact me, already know that.

Wisdom: How do our sun signs influence our nature? Is it a determining factor or a road map?

Alan: A sun sign is your creative engine. Everybody has an aspect of creative energy in them. At the very least, it’s the way our ego is in our day to day concept of life. We all have the sun as our mother and father. The sun is our primary principle. Without the sun, there is no life energy on Earth. Then we have 12 different roads it takes in terms of astrological alignment. When we look at Sun in Aries, we see a very fiery projective, creative energy. When we see it in Taurus, we see it as magnetic, tenacious energy field. When we see it in Gemini, we see a multiplistic, mental energy flow. If we look at sun signs alone, we get a bare indication of what an individual is like.

Wisdom: The other contributing factors are the houses and nodes?

Alan: They’re all part of it. We have what we call the astrological alphabet. Amongst astrologers, we have some degree of ‘astro-speak’. I speak a lot of languages. I live in Lisbon, Portugal and when I am reading horoscopes for my Portuguese clients who know astrology, I say that "You can speak two languages; Portuguese and Astrology." It is a definite language with a vocabulary. There are the signs, the houses and the planets, and as you mentioned, the nodes. There are other pieces to the puzzle like the geometric aspects. It takes a person at least a year of intensive study, and years of graduate study, just to learn how to handle the vocabulary and put it into phrases and then into sentences. That in itself is quite an exercise.

Wisdom: What was the path that led you to this study?

Alan: Since I was a child, I knew there was a Divine Presence in life. I just felt that. Ever since I could remember, I knew there was something more than the ice cream cone in my hand. There was a meaning behind things. From a very young age, I was seeking what that meaning was. I could remember being a child in New York and going to all the different churches, synagogues and temples, just to see what was going on in them. From the age of 7 or so, there was a sense of "Oh, there’s something happening here and I’d like to know what this is." When I was a young man in the ‘60’s, I became part of the wave of New Age spirituality that began and then exploded in the late ‘60’s and early ‘70’s. I was riding that wave and it just spoke to my nature. I began a study of yoga and meditation when I was 19 years old in 1963. On October 24, 1967, around 10:00 at night, I was meditating and in the meditation, I received a vision of a Tibetan monk. He said to me "Become an astrologer. That will lead you to your path." At the time, astrology was far from a professional interest and I knew nothing other than sun signs. It came as quite a surprise, but the message was very strong, so the next day, I went out and bought a whole bunch of teach-yourself-how-to-do astrology books and I locked myself in my room and started studying this stuff. After about 4 months, in 1967 when we didn’t have laptops, I was working out logarithm tables and longitude and latitude and had a little suitcase of books. My friends asked me to do their charts, so I would take out the little suitcase and when I was living in New York, would run around on subways and visit their homes and read their charts. I didn’t have all this information in my head. Within a relatively short period of time I was reading charts professionally. To tell you the truth, I was more of a psychic at the time, than an astrologer. I didn’t know how long this would take to really become an astrologer. I would say that it took me about 7 years of constant practice. I had the astrological language, but not the astrological wisdom. That took some time to acquire. After about 7 years, I felt I could really call myself an astrologer. That’s how it happened.

Wisdom: Where do you see yourself going with this? Are you just going with the flow?

Alan: I am going with the flow. I lived that in the ‘60’s. I learned that the flow was conscious. It wasn’t drug-induced. It was the flow of a conscious stream of creative energy which assists in true intuitive perception. I stayed with that and now I teach in the largest astrology school in the Western world.

Wisdom: What drew you to Portugal?

Alan: I was in London in 1994 in an elevator in the underground and was taking it to the street level, because I was giving a lecture at some hall. In the elevator were two Portuguese women. I had already learned Portuguese and I thought "These women are coming to my lecture." Sure enough, they were there and during a break, I went over and spoke to them in Portuguese. They had come from Lisbon to attend this weekend workshop I was giving. One of the ladies was the director of the school where I teach now, called Quiron Metaphysical Center. She said "Why don’t you come to Lisbon and teach for us?" Six months later, I showed up at the door and started teaching and that started a relationship with Portugal that has gone on to this day. That was the Spring of 1995. In 1997, I moved here and stayed for a year and a half and then moved back to Santa Fe, New Mexico . In early 2006, I was here and I didn’t want to leave. I felt I really belonged here. The head of the school asked, "Alan, why don’t you just stay?" I went back, sold my house and moved here in the latter part of 2006.

Wisdom: I know an astrologer who says he consults the stars and then makes his own choices. What’s your take on that idea?

Alan: I could be very philosophical and say: "What is the self that makes the choice?" Is there a separated self? No, there is only an illusion of the separated self. We are all One. We all live within that Being, that great entity that some people call God. I prefer to call it Divinity, because when you say ‘God’, you may think of an old man on a throne with a beard, casting spears and throwing lightning bolts. We all live within that great intelligence. As far as I say, I look at my horoscope every day and I do make choices about my activities. Are those predestined choices? Is this the mind that is thinking? On the level of the ego ‘I’ make choices and have responsibility for them. On the level of Higher Intelligence, I’m not sure choice is there.

Wisdom: I think about the people in my life that I didn’t know a year ago or 10 years ago, or even yesterday and I wonder how much of that is predestined and how much happenstance.

Alan: I don’t think there is anything called ‘happenstance’. I think there is an energetic affinity and like attracts like. Even the ‘likes’ that you don’t like, you still attract. There is a part of your nature that is attracting the opposite all the time, as well as what we are connected to. You, as a Libra, are certainly familiar with that.

Wisdom: I know that even the things I have attracted that I wouldn’t have consciously embraced, have been some of my greatest teachers, so I think that no experience is ever wasted.

Alan: That’s life. That’s the way it works. The measure of our consciousness is how universal we are. At the same time, in that universality, we don’t lose our sense of self. The more inclusive we are, the more conscious. When we look at certain political or theological doctrine as exclusive and ‘my God is better than your God’, ‘my country is better than your country’, these people are not particularly conscious.

Wisdom: One thing that fascinated me from your website was the concept of ‘the dweller on the threshold’. My only familiarity with that phrase was from the Van Morrison song. Can you elaborate on it?

Alan: It is the force that we confront, every time we take a step forward on our path. For every action, there is an equal and opposite reaction. It is the law of gravity and the law of karma. The dweller on the threshold is the reflection of the shadow self to light. Our job is not to be fighting the shadow. Most people live in the world of active polarization and active duality. They suppress the shadow or fight the shadow. We need to embrace the shadow into the light. That triangularization is a key to the concept of consciousness. It’s not just to accept it, but to get to know it and it changes. A very wise friend of mine who is a member of the faculty at the school, said "You know, if 2 million people have the tendency to learn their shadow then our job is to know what we’re up against. If you can bring definition into that shadow world, then they’ll have the equipment to transcend it.

Wisdom: Is it like dancing with the shadow?

Alan: Absolutely. It’s only safe to dance with the shadow when an aspect of yourself is not involved. In the absence of yourself, it is objectified to the degree that you watch the dance. If you are in the dance without watching the dance, you’re going to get your toes stepped on. It becomes important that even if your toes are being stepped on, you are watching, so in the next dance, you may not get your toes stepped on.

Wisdom: It’s about being the dancer and the witness at the same time.

Alan: Exactly. Most of us are just the dancer and the shadow we are dancing with. To become the witness, mmmm, that takes a bit of training.

Wisdom: What books and teachers have been pivotal for you?

Alan: Right off the bat all the books of the Tibetan Master...Djwal Khul and all the Alice Bailey material. The early Theosophical writer; Madame Blavatsky, Charles Leadbeater, Annie Besant. In terms of astrology, there is Mark Edmund Jones, and the book The Theory of Celestial Influence by Rodney Collin; that just blew my mind and then there’s Maggie Kerr from Australia who contributed a lot with her knowledge. I have a list of peers who have written extensively about astrology. I am fortunate that I came into astrology with a whole pod of brothers and sisters, all of us in the same age group.

Wisdom: From looking at your photo, you seem ageless.

Alan: I’ve been fortunate to have had good health. I’m not a pollyana optimist, but I tend not to get depressed or have anxiety. I am concerned about life. I know this might sound so hokey, but I tend to love God and that keeps a smile on my face.

Wisdom: I sense that you see God in all things and in all people. It’s not a God outside of us.

Alan: I see that in life and in transcendence and unity. I love my profession, even after all these years. It gives me a sense of purpose.

Alan can be reached via his website www.alanoken.com

Edie Weinstein-Moser is a journalist, workshop facilitator, interfaith minister and creative guide. Her website is www.liveinjoy.org   

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