©7-12-11 by Donna and Readers
No more than 5 minutes after my request for questions for the interview was posted, they started coming in. Here are a few with short, easy answers that won’t make the longer interview.
Jenny B: Who do you turn to when you need YOUR chart interpreted?
Donna: It depends. If I need a yes or no answer on a major life decision, I turn to a horary question and consult my longtime colleague and friend, Diana Stone, a very seasoned astrologer with decades of study of the older horary texts.
I trust her totally and will do whatever she says, because she’s guided me through many difficult passages. For more information on horary from Diana and some of her cases, see Horary Astrology.
For personal counsel, with just enough astrology thrown in, I turn to Eileen McCabe of New York City, an impeccable practitioner with a Master’s Degree in Social Work like myself and about 30 years of astrological practice.
Patrice: In past postings you have mentioned some of your mentors…can you whittle down your list and call out your top favorites.
I am eternally grateful that I was in the right place (NYC) at the right time (late 1960s) to study with the late, great Richard Idemon for two intensive years. His psychological approach was just right for me, coming from my freshly-minted Master’s Degree in Social Work. He was not yet a Jungian. (See two of his book excerpts here: Missing Elements and How They Affect Your Relationships and here: Understanding Mercury-Moon Aspects.)
A beloved friend and mentor also practicing in NYC at that time was Rod Chase, a big old bear of a guy from South Carolina. He was terribly droll and had a meandering but productive way of exploring the zodiac and observing astrology at work that rubbed off on me. I never took a class from Rod, though I never missed a lecture/performance, but we spoke almost daily on the phone. It was he who encouraged my writing enthusiastically and made connections with the editors of the many astrology magazines then in print.
Jenny: What’s the most useful thing another astrologer made you aware of that you had not been able to see in your own in your chart?
Donna: In my very earliest days in astrology, before I’d done much healing, I had a consult with Richard Idemon, and something he said to me that made a huge, lasting impact was, “With Pluto conjunct the Ascendant, you have the capacity to totally transform your physical body.”
Mimi: Do you have cats??
Donna: I had a gift for picking very smart, fiesty but terrible black cats that bit. Docile animals don’t seem to appeal to me.
One I had at the peak of my practice years in NYC would jump up on the desk when the consult had gone on too long, plop her ample rump down on the chart, and glare menacingly at the client until they got the picture and left. I’m sure she enhanced my witchy image no end.
My last cat was so terrible that I decided I was done with them for good!
Mimi, part 2: I like the eerie stuff. Have you ever foretold something that was really amazing, like someone winning the lottery or having triplets or??
Donna: I have no recollection of this, but I am told the story that I made a weird forecast of a tragic murder. I was back home in Iowa on a visit, and my friends there had bought a bar in a tiny farm town out in the boonies nearby. They prevailed upon me to be the evening’s entertainment and to give mini-readings to their customers. (I NEVER saw so many farmers with Taurus moons in my life!)
I am told that after one reading, I came away disturbed and whispered to my friend, “I hope that woman’s daughter doesn’t wind up killing her.” I can’t imagine saying that nor do I know why I did—some 5th house malefic under transit, no doubt.
Years later, on another visit, in the midst of an evening when they were swapping their innumerable Donna stories, I was informed that the woman’s daughter did, in fact, kill her some time later.
Fellow writer, EJ Runyon asks, “The fiction writing you did – the mysteries on e-book (loved them!). Was that accomplished under a certain transit? And did you wait for it, or did it ‘push’ you to write?
Donna: At the time I was writing the three mysteries (1994-5), the ephemeris was the last thing on my mind. I was anxiously scanning lab results to see if the cancer was coming back. I’d had a hysterectomy to take out a tumor, that thankfully hadn’t spread far enough to require chemo or radiation. I was growing giant kombuchu mushrooms and drinking the pungent tea every day.
The cancer was an indication that something was dreadfully wrong on my life path, so I asked myself what change I could make that would make it all worthwhile. The answer was, “Write mystery novels.” So I did, and have never enjoyed writing more in my life. (You can download one of them free here: hotlinetoheaven07hotlinetoheaven07hotlinetoheaven07.)
However, looking back, the main transit for “cancer + mystery novels” was exactly what you might imagine—Pluto! A very sensitive point in my chart is 27-29° of a fixed sign, which is the midpoint of my Sun/Moon/Midheaven square, and is also semisquare and sesquiquadrate that trio. Pluto in Scorpio was back and forth over that point for a couple of harrowing years in 1994-6.
Natalie: Is there anything in particular that makes you smile when you look at someone’s chart?
Donna: A nice, juicy stellium, so we can explore the talents it promises. Or when someone is asking me about the timing for something they’d like to try—the fulfillment of a dream or finally going for it—and the answer from the transits is yes, yes, YES!!! Oh, and I really, really loved doing writer’s charts and tracking good transits for writing and publishing.
Paula: Is there a natal Moon sign you would prefer not to ever experience and why?
Donna: Oh, God, I hate these kinds of questions! The thing is that every—and I mean EVERY—astrologer has the signs and placements they love to hate. We have the responsibility not to offer our own biases as the gospel truth about that sign or placement, just because we personally have a problem with it. That being said, Moon in Scorpio, either natally or by transit, is mine. Nuttin’ personal, Scorpio Moons. Feel free to get even by hating my Aries Moon in return.
Tina: Way behind the eight ball here. Donna where is your chart posted? I would bet a Gemini.
Donna: AstroDataBank posted it without my permission from Lois Rodden’s private collection, but here it is: Cunningham, Donna. The one thing you can’t tell is that Chiron at 14 Leo is also conjunct my Ascendant-Mars-Pluto conjunction.
The picture there on their website is NOT me, not by about 30 years, but I haven’t told them that—a wee bit of revenge.
However in the interests of full disclosure, just for today, here at the right is a real one, taken a few years ago when I was featured in my alumni magazine at Grinnell College. That way you’ll recognize me when we meet at UAC.
For a summary of my background, see About Me.
Parts 2 &3 of the interview coming.
Pertinent bits from My Memoirs:
- Outtake from a Moon-Pluto Life
- How to Survive a Pisces Dad—and How I Survived Mine
- Crises of Faith–Journeys to Jupiter’s Red Spot
- Cancerians, Memory and Emotion
- Fitting onto a Blank
- Venus-Uranus Aspects: Two-Minute Friends and other Modern Relationships