Astrological Detective: Unraveling Mysteries
When I sat down with astrologer, queer, momma, and musician Andrea Gehrz, I was concerned that the loud and frenzied atmosphere of the bar would be distracting. I needn’t have worried. From the moment I sat down Gerhz engaged with me on a personal level that few interview subjects have. I blame myself for bringing my chart. – Alley Hector
Gerhz became an astrologer over 10 years ago, after her girlfriend at the time got sick of her talking about nothing but her garden and gave her a book on astrology. Since then she went to Portland State University to learn Ancient Greek and has piqued the interest of classicists and classical astrologers alike with her accessible translations of two important texts. She also has a new book on the way, A Wonderbook of True Astrological Case Files, co-written with Judith Hill, that should soon be available now through Moira Press (MoiraPress.org). Appearances to promote the book are also in the works.
She offers personalized, hand-drawn charts and readings for individuals, couples and children as well as tutoring. In her radio show, the Astrological Detective, Gerhz aims to teach listeners about astrology itself as well as how to investigate their own charts, influences, and tendencies in a way that makes their lives healthier and more understandable without getting locked into thinking that events are fated. It also aims to be funny and entertaining for the non-astrologer because her investigations are, first and foremost, about people, how we relate to others, and the world around us.
The multi-talented Gerhz also has other side projects and interests including ASL interpreting, which she says helped a lot in learning and translating Ancient Greek. The self-described “thrasher” has also played music in various metal, math rock, and hard rock bands including Discharge Information System and TraumaDom.
Hunched over a plain piece of paper filled with inscrutable symbols shouldn’t feel exposing, but Gerhz was instantly in my head in a way that made me feel incredibly vulnerable. I answered detailed questions about how I view my sexuality and she returned with an untangling of how I see queerness in a personal vs political framework. With a speech energy that bordered on auctioneer, she proceeded to tell me unabashedly all about myself, herself, and even the Mountain Goats’ John Darnell, with
Just Out: The way you describe your astrological work almost sounds like therapy.
Andrea Gerhz: Someone quoted to me that Karl Jung had said four hours with a chart is worth 19 sessions on the couch. Because it’s almost like a map of the psyche, you don’t have to spend 19 sessions getting to the bottom of something.
JO: You come from a family that values science. Did you come to astrology with skepticism?
AG: Absolutely. My dad has calculations all over his chalkboards because he’s a professor. In my office, there are charts and numbers everywhere. I calculate things very specifically.
JO: What prompted you to begin the translation of the ancient Greek texts?
AG: A number of classicists gathered up all these astrological texts from ancient times. The classicists think that the astrology is silly and not real but they want the philosophical and religious information. Because of my background in sign language interpreting, I know what it takes to render something from one language into another.
JO: Do you think there’s a certain kind of chart that lends itself to being an astrologer?
AG: Absolutely. Charts that are energetically sensitive, but also cerebral, love astrology. I have a Pisces moon so I’m very emotional, effuse, and sensitive so if someone’s hurting I can feel it. But because of that sensitivity, I need some way to manage all that energy. Every astrologer is going to look at it through their own lens. Make sure you’re finding an astrologer who has the same value system as you.
JO: Is your chart more how you approach things in general, or does it speak to how you might feel politically?
AG: The chart is a map of where your soul will be urged on in this lifetime. The houses in the chart, which are the little pie pieces, they show the area in which the energy will be expressed. The planet is the energy. The sign is the clothing it wears. The house is where it comes up. Let’s take the humanitarian moon, for example. That can come out in the house of creativity. Maybe they make political cartoons. For someone who has Aquarius in the sixth house, which rules your job, they might work in political organizations.
JO: Tell me about your upcoming book.
AG: I have two books coming out. I feel like I’m about to birth twins. One is a translation. The other is A Wonder Book of True Astrological Case Files. I’m writing this with another Portland astrologer, Judith Hill, who has been doing charts for 40 years now and has written six books. These are stories about our actual experiences in being astrologers. One story that Judith has is about being on the bus and she and her bus driver are chatting. All of a sudden he says ‘Your moon must be in 15th Sagittarius’ and it is.
JO: So was this path fated for you? How do you feel about fate?
AG: This has been my biggest struggle with the ancient text versus my own. In ancient times, they were very fate-based. The idea was you get to know your chart and accept it gracefully.
People are afraid to go to an astrologer because they’re afraid the astrologer is going to tell them something bad in the future. It can be so uncannily accurate that it seems fated. I adopt a philosophy of radical astral freedom. Astrology tells you what your nature is. Then we want to work with that and nurture it the best we can. The fate in astrology should never be used to predict the future, but to see patterns we get locked into. The only reason to accept that is so that you can work with it.
JO: So what’s in store for Portland or the world in the near future?
AG: There’s a death and rebirth of large institutional structure. People will get more accustomed to the unknown and trying to build within the chaos.
JO: What can astrology do for the modern queer? What does sexuality have to do with it?
AG: I do a lecture called The Astrology of Being Queer. I listen to these old fogies at astrology conferences who talk about queer people and I just think “You have no idea.” People say “Mars in Leo means you’re queer.” It’s not just about that.
Mars in the chart shows your testosterone. A lot of dykes have masculine-looking energies. For a lot of queers it’s an identity struggle. “Who am I really? I’m f*****g a girl now, but I don’t really identify as gay. I identify as a happy bisexual.” The sun sign can play a big part in it.
When I looked into Leslie Feinberg’s chart, she has a sun in Virgo. Virgo is all about exactness. Leslie Feinberg is really discerning in identity. When I looked in his chart, Saturn, which is the planet of struggle and oppression and being blocked. Over and over, the identity will be challenged and he or she will have to figure out the intricacies of “Who am I? Am I a man or a woman?”
But then Rupaul had the sun in Uranus. She’s saying “I’ll be whoever I want to be.” That queer person’s experience in life is very opening and revolutionary.
A lot of trans guys have intense Mars energy but then you’ll get a death and rebirth energy in the soul. There’s a planet for that: Pluto. A lot of them get Pluto that comes up to their Mars.
JO: The farther-out planets are a little more generational than personal, right? Is our generation about rebirth?
AG: Yes, rebirth of relationships. So many of our peers are not monogamous, not committed. Pluto-Libra is all about one-on-one exchange, we are reborn over and over. There’s something called a composite chart. If we mix energies, are we going to become better people or bring each other down? I always wonder why there isn’t an internet dating site where you’re matched up based on charts.
About Alley Hector
Alley Hector is proud to be a Q, a PDXer and Just Out's Editor-in-Chief.