Interview With Astrologer Leisa Schaim
AYA Guest Blog
Austin Coppock
June 16, 2015


Leisa Schaim is a professional astrologer based out of Denver, Colorado. Her recent article on the ancient concept of sect, and its role in interpreting the Saturn return, was featured in last year’s premier issue of The Ascendant – AYA’s official journal. In this interview, Leisa speaks with AYA VP Nick Civitello on her experiences with Saturn as a tempering force, and how it shaped her role as an astrologer.

NC: Saturn’s on the rising here in New York as I type this, so let’s start there. Saturn returns have become a specialty topic of yours in the last few years. What drew you to this topic in particular?

LS: Well, I became interested in the Saturn return very early in my process of learning astrology. I had started to notice how pivotal that period of time was in so many people’s lives – that things that ended up defining their adult lives for decades afterwards would often have either their beginning or a defining turning point then. I’d always been sort of fascinated by the very different paths that people’s lives take, even before I was introduced to astrology, so this seemed like a major puzzle piece of how that happens.

At the same time, I’d also seen more than a few instances of tragedy or inordinate difficulty befalling people around this time. And as someone with a rather melancholic temperament, this had been a longtime preoccupation of mine more generally, that whole ‘why do bad things happen to good people’ question. So I guess that made me initially keep thinking about and watching the Saturn return phenomenon, to see if it could help me understand anything more about that question.

NC: And yet, cross-culturally, it doesn’t seem like there is any sort of adulthood ritual that centers around this time of life. In honesty, I hadn’t observed this make-or-break threshold period before I began studying astrology. What do you think it is about this time of life that is so crucial, and why do you think it’s not prominently recognized outside of our community?

LS: There have begun to be some pop culture references, especially the ’27 Club’ and so forth (musicians who died at age 27), and some references to the ‘quarter-life crisis’ (seems to be referring to either mid-20s or late 20s, depending on the author). But you’re right, it doesn’t seem to be a prominently recognized marker outside of astrology. I think this is partially due to it having such different specific manifestations in different people’s lives depending on their specific chart placements. Also, in terms of adulthood rituals, they traditionally would have been held so much sooner than the end of one’s 20s. So I think that another part of why it doesn’t have a recognized, fixed meaning in the larger culture has to do with longevity increasing so much over the last century or so; the late 20s occupies quite a different space than it used to, in which it’s almost acceptable to still be figuring out your place in the world, rather than having to be settled into that for a decade or longer already. So you’ll see Saturnian effects happening either way, but ones that seem to interact some with the cultural space of that age. Also, remembering back to my undergrad social sciences days, it was considered notable to even talk about adult developmental stages at all, and the models that did look at that included large age ranges together, like Erik Erikson’s young adult stage spanning 18-40 – they were really concerned with broader strokes of adult life stages than the Saturn return would be describing.

NC: As we’ve discussed, you’re well-known for working with Kronos. In fact, you co-write a blog named “Saturn Return Stories.” I don’t know your chart well. Is Saturn prominently placed? Do you consider yourself Saturnine in character?

LS: Saturn is near the top of my chart, so yes, somewhat prominently placed. It’s not the only planet that I’d consider prominent, but one of them. My primary temperament is melancholic, which is considered the Saturnine one. I’d say more life experiences than character, but that definitely becomes a bit circular.

NC: How did you come to astrology?

LS: I was always someone who wondered about the big picture of life, the ‘why’ behind everything. So I had done some searching, including living in Buddhist meditation centers towards the end of my college years. Around the same time, I found my first astrology book that went beyond sun signs and was temporarily very excited, but then put it aside.

Perhaps appropriately for the continuing Saturn theme, I returned to astrology through suffering. At one point in my early twenties I had gotten suddenly very ill, and I stayed that way for quite a while. Eventually I got a lot better, though not completely, and I thought it was behind me. But then a few years later I had a relapse, and consequently had a lot of free time alone. Browsing the internet, I came upon sites that featured full astrological charts, and I curiously started looking at my own to see if it could answer why I was going through hell. It seemed to match up with my experience, and so I kept learning from there.

NC: And what keeps you involved?

LS: I’d say what keeps me involved is that astrology continues to match up so well with life, and I find that fascinating. It’s remarkable that there are these maps of how we experience our lives, ourselves, and other people, that can show both the arcs of decades as well as the quality of a brief part of a day. In addition, I’ve had the experience of occasionally learning a new technique that gives new insight into the structure of how life and time actually operate, and I find that so fulfilling and kind of mind-blowing. I’ve always been a person who is both spiritually interested but also skeptical/wanting proof for things, and astrology is positioned so well at that exact overlap between the two.

NC: Out of curiosity, what was that first astrology book that went beyond Sun signs?

LS: That first astrology book was one that some astrologers like to laugh about, The Only Astrology Book You’ll Ever Need – because of course, it’s hardly the only one you’ll need. But it does introduce a lot if you’ve only known about sun signs before that.

NC: I’ve only thumbed through that one, but I’ve heard other astrologers cite it as a great beginner text. Any other influences that you’d like to give some love to?

LS: Early on, I read pretty widely amongst the common modern astrology books and websites – Steven Forrest, Stephen Arroyo, Rob Hand, many others. I later studied Hellenistic astrology with Chris Brennan, which initially gave me quite the paradigm crisis, because the fact that those principles and techniques worked as well as they did led to immediate philosophical implications that changed my entire orientation to astrology. However, I now find that learning invaluable for accurately understanding concrete areas of a person’s life, as well as providing some eerily specific timing techniques; I currently focus more on that side of things in consultations, though I appreciate knowing psychological approaches as well to bring in when relevant.

NC: What do you think the astrology world needs now?

LS: In my dream world, there would be colleges offering financial aid where one could learn astrology, much like Kepler College was trying to do before with earning accreditation. That is pretty near impossible right now given the status of astrology in the larger culture, but I say that because otherwise the path to comprehensively learning astrology well can be extremely piecemeal and take longer than it needs to. Of course there are some schools, but then you need the money to attend, which not everyone has.

NC: Any advice that you could offer to young astrologers and aspirants?

LS: There are two main pieces of advice I would offer to younger people interested in astrology.

The first is to meet other astrologers. You can learn so much more quickly when not in a vacuum, and it helps more quickly filter out the non-essential or questionable things out there. The internet is great resource of free information, but the quality completely spans the spectrum, and on your own you can waste a lot of time sorting through it all. So I’d say go to conferences and join dedicated astrology forums, and then you can continue those conversations when you’re back home.

The second would be to always test what you read against real life. Astrology, at its best, puts our lives into a greater meaningful perspective and offers insights we might not have realized on our own. But the flip side of that is that spiritual/metaphysical theories can be put forth that may or may not line up with reality. So it’s an important discernment process to try on what you’re reading and see if it does line up or not with your life and those of others you know well, and what you know non-astrologically of the wider world.

NC: Thanks very much for talking with us, Leisa.

leisaschaimpicLeisa’s website is, where she can be reached regarding consultations. Read more of her writing on Saturn Return Stories –


Read more
April News
Website News
Austin Coppock
April 8, 2015


Greetings, members and supporters!   We have a few items of news to discuss.

membershipMembership Director Search

First, with the recent departure of membership director Maria Wander, we are in need of a Membership director.  We will be taking applications until the New Moon in Aries on April 18th.  If you’re interested, consult the membership director search blog entry and then email us at with a brief description of your relevant experience and qualities.


Planets and Starscinema

Second, there’s a new piece up on the AYA guest blog- Manda Selva’s Roles of Destiny.  In this fun and insightful article, Manda explores the relationship between actors, their charts, and the roles that made them famous. If you’re a member or benefactor of the AYA, we’d love to hear from you about contributing to the blog- please email us at



Those of you looking to enhance to further professionalize  should consider the OPA retreat in California this October.  Not only does it offer a bevy of courses and workshops, our friends at the Organization for Professional Astrologers have been kind enough to offer AYA members a 10% discount to the retreat.  For more information, visit the OPA page.





Read more
Roles of Destiny
AYA Guest Blog
Austin Coppock
April 8, 2015


While I was researching and writing on different astrological aspects, I found some interesting coincidences with actors that played out the essence of an astrological aspect in a movie.  Those that had the same aspect in the natal chart were able to really portray the energy in an effective manner, which makes sense because they understand the flavor of the dynamics and probably have experienced and played out the role in some form or the other.

SuchetThe first person that came to mind in relation to the deep analytical nature of Mercury Pluto aspects was Agatha Christie, the crime novelist.  Her stories were very skillfully designed, as she uses a combination of circumstances, personality and motive to build the profile of the criminal.  But the real success of her stories in the big screen goes to actor David Suchet, who portrays the detective Hercule Poirot.  So it was very interesting to find out that both Agatha Christie and David Suchet had Mercury Trine Pluto and were able to reflect this energy through their writing and acting respectively.  In 1991 David Suchet received the British Academy Television Award (BAFTA) for his role as Hercule Poirot.


CloseGlenn Close, in the movie “Fatal Attraction,” plays the role of Alex Forrest, a neurotic and complex single woman who has an affair with Michael Douglas and eventually tries to kill him. This role reflects the negative manifestation of a Venus Pluto aspect with the jealousy, manipulation, and intense obsessions.  Glenn Close played this role to a hilt and was nominated for best leading actress in 1987 for this movie.  Not surprisingly, she has a Venus Pluto square in her natal chart and hence was able to accurately feel and express the emotions behind this character.  This is not an easy role to play.  From the chilling smile to the menacing looks, she really understood this character, as there was a part of it within her.

loneSaturn Neptune aspects are sometimes about being there but without a sense of belonging, having but not owning, an ego that needs to be surrendered and a reality that eventually disappears.  This energy was wonderfully captured in the Oscar winning movie “Last Emperor” which is the story of “Puyi,” the last emperor of China.  Although he becomes emperor at the age of 2, he has no real power and is protected by the staff from being exposed to the real world outside the walls of his palace.  He has no real knowledge or strength in defending himself or his country and ends up becoming a puppet emperor for the Japanese. When the Japanese lost to Russia, Puyi was imprisoned and forced into a communist reform program for many years.  When he was eventually released, he took up a job as a gardener in a botanical garden.  What an amazing journey in one lifetime! This character was wonderfully played by John Lone who won the Golden Globe award for best actor for this movie and has a Saturn Neptune conjunction with the Sun at the midpoint of the aspect.  Throughout the movie he expresses the subtle discomfort involved in realizing that he has no real power. With Saturn Neptune aspects, real power is found by being of service, and Puyi only finds that when he finally becomes a gardener.  The Emperor Puyi himself had a Saturn Neptune trine and hence was able to flow though this aspect without much resistance.

These instances show that aspects in our natal chart in many ways define the energy we express and what people see in us.  It therefore makes sense that actors are often chosen for roles that are symbolic of a particular aspect in their birth chart, especially in situations where there is a good fit.  Also, when we watch movies, we may be more appreciative of actors that exude energy that is reflective of aspects in our own birth charts.  I admire Agatha Christie and the lead actor, David Suchet, as I share the Mercury Pluto trine with them.  These studies repeatedly confirm that energies seen in our birth chart are archetypal and hence can recognize and connect with similar archetypes all around them.

About Manda Selva

Manda Selva is a professional NCGR certified astrologer who lives and practices in San Francisco Bay Area.  She also has a website and blog, where she can be contacted for chart readings.  In her practice, Manda uses the principles of Psychological Astrology in combination with the Uranian technique of midpoints.

Write For Us!

If you’re a member or benefactor of the AYA, we’d love to hear from you about contributing to the blog- please email us at



Read more
Chinese New Year News
Website News
Austin Coppock
February 18, 2015

Happy Chinese New Year!  We’ve got a few updates for you.


Beginnings and Endings

First, after years of service, Maria Wander is stepping down as the AYA’s Membership Director.  Maria’s energy, intelligence and pure exuberance has seen the AYA through a number of growing pains, and she has been an instrumental part of making the AYA what it is today.  Thank you, Maria!

With Maria’s upcoming departure, the AYA has is short one Membership Director.  We are thus announcing a search for a new Membership Director.  If you are interested in stepping in to fill Maria’s shoes, check out the position description here and shoot us an email. 

While Maria may be soon to leave us, we are happy to announce the arrival of Emily Newhouse, our new Social Media Liaison, who will be taking over our Facebook and Twitter feeds.  Stop by our Facebook page (address) and say hi!

The Ascendant

The clock is winding down to get us your contribution to the second issue of the Ascendant!  The deadline is the last day of February!   You can find the call for submissions here.



Read more
Membership Director Search
Website News
Austin Coppock
February 18, 2015

The AYA is looking for a new Membership Director!


The Membership Director is responsible for writing newsletters, updating and maintaining the membership database, and creating activities for AYA members. The Membership Director is one of the AYA’s key officers, and is expected to participate in all discussions about all major AYA projects.  The position, like all AYA positions, is a strictly volunteer.  Though the amount of time required varies, the position usually occupies between 5-10 hours each month.

If you’re interested, please inquire at

Read more
The Ascendant, Vol. 2- Call For Papers
Website News
Austin Coppock
January 23, 2015


We are pleased to announce that we are now accepting submissions for the second issue of The Ascendant, the official journal of the Association for Young Astrologers

The story of the creation of modern astrology seems to be well known. But what do we really know? 

The second issue of The Ascendant seeks papers that discuss astrologies that have potentially been overlooked in the historical emphasis on Theosophical publishing in the history of modern astrology. We are looking for articles that discuss astrologies and astrologers active during the eighteenth, nineteenth, and twentieth centuries who have not received enough attention and who may not fit neatly into this dominant narrative. 

We are particularly interested in papers that focus on
non-English areas of research in order to better integrate our historical understanding of this aspect of the development of modern astrology.

Possible topics include:
1) looking at the continuity of classical and traditional techniques across the practice of astrology during this time; 2)cross-cultural transmissions; 3) astrological polemics in the non-English speaking world; 4) examining the work of lesser-known female astrologers or the work of familiar modern astrologers in a new light, and more. The cumulative effect of this issue will contribute to a refined understanding of modern astrology and its development.

Papers should be submitted by February 28th, 2015. They should be approximately 6,000 words length and should be submitted to Shorter submissions are welcome.

If you have any questions, please contact us at

Read more
ISAR Roomshare!
Website News
Austin Coppock
August 7, 2014


Many of you have been asking about room shares for ISAR’s conference, Stepping Into the Circle. AYA does have a suite, and we are going to accommodate as many young astrologers as we can.Attending conventions is so enriching, but it can be very expensive and difficult to arrange. We got a crazy deal this time, so we are offering a crazy deal to you:

– For the entire stay, it’s only $50 +1 compulsory shift helping to man the AYA booth. For those that aren’t interested/able to stay the entire con, we can work something out with a slightly lower dollar amount and/or investment of time. The suite is only open to AYA members, so please sign up if you haven’t. 

– BYO Bedding. It seems like we’ll have a couple big beds and a couch to share, but these won’t sleep everyone. 

– For those that aren’t interested in cramming into the suite, we’re also going to be pairing up roommates who can split rooms themselves. 

– If you’re interested, please email with “ISAR Room Share” in the subject line. Vacancies in the suite are on a first come, first served basis. We’re primarily accepting payment through PayPal. Deposits will only be refunded for cancellations made on or before 8/5/13, 11:59 pm EST.
Looking forward to seeing you in Phoenix!
Read more
News 7/23/2014
Website News
Austin Coppock
July 23, 2014


Guest Blog

We’re happy to kick off what is soon to be a bi-weekly guest blog with Ryhan Butler’s excellent piece on Planetary Reception.  The first of a three part series, this installment focuses on how one planet passes on, or “pushes” its significations to another.  His essay is almost certain to deepen your understanding of aspects.

We’re planning on putting a new guest blog up every other week for the next eternity or so, and we’re going to need help.  If you’d like to be a featured blogger, please email us at

Stepping into the Circle: September 25th-28th

Though it’s still more than two months away, ISAR’s big conference in Arizona is coming up fast!  The AYA will be there in force.  We’re working with the friendly folks at ISAR to ensure that the big Friday night party delivers a righteous payload of fun.

We’re also coordinating a roomshare to help AYA members who need to economize on room and board.  We’re due to release the details of the roomshare next week- so stay tuned.

Finally, we plan to unveil the very first issue of Ascendant: The Official Journal of the AYA at the Conference.  Keep an eye out for more details and a sneak peak or two.

More soon!

-The AYA



Read more
The Ascendant: The Official Journal of the Association for Young Astrologers
Website News
Austin Coppock
May 4, 2014


The Association for Young Astrologers (AYA) is now accepting submissions for the first issue of The Ascendant, the official journal of the AYA. Graced by the writing of astrologers emerging on the horizon and buttressed by the prose of culminating veterans, The Ascendant will serve as a means of ingress to both the breadth and depth of the celestial art.

For the first issue, we welcome previously unpublished work around the topic of ‘New Frontiers for Astrology’. These ‘New Frontiers’ need not be future-oriented, though, for the missing pieces of the art’s history can be just as revelatory as its undiscovered future.  The borderlands the first issue of The Ascendant seeks to reconnoitre include, but are not limited to, the reconstruction of previously unknown traditional material, innovations in the application of astrology, novel perspectives on the philosophical implications of the art, and considerations of the new crop of academic studies of astrology.

The Ascendant promises to deliver a curated selection of work that will simultaneously showcase what the younger generations of astrologers are doing and serve as an introduction to the myriad forms of astrological practice and research methods. We are looking for articles that demonstrate the cutting edge of astrological praxis.

Our editorial board will review submissions for originality, timeliness, relevance, and readability. Authors will be notified as soon as possible of the acceptability of their submissions. AYA does not discriminate against authors based on age, race, creed, or gender. AYA is for young astrologers, not of them, and the aim of the journal matches this mission statement.

Papers should be submitted by MAY 31, 2014. They should typically not exceed 8000 words length and should be submitted to Shorter submissions are welcome.

If you have any questions, please contact us at

Read more