Mission, Principles, Commitments
The Portland School of Astrology is an educational and community-based organization that strives to create a culture of learning that includes liberation and empathy at its center.
This means we strive to empower learners to examine astrology through the lenses of race, class, body, age, gender, sexuality, ability, etc. while discovering one’s unique strengths and challenges within the natal chart.
What is liberation?
Each individual is seen and validated for who they are, through the tool of astrology. By teaching astrological symbolism and planetary configurations in the natal chart, we encourage personal manifestation in its most beautiful, appropriate, authentic form.
The school also works to provide a platform for people of color, trans, nonbinary, queer, and people with health conditions and impairments to teach and collaborate at PSA.
What is empathy?
We stretch our individual identities to connect with other individuals and the broader community in order to see from different points of view. We accept that making mistakes is a part of learning empathy. By being honest and empathetic, we can creatively challenge one another’s perspectives while holding space for our own.
In interpreting natal charts for individuals, the school encourages developing practitioners to apply empathy, as if to say, “I see you through your chart. Allow me to support you.”
We encourage students to co-create the classroom environment with our knowledgeable instructors. Instructors strive to recognize and adapt to multiple methods of learning.
The Portland School of Astrology wants to guide students to discover power-from-within, to be engaged in learning within a community environment among experienced instructors. We understand that conflicts will emerge and will seek to address them through our foundation of empathy and liberation. If something needs to be addressed, please raise the issue during class whenever possible.
OUR GUIDING PRINCIPLES
Astrology for Everyone: Throughout history, astrology has been either exclusively used by the wealthy classes and elite, or it’s been underground and disdained by the larger society. Many of our resources for learning have been through sexist, homophobic, classist, and racist sources. At PSA, we have studied the ancient and modern manifestations of this sacred art and science. We have practiced the tools in sessions with clients for decades. We have seen the damage done by some astrologers who cling to old paradigms. And we have witnessed the liberating influence this language can have on our lives. We seek to blend the old with the new in surprising ways, and to be a part of the revolution creating a new astrology for our times.
We seek to empower student with the language of astrology so that you can work with your own chart and read the signs around you. Astrology can be a tool of liberation and empathy used by everyone, not just a select few. At PSA, students learn from people who have knowledge and experience in the field, and who are committed to applying a social justice lens to instruction and interpretation. The movement grows as you learn a solid foundation of astrological knowledge on which to build your own ideas, hypotheses, and applications.
Multiple Methods of Learning: We recognize that not everyone learns the same way. That’s why we incorporate multiple styles of teaching and integrating information. These include but are not limited to: readings, lectures, group discussion, meditation, visualization, movement, theater, applied techniques, practicums, drawing and color theory, dyad and triad sharing, group chart synthesis, storytelling, sensual experiences of the archetypes (taste, touch, smell, hearing, sight), embodied practices and exercises, artwork, creative writing, personal expression, and at-home quizzes, community involvement, and student case studies.
Some of these modalities will be comforting, while others will push you out of your comfort zones. Please come ready to engage, knowing that it is a risk to be in a group learning environment. You will be challenged, but you will be enlivened and inspired by these challenges.
Community-Based Learning: Students who come to the Portland School of Astrology are adult learners. They bring their own life experience to the classes we offer, and this enhances the environment in which we all learn. As adults, students maintain the power in how far they go in their studies. Instructors supply well-tested techniques, offer different methodological frameworks for astrological exploration, and present their experience-based take on astrological consulting. It is up to the students to put in their own time and effort to discover how they might use these tools. Many opportunities to do this are presented in class, but individual students maintain their own authority on just how deep they go in their pursuits.
We track attendance in order to make sure students are meeting the criteria to receive a certificate of completion for our year-long programs. We understand that attendance does not necessarily equal competence; students may be making up for missed class time on their own. Students should know that instructors understand that sometimes circumstances force an absence. Everyone strives to come to every class, everyone understands that this is not always possible.
Conflict Resolution: When conflicts arise, whether between students or between faculty and students, PSA operates fluidly and yet deliberately to deal with the conflict. We encourage students who are having conflicts with fellow students to attempt to deal with the issue on their own. If a conflict is affecting students’ participation in programs and classes, it may require outside intervention. At this point, faculty may attempt to mediate or ask for outside mediation.
Many conflicts can be dealt with in class, when they come up. If a student has an issue with what an instructor has presented or said in class, we hope they feel welcome to speak up. If a student doesn’t feel able to bring it up in the moment for any reason, that student should contact an instructor after class to address the issue or make plans to visit during office hours.
PSA is working to strengthen our commitment to nonviolence, anti-oppression, and compassion when dealing with conflicts, various experiences, and difficult topics.
A word about our social justice commitment: We are not perfect, but seek to move forward in understanding how oppression and privilege play into what and how we teach at PSA. The instructors have learned so much from our students and continue to seek ways of working with astrology that reduce harm and encourage liberation and empathy. At PSA, to work with a social justice commitment means:
That we are doing work to understand our own biases, privileges and lenses
That we will focus on addressing harm when harm is caused
That we are open and willing to address conflict when it arises
That we continue to learn how to make astrology a liberating and loving space for everyone
If you join us at PSA, we encourage you to commit to these same principles in action.
A word about cultural appropriation: We would like to say that we do present mythology from other cultures and traditions beyond the Hellenistic Greek in order to provide multiple frameworks for understanding the planetary archetypes. Mythology is taught primarily by Rhea Wolf, who is of European descent. When presenting this information, it is with the intention to provide inspiration for astrology students who are people of color to find symbols that spring from their own cultural history, while alerting astrology students who have white privilege to the numerous perspectives on mythology beyond the Eurocentric model. Mythology is taught from a creative and academic standpoint, and Rhea makes no claims to be an authority from religions and traditions outside of her own experience. Students are also encouraged to consider their own cultural history when exploring astrology and to show respect toward the various cultural histories brought by each student and teacher.
Creative Commons Culture: What we teach at PSA is given to students in the spirit of the Creative Commons, which means that we ask students to build on what you learn while giving attribution to teachers when possible and necessary. Ideas are not anyone’s property, yet teachers strive to give credit to their teachers to recognize that we are a part of an ongoing lineage.
Ongoing Commitments for Striving for Inclusionary Models in Our Education and Community
PSA has a formal Leadership Team comprised of Rhea Wolf, JP Hawthorne and two yearly revolving positions of Student Body Representative. These current students represent both Alumni and current students in all aspects of PSA student life.
PSA has an Advisory Board to hold the school true to its mission and guiding principles in all facets of the school. STILL IN DEVELOPMENT
PSA engages in ongoing business coaching from LGBTQAI+ counselors, keeping PSA to our mission and commitments while mentoring the school on building a sustainable economic and community model for the future.
Ongoing Professional Development
The PSA Leadership Team and teachers coded as “Full Time” will be required to participate in three quarterly professional development activities. Once a year, we take a workshop with Resolution NW in topics of anti-oppression, which will include trainings in Conflict Management, Equity Informed Conflict Resolution, Artful Facilitation, Institutional Equity, Interrupting Racism, Restorative Justice, and more. The other two quarters might include less expensive trainings with Resolutions NW, online classes, book/discussion groups, workbooks, lectures or other materials.
Typically, PSA hosts speakers in our Programs, Quarterly Term Schedule, or Annual Conference who are not coded as “Full Time” teachers, meaning they may teach 1-2 times a year, or may be an astrologer passing through town who does a single class at PSA. PSA Leadership Team will act as ‘gentle gatekeepers’, meaning that appropriate resources, communication of PSA mission, guiding principles, commitments, classroom guidelines, and process for approaching conflict will be given to each speaker prior to their class.
Mid-Year and End-of-Year student evaluations are given as an opportunity to offer feedback about the school, education and instructors.
Student Involvement, Development, and Support
PSA appoints a student liaison for all Year-Long Programs, who act as an additional set of eyes and ears for bringing concerns to PSA Leadership.
PSA invests in an online student portal to increase program satisfaction and encourage completion.
To continue to foster development of Alumni and enrich the longevity of our organization, PSA has added student teacher residencies for our 1st-Year Program. An Alumni network (and/or membership) will be established in the future. STILL IN DEVELOPMENT
PSA has added a Community Involvement component to the existing 2nd-Year Program curriculum to foster greater connections between PSA and outside groups and individuals. 2nd-Year Students also have an additional 40 hours of extracurricular community hours.
PSA has doubled the amount of training hours from 100 to 200 in the existing 1st-Year Program curriculum to foster greater connections between PSA and outside groups and individuals.
PSA provides free student labs for deeper exploration and group processing on topics outside of class time (similar to the caucuses we had built-in as part of our annual conference on Queer Astrology). PSA will also provide a resource list of counselors if needed, to encourage the continuation of personal work.
With varying levels of success, PSA works on finding appropriate accommodations for those in the deaf community who wish to learn astrology and attend our events and programs.
The PSA Student Handbooks outlines our mission, principles, commitments, classroom guidelines, process of working through conflict and a list of free or low-cost therapist in the area. All of these items are also discussed at the beginning of all programs.
Student Year-Long Program Group Guidelines
We agree to give one another and the material our full attention.
We agree to be honest with ourselves about our experiences.
We agree to maintain confidentiality, which means we don’t share ANY personal stories with others when we leave this group. Share what you learn, not what you hear.
We leave judgmental thought and speech outside the door. This does not mean we live our ability to critically engage, think, challenge ourselves, or discern. Rather, it means that we are striving for a place that is welcoming of risk-taking, mistakes, wild ideas, and wrong turns. This is the way we want to learn astrology at PSA.
Recording of lectures is permissible, but individuals can ask at any time for recording devices to be turned off before speaking. We will not record any of our processing work. JayP and Rhea are gatekeepers to this.
We agree to let people have their own experiences. We don’t have to take care of them.
We agree to arrive and start on time. Teachers will wait no more than 10 minutes after agreed upon start time to begin. If you are later than that, come in quietly and please know that we understand.
Please turn your phones to silent or off.
No sign-bashing! Each sign has a shadow side and a shiny side, positive and negative tendencies.
If you miss a class, you are expected to connect with another student to get handouts, etc. from them or from the student log-in on the website.
We strive to acknowledge and respect different learning styles and different ways of processing information. We will be patient with ourselves and others as we learn and take risks together.
Move up and move back. If you generally talk a lot in groups, move back a bit to make room for quieter voices. If you generally don’t talk a lot in groups, move up a bit so that all of us can benefit from your ideas. Go-arounds are one technique we will use to make sure everyone’s voice and point of view is heard.
No artificial scents please. Because we are working together in a close, cozy space, we each have a responsibility to be mindful of our hygiene habits while avoiding scents that could be harmful to fellow classmates with sensitivities. Be sure to attend to your body appropriately before class.
SELF-CARE. Take care of your bathroom needs, food needs, watering needs, movement needs, temperature needs, etc. during class. Sometimes a need can't wait for a break. Take care of yourself while creating a minimum disturbance to others.
We strive to be mindful of the varied cultures and the plurality of backgrounds of our fellow classmates. We are also mindful of the intention with which we discuss cultures or traditions that we are not a part of. We will make mistakes and be open to feedback and addressing any intentional or unintentional harm.