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 seek to empower students 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.
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.
PSA is working to strengthen our commitment to nonviolence, anti-oppression, and compassion when dealing with conflicts, various experiences, and difficult topics.
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.
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.
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,
Some of these modalities will be comforting, while others will push you out of your comfort zone. 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.
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.
- 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.
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 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.
- PSA has a formal Leadership Team comprised of Rhea Wolf, JP Hawthorne and two yearly revolving positions of Student Body Representative. These current program students represent both Alumni and other 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.
- 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.
- PSA engages in ongoing coaching from an Equitable Systems Change Strategist with Alyshia Alohalani Macaysa to best identify areas of improvement related specifically to our mission, principles and goals.
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 training 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, reading/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.
Ongoing Professional Development
- 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.
- 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. Cost for translation is paid with available funds through our in-house Jen Gouvea Memorial Scholarship.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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 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.