Celestial Wisdom: A Conversation with Z Budapest & Diana Paxson

March
2003: As I awoke on the morning of my 39th birthday, the thought I had
inside my head was, "Play today." I knew it was not me speaking but a
directive from the Goddess. I, however, had things to do. I had plans for my
day and had no intention of not carrying them out. I was busy, you see. There
was work at the studio to be done and more information for a new article to be
found, so I got up and began my day.

I
took my usual morning bus across town to the art center where my studio is
located only to arrive and find I’d left my keys locked in the house. Because
it was a day the center itself was closed, there was no hope of waiting around
for it to open and asking for my spare studio key. Realizing that I not only
wouldn’t be able to get into my studio, but that I also wouldn’t be able to get
back into the house until my boyfriend could get away from work, I decided to
have breakfast at a nearby diner and then go to a bookstore near my home and do
some research for an article I was working on.

Once
at the bookstore, I was amazed to discover I had absolutely no writing paper
with me at all, an extremely rare occurrence. Once I’d handled that situation
by purchasing a cheap composition book at a nearby Dollar Store, I sat down to
do some work– and my pen ran out of ink. You’d think I’d gotten the message by
then, but instead I went out to buy a new pen, and fifteen minutes later, I was
interrupted by my boyfriend’s arrival– to take me out for a birthday dinner.
All I could do was laugh and mumble:
Goddess-1, Krishanna- 0.

I
was scheduled to do an e-mail interview for TBP with Z  Budapest and Diana Paxson regarding their new
book,
Celestial
Wisdom for Every Year of Your Life, about which I was very excited. I’d been
able to work with Z on a number of occasions with the magazine and having read
nearly all of Diana Paxson’s work, I was looking forward to having their
undivided attention for a few minutes and reading their replies. And as it
happens, when we returned home that evening, what should be waiting for me in
the mailbox?

As
I opened
Celestial
Wisdom to the year Thirty–Nine and read, I was greeted with this passage:

This year may be too busy for storytelling, but you can make time
for it on your birthday. Invite friends with whom you can truly relax and load
a table with yummy finger-food. Lounge on cushions in a circle and to each
woman pass a goblet or a horn of something delicious. As the horn comes to each
woman in the circle, she has to tell a story, preferably something with humor.
It can be about herself or about you, or about both of you. What’s the funniest
thing that happened to you during the last decade? Laughter is healing
medicine.

Translation
as it applies to my life: Play today, tell a story and laugh. Happy birthday to
me. Thanks, Z and Diana, for a wonderfully rich and different book.

TBP: Celestial Wisdom is
unlike any astrology book currently on bookstore shelves now. What prompted you
to write it and how did you decide to collaborate?

ZB: Most astrology books are
written without a sense of history. People just want their love/money/career
questions quickly looked at. Those are the books for the small picture.
I’ve been interested for many, many years in the generational destiny. This
generation’s destiny is like the famous Zeitgeist, in German translated
as "the Spirit of our times." That is determined by the transpersonal
planets.

DLP: When I was helping Z edit Summoning
the Fates
, I was struck by how apropos the changes described for the first
Saturn Return were to my life. I agreed with Z that it would be interesting to
explore the effects of Saturn and the other planets further, following the life
cycle all the way. We have had such different experiences in our lives,
although we have ended up in a similar place, that it seemed to us that between
us we could cover quite a lot of ground, and we both had large communities to
draw on for insights and information. Z ended up providing most of the
philosophy, and I did a lot of the birthday party ideas and general practical
advice.

TBP: How did you research
and determine the general attributes associated for each decade and year in
women’s lives, and what makes them universally applicable to us all?

ZB: Transpersonal planets
influence the way history flows, favors or disfavors movements of human
desires. For example, we are now in the Plutonian Sagittarius, which can often
mean wars coated by lofty righteous justifications. What I am waiting for is
the medical breakthrough, which is also expected in Sagittarius. So far we only
got the arrow, the pomp and circumstances, the rituals, the excuse to say we
are liberators, it’s all the oil. Stupid. The oil is like Pluto, hidden,
powerful, wealth. It is universal because it’s the big picture in which our
choices take place. They are the big building; we do the windows.

DLP: We worked with astrologer
Margaret Cole for the big picture and drew on the astrology books listed in the
bibliography for additional insights. At Z’s Goddess 3000 conferences, women
work together in Destiny Groups based on age. It is fascinating to hear women
compare notes on their life experiences and turn that into a presentation for
the ritual. Beyond that, we analyzed the responses of the people who wrote to
us about their experiences, and related that to our own memories of different
ages.

TBP: How can Celestial
Wisdom assist or encourage women transitioning through major life events and
passages?

ZB: It has been missing; women
didn’t find anything to tell them about destiny changes. These events are not
personality bound, they occur like the weather. To everybody. Now instead of
freaking out, women will say, Oh yeah, I am on the Hinge between destinies,
better hunker down, have fun, nothing can be moved forward for a while. Or they
say, I am not crazy, it’s the second Saturn return. It’s supposed to be hard,
and it will pass.

DLP: As Z says– it really
helps to know you are not alone. We also wanted to show people that there are
joys as well as difficulties to be found at every age, and to encourage them to
celebrate. There are some other books which look at life passages, but I don’t
know of any others which address the spiritual dimension in quite the same way,
or which offer rituals to honor the transitions we make with each decade of our
lives.

TBP: What makes the aging
process so important and what is its meaning to us as women?

ZB: We have been valued solely
for either our fertility or for giving males erections. Now the world will meet
Crone Power. Millions of women coming to aging and consciousness, all at once,
will know how to use their power and when. Womanbeings are humanity.

DLP: Crones are not what they
used to be. For the first time in history, women can expect to reach their
senior years with reasonable health as well as wisdom. Whether we do so depends
to a great extent on the choices we start making in our 40s and 50s. I’ve
become acutely conscious of the importance of taking care of our bodies through
diet and exercise. It’s not a question of pursuing eternal youth, but of
providing the foundation for becoming an active Wisewoman.

TBP: How was aging regarded
prior to modern times, how does popular culture do a disservice to aging, and
what do you believe can be done about it, if anything?

ZB: Male-dominated culture
will use any excuse to devalue women. Women are everything. Women created all
the civilians and soldiers and all the economy. We decide who will live and who
will die. We spend the money. Upset women, you depress the economy. That’s
what’s happening now. Women don’t like this war. It makes us insecure; we won’t
jumpstart the economy until we see a chance for this oil/power/ bush dynasty to
be changed. I would like women to gain a lot of hope and wisdom from this book.
Listen to the voices of each other on the circle of rebirth. Blesséd be.

DLP: I was interested to learn
that 65 was originally set as the retirement age because the German chancellor
Bismarck, who was setting up a pension plan, was told that most people would be
dead by then. Obviously this is no longer so. It’s up to us to decide how to
spend this second adulthood. Having just finished my Second Saturn Return, I am
really curious about what’s going to happen in the next twenty or thirty years.
I was delighted to have an excuse to talk to older people and to try to get a
preview of what to expect. Organizations such as the AARP are doing a lot to
educate seniors and promote positive images. The more older people continue to
pursue new goals, the more the popular image will change. Eleanor Roosevelt is
a shining example of an older woman who kept finding new and important work to
do.

TBP: Is there anything
special, any particular wisdom or message you would like to impart to a woman
of any age either reading or interested in reading
Celestial Wisdom?

ZB: The most important thing
about life is that it does have a blueprint. We are all wired to dance the
dance of life on the circle of rebirth. Ignoring it, despising our own age is
silly. We still have to take our twists and turns on cue. If we are deeply
tuned into the rest of the universe, we can intuit our own mission. Freaking is
always an option, but only creativity gets us through sadness and bad times.
Life is essentially a miracle, the blue planet is an accident, and living on
Her as women is a mission. Enjoy the short dance; leave with gratitude.

DLP: The future holds many
fascinating opportunities, but you will never again experience this unique
conjunction of personal and world destinies. Each year has its own opportunities,
so don’t waste energy wishing you were older, or younger. Celebrate the age you
are
.

More information about Z Budapest and her work can be found on her website Z Budapest.

More information about Diana Paxson 's work can be found at  the Westria site and at the Hrafnar site where she serves as  Gyðja.

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