Sophia Project  
University of Wales Trinity Saint David


List of speakers include:

Ada Blair

An exploration of the role that the night sky plays in the lives of the Dark Sky island community of Sark

This research, conducted on Sark in 2014, addresses the 'missing sky' factor within ecopsychology and health and environmental psychology. Intuitive inquiry is employed to explore the following themes: human desire to see the night sky, commercialisation of this desire through astronomical tourism, the nature of nature, fear of the dark, and nature and wellbeing. Research findings show skywatching facilitating family/community connections and improving wellbeing, the transmission of sky stories, childhood sky memories, fearlessness of the dark and the phenomenon on moonless nights of an absent horizon, whereby sky and land appear as one.

Faye Cossar

Using Qualitative Narrative Research to compare Organisational Development Models in companies

Faye's research paper covered the 'why' of astrological research and claimed that one reason for research is to learn more about astrological techniques. Her dissertation applied the Huber Age Clock technique to companies and asked: is it a viable organisational development model? Using interviews and written sources, she used this narrative based research to develop an astrologically based Company Clock model.

Darby Costello

Venus: Goddess of Love, Beauty and Loss: Where is she now?

From earliest times in our cultural history the planet Venus was associated with goddesses of Love. From the Mesopotamian Inanna and Ishtar, to the classical Greek Aphrodite to the Roman Venus, she has always been about love and beauty, pain and loss. In the late medieval period she was the deity of Courtly Love and we can see her later in the 19th and early 20th century Romantic poets and artists. But where is she now? Where do we see her reflected in our digital and virtual world? Where do we see her power? We shall look for her here.

Kim Farnell

Simon Forman and MS Sloane 99

Simon Forman wrote multiple versions of his astrological manual - none of which saw their way into print. I have recently published a modernised and annotated version of MS Sloane 99 held in the British Library which primarily addresses Forman's approach to medical astrology. It also indicates his sources and influences and shows that - in spite of a reputation of being an incompetent quack - Forman was a highly skilled astrologer who based his practice on his own experience.

Morag Feeney-Beaton

The Thread of Life: an investigation of spinning and weaving as arbiters of fate and destiny

Spinning and weaving have had a longstanding symbolic association with fate and destiny. Evidence for this is apparent within the Greek classical tradition, as can be found running through Plato's Myth of Er, and is richly threaded throughout folklore, where spinners with supernatural powers serve as catalyst for strange happenings outside the laws of time.

This talk will examine how this metaphorical connotation may have originated, discussing the underlying theory, and making reference to Christopher Tilley's notion of 'artefacts as metaphor'. It will show how, rather than the result of a simple abstract allegorical connection, both spinning and weaving's symbolic association with destiny is, in their different ways, intrinsically derived from the actual process of the production of cloth.

Notions such as the creation of order out of chaos, the transformation from amorphous fleece into the umbilical line, and the highly tensioned warp and weft being seen as the balance between necessity and freedom of choice, are deeply embedded in the practical procedures involved in practising the crafts.

The talk will conclude by discussing the resilience of the metaphor, taking into account its survival into daily usage within contemporary society, and assessing to what extent their symbolic association can be regarded as a manifestation of a Jungian collective unconscious.

Stevi Gaydon

Alan Leo, Modernist

Alan Leo was a self- declared modernist. However, his ambition to integrate theosophy with astrology seems to be at odds with modernism. In this talk I will argue that Leo's astrological reforms, focused as they were on personal development and self-realisation, were modern and that parallels can be drawn between Leo's work and that of his modernist contemporaries, Henrik Ibsen and Wassily Kandinsky.

Jonathan Jones

The Cosmos and our fortunes - a study of financial cosmology

The thrust of my recent dissertation was a study of the relationship between cosmic forces and the financial world. Starting in ancient times I traced the links between astrology and financial investment and speculation, focussing heavily on the substantial literature of the twentieth century and culminating in practitioners of the present day.
Building on this base I am widening my studies and research to the historic links between economic activity and cosmic influence throughout the world.

This work has focussed my mind on three key points
1. The roots of astrology lie in prediction
2. The practice of financial and economic astrology remains relevant in all times and places despite the varying fortunes of other forms of astrology
3. As astrology is used it changes and adapts to deal with fresh information and challenges

Wendy Stacey

Effects of Changes of Birth Times

The time and day of birth around the world have changed radically over recent decades. Wendy will explore the consequences of these changes for astrologers and will also look at the astrological connections as to when and why this phenomenon might have occurred.

Jenn Zahrt

On Astrology as a Soft Science in Weimar Germany

This talk will discuss how astrologers during the Weimar Republic in Germany (1919-1933) sought to legitimize their field in terms of soft science. Technical, popular, and academic literature will be compared to show that regardless of one's particular status in the community, the attempt to justify astrology as a soft science ran throughout astrological publications. Possible reasons for this angle of justification will also be explored.

This historical case study will provide a framework to understand current efforts to legitimize the study of astrology in various forms (historically, anthropologically, and even directly as a practical craft). By looking backwards, we may strengthen our command of current debates taking place about astrology's legitimacy in society.