Where are they now? - Cat Cox
Interview with Cat Cox first published in
Volume 11 Spring 2017 of the Sophia Project News.
Cat Cox graduated from the Cultural Astronomy and Astrology MA programme in 2007. In the early 1980s she came to London to train in pharmacology and was drawn into the thriving astrological community to study with Sue Tompkins and later with John Frawley. Cat completed the Faculty of Astrological Studies Diploma in 1996, after which she set up her practice and started teaching astrology independently. She joined the Faculty Council in 2008 and was appointed Vice President in 2012 and Head Tutor in 2013. Since December 2015 she has served as Faculty President.
Cat talked to Kate White about the impact of the MA on her life and work.
KW: Why did you do the MA?
CC: Because I was part of the astrological community, I knew about the MA and eventually it 'called'. At the time, I had no functional reason to do it - or to think that it would be useful. It was really a desire for the deeper learning and to be a part of the new and rich community of people who were exploring astrology more philosophically. Also, having the structure to do it felt valuable. I liked the intensity, the depth, the effort to expand, the exploration of new topics. I had these 'tardis' moments, when I opened academic and intellectual doors and found this huge amount to explore.
KW: What modules did you find most interesting?
CC: All of it was brilliant! I found both Stellar Religions - taught by Nick Campion - and Science and Scepticism - taught by Patrick Curry - incredibly interesting. Science and Scepticism was so exciting, it opened up a language to talk about astrology and how it's marginalised in the current philosophical and scientific paradigm. Rather than trying to fight that marginalisation, this module helped me recognise that astrology sits in its own paradigm, not accepted in the mainstream or in the rational framework, where it's denigrated, undermined and dismissed.
KW: How did the MA affect your attitude to astrology?
CC: For a time, as I was studying, I did step away from my practice. It is hard to observe and study and to practice at same time. I came back to it with a richer and deeper understanding of the world, and better able to articulate my thoughts about why astrology should remain marginalized. Those of us who do astrology love its richness and understand it as a way to find meaning. The astrological framework of meaning doesn't require belief; it's experience. I find it a fascinating path to explore and also to be able to guide students along, where they make this shift from the heliocentric scientific rational world we're in and start to become aware of the cyclical relationship of life, of synchronicities - the symbolic framework informs that - and they start to realise it's about participation. At the same time, we still live in the modern scientific world and we can move between these worldviews. The other aspect is, after I graduated, I came back to the Faculty and became very involved in teaching and working with the Faculty. It's important for this way of relating to astrology to move into the teaching of astrology, to bring that experience into the teaching.
KW: What did your dissertation focus on?
CC: Participation, specifically the experience of the astrological consultation as an experience of participation. I took a phenomenological and animistic approach and explored different cosmological models. The title was: 'The Astrologer as Magician or Shaman: How far can contemporary astrological practice be understood within a cosmological paradigm of participation with the divine?'
KW: What doors have opened since doing the MA?
CC: Just as the MA reached its culmination, the Faculty door opened and I started doing more teaching. It's a great privilege to be working with the school, to be able to teach the way we teach, to be able to inspire the next generation of astrologers, plus all the distance learning and the Faculty Summer School.
KW: What books are you reading now?
CC: I've gone back to reading old novels that I love as an act of self-care. Patrick Curry came to Faculty Summer School last summer, we invited him to talk about Tolkien. He inspired me to go back and re-read The Lord of the Rings, which was a delight. I'm now re-reading The Mists of Avalon by Marion Zimmer Bradley.
KW: Any new projects in the pipeline?
CC: I'm looking forward to travelling to China in September 2017, where the Faculty have been invited to do some teaching. There is a deep hunger for western astrology in China. I think they lost touch with some of their own traditions after the Cultural Revolution. Otherwise, I continue with my astrological practice and my teaching at the Faculty, as well as guiding the development of the Faculty as its current president.
KW: Many thanks for taking the time to do this interview, Cat, and for your involvement with the Alumni Association of the MA.
Cat Cox (right) and Laura Andrikopoulos at the Sophia Centre Postgraduate Conference 3 Dec. 2016