Where are they now? - Darby Costello

Interview with Darby Costello first published in Volume 10 Autumn 2016 of the Sophia Project News.

Where are they now?

Darby Costello. Photo: Koen Van der Moortel

Darby Costello began the Cultural Astronomy and Astrology MA programme in 2004 and graduated in 2006. Born in America, she studied astrology in Boston from 1969-1971 with Isabel Hickey and with Francis Sarkoian and Louis Acker before moving to South Africa, where she worked with tribal healers for many years with a small museum in Johannesburg. In 1983 she came to UK, hoping to find a community of astrologers, which she found in London. Since then, Darby has built a busy astrological practice with an international clientele. She teaches and lectures in Europe, North America and other parts of the world - most recently China and Taiwan. She is a tutor for the Faculty of Astrological Studies and is a visiting teacher for the London School of Astrology in London. She has written several books for the Centre for Psychological Astrology, which was founded in 1984 by Liz Greene and Howard Sasportas, and was head tutor there for many years.

Darby talked to Kathleen White about the impact of the MA on her life and work.

KW: Why did you do the MA?

DC: I had known Lindsey Radermacher and Nick Campion for years, and knew that someone had given a founding grant for something that was going on at Bath Spa University; it sounded like fun. Nick invited me to a conference to meet Michael York, the then head of the MA, to see if Michael would accept me onto the course. My BA was in psychology, philosophy and theology. So I enrolled, and it was one of the most satisfying times of my entire life. I was in delight and joy the entire time, it was so pleasurable. I loved the lectures, the research, and writing papers. By then I was already lecturing all over the world, so this added thing of studying was such a good idea.

KW: What modules did you find most interesting?

DC: The history module. I was fascinated with other periods and times, and by the time I wrote my dissertation, I had most of the books I needed for it already in my library. My way of getting to know historical periods is to find people whose charts are known in those periods. I was perhaps most afraid of the methodology module, because at university I didn't do so well in that, but in this MA I did really well, because I found a way to do research that was so much fun.

KW: How did the MA affect your attitude to astrology?

DC: I don't know that it affected my attitude but it expanded my horizons. I absolutely loved that. Seeing clients is what I primarily do as an astrologer and for a while I felt as though the development of the academic side of my brain - the 'left brain' side - started getting in the way of my readings for a while. I am more naturally imaginal; the patterns in the chart activate images in my mind and the academic way of accessing knowledge is so different. But I've been doing charts for so long and love it so, and after a while I was able to see where to apply my 'new' thinking skills.

KW: What did your dissertation focus on?

DC: Tracing Venus in literature and poetry from Mesopotamia to the Medieval period. I already had read lots of books on the ancient period but wanted to learn about the medieval period, as well. In writing about Venus, I got a chance to learn more about her ancestry in our history, more about how she was part of our developing awareness of the dance and work of love, a frequent topic in my lectures.

Darby Costello MA
Darby Costello. Photo: Stephen Frank

KW: What doors have opened since doing the MA?

DC: My main love is doing astrological charts, so no change there. The real change is in terms of the lecturing. I had begun speaking about historical cycles before the MA but doing it deepened my knowledge so much and my capacity for research and my confidence too. Sometimes it feels as though I lecture more on historical cycles than anything else, to both astrological and non-astrological audiences.

It gave me a much greater confidence in researching other periods: the methods of how to do it, how to use footnotes, etc. Even in speaking, it informed how I now research and present my work. I research so much, I very rarely lecture on anything without knowing the history and also the history of a similar astrological cycles in the past. For example, when I lecture on Venus I will first show them Venus in Mesopotamia where she was Inanna/Ishtar, and then I come through time, using images, to show how we in the West developed a notion of love in our time based on our historical relationship to Venus.

KW: What books are you reading now?

DC: I have not been reading novels in the last few years, although occasionally I'll read a historical novel. These days I read ancient texts! Having said that I've just read Teilhard de Chardin's The Phenomenon of Man, which I first read in University many, many years ago. I love the work being currently done behind the scenes to reconfigure religious understanding. I'm also reading Iain McGilchrist's The Master and his Emissary.

KW: Do you have any new projects in the pipeline?

DC: I'm collating the 500 pages of notes I still have on the South African sangomas when I was there in the early 1970s. I'd like to complete that in some way, either as a book or as notes to put in a library that holds knowledge for South Africans.

There's also a temptation to take my dissertation and turn it into a book. Parents don't seem to teach their children what I call the dance of love - Venus's realm - so many people don't get the best out of relationships as a result. If I could find, or make the time, it would be a rich experience to write about the history of our images and ideas of navigating relationships that have Eros as a central energy. That might be a delightful project!

KW: Many thanks for taking the time to do this interview, Darby. We wish you all the best with your astrological practice and your writing and lecturing.