Where are they now? - Wendy Stacey
Interview with Wendy Stacey first published in
Volume 7 December 2015 of the Sophia Project News.
Wendy Stacey (front row second from left) at her graduation
Wendy Stacey was one of the first intake of students into the Cultural Astronomy and Astrology MA programme in 2002, graduating in 2004. Wendy trained as an astrologer in 1987 in her native New Zealand before moving the UK in 1995. Alongside a thriving private practice in astrology, in 2002 she became the chair of the Astrological Association, which involves organising the annual AA conference, and in 2007 the head of the Mayo School of Astrology. In addition, Wendy lectures on sociology and research methods at UK colleges and is currently doing her PhD at Southampton University on how the birth chart describes the birth experience, research she has been involved with for over 25 years.
A decade after graduating, Wendy talked to Kate White about the impact of the MA on her life and work.
KN: Why did you do the MA?
WS: I did the MA for two reasons. First, because I'd been studying and researching the impact of Caesarean section births on the timing of when babies were born, progressively over the decades. The majority of babies born around the globe are now being born during working hours-Monday to Friday, 9am to 5pm-and my research looks at the unintended consequences of that within the birth chart. I was really interested to put this into an academic framework. And second, I felt so privileged and excited to do this MA, to be with the people who were in that first group of students. It was so organic and exciting, it felt like we were going to Hogwarts, it's how we described it at the time. We were all finding our own way. Just the fact that this MA existed was extraordinary. It was quite emotional. I never will forget the opening of the Sophia Centre, and Bernard Eccles saying it's taken us 500 years and we're [cultural astronomy and astrology] back in the academy.
KN: What modules did you find most interesting?
WS: I loved all of them! It was the discussions we had on every subject, they were invigorating and thought provoking, it challenged us. I loved the main compulsory module the most which involved so much discussion - and another one that was quite interesting was Stellar Religions with Professor Michael York, particularly the conversations about aliens. There was never a dull lecture!
KN: How did the MA affect your attitude to astrology?
WS: For me personally it didn't change my attitude at all, but I did feel I had to defend astrological consultancy and wanted to be sure that astrology didn't became solely academic, to become over intellectualised and become just an object of study. I wanted to ensure the riches and treasures associated with astrology, such as its application in the consultancy process, didn't get lost.
KN: What did your dissertation focus on?
WS: It focused on the research I have been doing for over 25 years now: looking at how babies are progressively being born between 9am to 5pm, Monday to Friday, due to the increase in Caesarean sections but also other medical interventions. The results of the dissertation were that, due to an increase in elective Caesarean Section, more babies are being born within these working hours (and less births outside these hours and also less between the lunch hours of 12-2) which has a collective impact on the birth chart. For example, there are increasingly more people being born with the Sun (and Mercury and Venus) in the top part of the chart (i.e., more diurnal birth charts) than if they were born randomly (or spontaneously) which subsequently means there are less people being born with these planets in the bottom part of the chart. To astrologers this means that there is a decreasing amount of the population who could have say, a second or fourth house Sun; or for example, fewer Pisceans who could have Libra rising, or fewer Leos who will have Aries rising.
KN: What doors have opened since doing the MA?
WS: My research has opened some doors in terms of expanding the study, particularly in regards to intervened births, and has enabled me to work on much larger datasets. The PhD has opened doors that have allowed me to continue this research, which is a lifetime project for me, and in this regard I pay thanks to Nick, Patrick and Pat Harris from the RGCSA (Research Group into the Critical Study of Astrology). The research is sociological with a health and medical lean-it's medical anthropology, really. It has also opened the door for me to look at generational sociology, that is looking at populations that make a mark in time (such as the Uranus-Pluto conjunction generation who were born during the Pluto in Leo years and who contributed to spearheading the change in medicalisation and childbirth methods). In terms of work/employment, nothing has changed and I continue to do the work I have done for the past twenty years (except for more teaching).
KN: What books are you reading now?
WS: A lot of good novels, as a relief to reading so many sociology textbooks. At the moment it's The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-time by Mark Haddon.
KN: Any new projects in the pipeline?
WS: I really now want to continue my research, I want to start looking at birth in a much larger context, and applying astrology to that. How does the birth chart describe the birth experience, particularly in relation to emergency Caesarean sections?
Many thanks for taking the time to do this interview Wendy. We wish you all the best with your continuing research and business.
Wendy with her graduation group
All Photos: Selina Alidina
At the party afterwards with her husband