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Monthly Q&A Call

We had our first monthly Zoom call on January 26th. If you missed it, no worries – it’s recorded and you can easily access it. For existing students it is available on the Student Resources page and for Members it’s available on the Members Only page. If you want to join in, sign up for a course or become a member.

Our next Zoom call is set for February 22 at 8:00 AM PST – and, by the way, I’ll be getting my second dose of the Pfizer vaccine on the previous afternoon. I had no reaction to my first one, but I hear the second one can be harder. If I’m a little bleary in that call, that’s why. 

In this newsletter, I want to talk about how these calls will evolve as time goes by and also about some of the thinking that has gone into planning how we do them.

No one left behind

Many of these online meetings will take the same form as the first one – they’ll be driven by questions submitted by all of you, both FCEA students and community members. I will take about an hour and try to answer as many of them as I can. Realistically I probably will not be able to get to everything. That means that we will “curate” the questions, selecting the ones that promise to be most helpful to the most people. Going through the submissions in advance takes some time – that means that we need to receive them 36 hours before the call. 

Priority will always go to questions that have the most general relevance. That usually means that the ones which begin with “in my chart” won’t make the cut. Given that the FCEA has just been launched, for a while we will also leave out any questions that are ahead of the current learning curve – at this point, that means that we will not be looking at anything involving transits and progressions or any of our other more advanced topics. As the program matures and students advance, we will welcome more sophisticated material. Right now, we want to be careful that no one is left behind.      

With 75 or 100 people in the Zoom-room, these monthly programs need to be rather structured. Catie and Jeff will moderate, and we will run a fairly tight ship, limiting interruptions and comments. If that many people begin a free-form “chat,” chaos quickly ensues. Again, our aim is to provide the most benefit to the greatest number of people in that hour or so. We need to use the time efficiently, avoiding going down any rabbit holes.

Where the rubber meets the road in astrology is actually looking at charts. The trouble is that there are very few truly simple questions about any chart. Astrologically, everything is connected to everything else and so looking at a single chart on the shared screen could easily take up the entire hour. We’ll probably do exactly that! But not right away. At this point, we think briefer, more generalizable questions do more good for the majority of us. Don’t worry – if you are hungry for more integrated, in-depth chart analysis, there are also plenty of videos of me presenting complete interpretations a little further on in the FCEA curriculum. 

Down the road, we plan to create an index to the archives of these Zoom calls. Students and community members will be able, for example, to look up “house cusps” and go directly to the video recording of me discussing them on January 26. We anticipate this index becoming an increasingly valuable resource over the years as the calls accumulate.

With FCEA students spread over the globe, finding a convenient time for these Zoom events is pretty much an impossibility. What we have settled on is the idea of alternating them monthly between  8:00 AM and 5:00 PM-Pacific Time. That is not a perfect solution, but 8:00 o’clock in the morning at my house is around 4:00 o’clock in the afternoon in London and midnight in Beijing. When the clocks read 5:00 PM here, it is 1:00 in the morning in London and 9:00 AM in Beijing. “Convenient” might not be the first word that comes to mind, but perhaps “workable” does.

Compounding the time zone challenges, we are doing these calls on weekdays rather than weekends. That’s just me taking care of myself. I already have to work on some weekends. Sacrificing another weekend per month would not be a popular choice on the home front. 

Again, I repeat that all of these Zoom calls will be recorded and archived. That means that no one ever has to actually miss one. Since all the questions are submitted in advance, no one even misses the chance to ask questions. Sometimes, when time allows, there will be follow-up questions and comments. People watching later will only miss having a chance to participate in that part. Everything else is equally accessible to them.

One monthly Zoom call does not seem like much “Steve time.” One or two students have expressed frustration that I am not more directly present and available in the program, even though you will see plenty of me on the instructional videos we have recorded. I’d like to address that issue directly here. My response comes in two parts.

First, at a personal level, one of my aims for the FCEA is to create a vehicle for this kind of astrology to continue to grow and to be taught after I am gone, or after my physical and mental capacities are reduced. I am eager to pass the torch onward to Jeff and Catie and to our wonderfully able crew of tutors-in-training. I have no plans to retire, but at age 72, I would like to have more free time to do some exploring of my inner and outer worlds. All of that dictates a smaller role for me in the day-to-day running of the school.

Secondly, as the FCEA moves forward, we plan to host various Craftsperson and Master level activities. I anticipate my interacting with our more advanced students in a much more direct way. Those plans have not jelled specifically yet, but we are committed to them. I really love “live” teaching with a small group, coaching people as they present their own interpretations. Post-Covid, we do anticipate holding some physical gatherings – classes, even conferences. Because of the international reach of the FCEA, I want to be fair to people who live far away, so there will be some online dimensions to these higher-level programs too.

Bottom line, I do anticipate being more actively involved in teaching for those of you who master our more foundational course work. Much of the actual shape of that teaching really depends on something imponderable – the angels’ plans for my physical body as I move deeper into my seventies. (My dad made it to 83 and mom almost to 96, so I’m optimistic.) 

Meanwhile, I look forward to seeing you every month.

Finally, I’d like to add one more point about our monthly Zoom calls. After the formal Q&A discussions, we always have some social time. One of the things I miss most about the old Apprenticeship Programs is the fun of just hanging out with interesting people, laughing and comparing notes. “Zoomland” is a new world of course. I have been happy to discover that it’s warmer and more human than I had feared. As we build the FCEA community, these social times play an important role. Because it is hard for fifty people to have a conversion, Jeff has been exploring Zoom “break out rooms,” where smaller groups can gather, or two people could even have a private conversation if they wanted. It’s something we’re making up as we go along, getting used to, making it human. Please join us for that part of the program as well.