Quite possibly the most quintessential photo of an astrological dinner party ever taken!
Astrology Restored: a unique and adventurous conference!
“Astrology Restored: Bridging Epochs and Traditions” was the name of the conference held in Cape Town South Africa from 6-11th November 2015. Set in Shamballah Tea House, a beautiful farm across from the Cape Point Nature Reserve, the conference was 100% adventure.
Astrology Restored was organised by Ana Carrapichano and Richard Fidler with advice and assistance from Michelle Gould and Nancy Massing, Rod Suskin and many other brilliant Cape Town astrologers. The perfect team to bring a dream to life.
The story behind the conference is an interesting one. The intention to organise a conference was solemnly set during the exact hour of the lunar phase on 4 April 2015. It is fascinating to watch how a dream unfolds and then manifests into something that so richly enhances the lives of others.
This was an astrology conference that would take us to the top of Table Mountain, sailing in the ocean, drumming around a bonfire, eating some truly spectacular food at a variety of locations and gazing at an unpolluted sky. Oh, and several close encounters with some local wildlife.
Astrology Restored was a conference so packed with memories that I didn’t want to spoil them by using words. But three years later and with plans for 2020 in the making, it’s time to share this magical conference with people who may be on the fence as to whether or not to make the journey to Cape Town.
Safe in the hands of Captain Rob
Cobras, baboons, penguins and ostriches were just a few species of local wildlife (it’s a good thing I didn’t know about baboon spiders!). Almost exclusively outside, not only was Astrology Restored an adventure, it was a completely unique conference featuring several local South African astrologers such as Rod Suskin and Nicola Smuts as well as few familiar Western names such as Rob Hand, Kenneth Miller, Michelle Gould, Nick Dagan Best, Samuel Reynolds, Komilla Sutton and a few others. Michelle, Naomi Bennett, Ehsan Khazeni and Richard Alwin Fidler (one of the coordinators) were friends I had met in India earlier in the year.
At Cape Point with Rob Hand, Ehsan Khazeni, Ana Carrapichano and Elyse Karin
The film version of the conference speakers can be found here and the full program here.
The program promised a rich mix of history and traditions. Medieval and Jyotish techniques as well as more modern astrological approaches were on offer. If numbers mattered, this might be labelled a “small, intimate “conference. If numbers don’t matter then it was a conference that could only be described as “life changing”.
It certainly had a deep and profound impact on me.
For this reason, Astrology Restored in Cape Town gets my award for “Most Adventurous” astrology conference.
Ehsan, Alex and friends on Boulder Beach
Astrology Restored: Cape Town
Cape Town takes a bit of effort to get to. And of course, I didn’t make things easy for myself.
In October ’15, I had flown into New York for the SOTA Conference, then after visiting with my folks, flew west for an event with Astrology University then to California to visit a friend. From California, I flew back to London and changed planes to Istanbul. I had an unexpected, overnight layover in Istanbul. I didn’t know whether to be happy for an unscheduled day in Istanbul or gutted to lose a day in Cape Town. The time difference between California and Cape Town was 9 hours. I was well disoriented when I arrived in South Africa.
Beautiful Kalk Bay, a fishing village in a suburb of Cape Town where we had an unforgettable meal at Cape to Cuba
I am a little embarrassed to admit that, as someone who once taught Geography, I was completely unprepared for the adventure that was Astrology Restored. Accustomed to staying in hotels in the middle of big cities or resorts for astrology conferences, I was totally blown away by the rugged scenery of Cape Town. As my now good friend (and IVC speaker) Nancy Massing explained when she collected me from the airport and drove to the venue, Cape Town has the Atlantic Ocean on one side and the Indian Ocean on the other. Between these two bodies of water, up in the mountains, was where Shamballah Tea House was located.
Ehsan can be a little noisy! He’s demonstrating his newly discovered “hornoscope”.
It was the most beautiful place of natural beauty I had ever seen. I saw no shopping malls, fast food outlets or car dealerships (although they do exist in abundance in
the “town” of Cape Town). But we did stop to buy some absolutely beautiful South African wine to share once we arrived. Let me say this: I may be no wine connoisseur but I never had a bad glass of wine in Cape Town!
Ehsan and I would be staying in a house with a jaw-dropping view of the ocean. We were told we might see whales and other sea creatures from our front window.
A Hindu priest performs a Navagraha (nine planet) puja.
We were warned about how to deal with baboons.
The Opening Ceremony
Jet lag meant I was up way earlier than everyone else. So I had no problem getting myself ready for the 5:35 am opening ceremony.
The Navagraha puja, performed by a Hindu priest, commenced at a time carefully elected by Richard Fidler. The chart featured the Sun and ascendant close to the fixed star Acrux.
Rob Hand asked me to sign my book for him.
Acrux is the principal star of the Southern Cross Constellation which can only be viewed in the southern hemisphere. Vivian Robson, author of The Fixed Stars and Constellations in Astrology (1923) indicated that it gives “religious beneficence, ceremonial justice, magic and mystery”, and that it is frequently prominent in the
horoscopes of astrologers and occultists (source: Deborah Houlding’s Skyscript). I can think of no better way to describe the magic of Astrology Restored. And isn’t it wonderfully “coincidental” that Acrux was conjunct the Moon of the principal star of the conference, Rob Hand?
Check out what Rob had to say about Astrology Restored.
Shamballah Tea House
One of the rooms at Shamballah Tea House
Shamballah is owned and loved by Ana Carrapichano and maintained by her and her wonderful team. To accommodate the speakers and guests for lectures, tents were set up . There was even a “nap” tent for jet lagged speakers (I’m happy to say I wasn’t the only one who took advantage of this!). Far away from sources of light pollution, this was one astrology conference where star gazing was a main feature.
The varied program was on two or three tracks with ample opportunity to hear Rob Hand. The onsite catering was provided by a local supplier. The food was vegetarian with plenty of variety and absolutely, deliciously out of this world. Nothing like mass produced food in hotels (which I dislike). I couldn’t believe what was coming out of a small catering truck, including utterly charming cakes and drinks.
All of us grew closer as a starry family in Cape Town
The evening program was lively and yet deeply profound: there were drumming opportunities, there was singing around the campfire and beautiful performances by local artists.
The Great Outdoors
Being outdoors for nearly a full week gave us all the chance to be who we really were. Many of us became such good friends that we adopted each other as celestial siblings. In the three years since our adoption at Shamballah, we siblings have crossed paths again on various continents and we always talk about the magic of Astrology Restored.
There’s NOTHING like getting Ehsan back early in the morning!
I’ll also remember my time in Cape Town for the wonderful opportunity to begin to study Vedic astrology with Ehsan and Richard. I consider it most fortuitous that I read one of Dennis Harness’ books during this time and have been fortunate enough to spend time with him in the US and India (and I’ll also be speaking at his conference in Sedona in late 2018).
Baboons roam wild in the countryside of Cape Town. We developed quite a morbid curiosity about them after being advised to keep the windows of the house closed when we were not there. These clever animals could work their way into a house given the smallest opportunity. I was told they were not afraid of women and would calmly ransack the fridge whilst the lady of the house shouts and screams.
An Alpha Male baboon: big fella with big teeth. There were also mothers and babies nearby
Baboons roamed very near to Shamballah and could be seen in the distance watching us and probably hoping someone would leave food out. As protected animals, their movements were tracked by baboon monitors (Cape Town also has whale and shark monitors).
I didn’t know very much about baboons except I wasn’t too keen on seeing one up close. The babies were cute but the adults I had seen from a car had very big teeth that they weren’t adverse to showing off. I didn’t like the idea that they could distinguish a female human from a male either. That’s just being way too clever for an animal.
Music at Shamballah
One of the most memorable moments of the conference was the “baboon incident”. Someone had left a window open “just a crack” to keep fresh ocean air circulating. Whilst we were at the conference, apparently a few baboons got the munchies for pizza and raided one of the guest houses. One marauder left a little “gift” too.
A few weeks after the conference I was lecturing at Shamballah for the Cape Astrology Association. All of a sudden, Richard and Ana jumped up and ran out of the room. “What did I say?” I had wondered at the time. I carried on speaking and eventually, they both returned, out of breath.
“What was that all about?” I asked them afterwards.
Quite possibly the most quintessential photo of an astrological dinner party ever taken!
Apparently, baboons came very close to Shamballah and one even entered the building. Richard jumped up to close the adjacent door and Ana had run outside to fetch her dog.
Now that’s what I call a bit of monkey business.
On some nights, speakers travelled as a group to sample local restaurants. This gave us a chance to appreciate the breathtaking beauty of a drive along the rugged coastline. We also enjoyed a phenomenal pizza party at the home of Nancy, who lived in Kalk Bay with a view of the ocean. It’s hard to decide on a favourite moment but eating dinner with Rob Hand, Nick Dagan Best and Ehsan Knazeni in a beautiful at Cape To Cube definitely ranks near the top. Cape to Cuba is my favourite restaurant in the whole world and post conference, I spent many evenings there writing and reading Tarot cards.
Me, Nick and Michelle at the top of Table Mountain! (Ana is eclipsed by Nick but she’d soon set that straight!)
On another day, we travelled to the top of Table Mountain. In a cable car. Not a fan of heights, I nearly passed on the opportunity. Fortunately the legendary winds of Cape Town were quiet that day and “encouraged” by Nick Dagan Best, I went to the top and back down again and lived to tell the tale. It was an experience I’ll never forget (neither will Samuel because I nearly broke his hand when he offered to hold mine in the cable car).
Scared of heights (and spiders) I may be but I’m definitely not afraid of the ocean. Another of our excursions was a sailing adventure. By this time, the conference had ended and I had waved good bye to my return flight to London.
Michelle and Ana, seasoned sailors
Richard had prescribed a little something to enhance the experience of the trip. It certainly did. But it wasn’t enough to prevent the three Librans from getting sick and abandoning ship at the nearest port.
Post conference, we shared a house maintained by Richard called “Culpeper’s” (now called “Jupiter Rising”). It had a huge garden and for dinner, Richard would simply head out and pick some
Richard in his garden at Culpeper’s
vegetables and then cook us dinner. Seeing Richard in his element was amazing. He was like a South African Crocodile Dundee (without the crocodiles): he spoke so passionately about the garden and what a pleasure it was to eat such incredibly fresh food. His knowledge was truly impressive and I can honestly say I have never seen a happier man than Richard in his garden.
In the evenings, we would cause all sorts of merry mischief. I remember an awful lot of laughing, an incident involving “someone” pretending to cut off “someone’s” arm (an optical illusion!) and generally being happy to be with such great company. Oh and it was the first time I saw a stick insect!
Other excursions included lunch deep in South African wine country, breakfast at Kirstenbosch Gardens as well as a walk on Boomslang (a tree canopy walkway) and a visit to Cape Point where the Atlantic and Indian Ocean currents (allegedly) meet.
Uninvited dinner guest (hamming it up with Michelle).
With such adventures, I highly recommend Astrology Restored. Yes, it is a long journey to a remote place but it is an experience you’ll never forget! Surrounded by friendly people, brilliant astrology (and stargazing!), a rustic yet surprisingly glamorous setting, you’ll have wonderful tales to tell all your friends to make them deeply jealous!
And as the conference isn’t until the end of 2020, you have plenty of time to make arrangements.
Many, many thanks to Richard, Ana, Michelle and the good people of Cape Town for building the dream.
Alex Trenoweth, MA, DFAstrolS is an astrologer, teacher and author of "Growing Pains", "The Wolf You Feed" and the soon-to-be-released "Mirror Mirror" by The Wessex Astrologer. She travels across the globe lecturing on the topic of Astrology and Education. In 2015, she was voted "Best International Astrologer" for her innovative research on astrology and adolescence. Her work has been published in major astrological magazines around the world such as Dell Horoscope, the International Society of Astrological Research, the Organization for Professional Astrologers and she is co-editor of "Constellation News", one of the largest astrological magazines on the planet.