Star Survey: Jo Gleason
Want to learn a little more about the astrologers who teach you so much about yourself?
Welcome to Star Survey, a quick introduction to our favorite stargazers and cosmic authorities in our larger community.
What is your sun, moon, and rising?
One thing I try to normalize is the idea that some folks aren’t comfortable sharing their SMR upon first meetings, and it’s not something I ask people myself; I wait until when/if they offer it willingly! I think it’s important to cultivate awareness around consent when inquiring about someone’s chart details, including SMR. It is also so important to get to know people as human beings first without an astrological lens.
How and when did you get into astrology? When did you start studying it formally?
Astrology was a Bad Thing in my upbringing, which was very sheltered and shaped by a strict Christian family. By the time I was 18, I had shaken off some of the fear surrounding such Bad Things, and my friends and I would read our horoscopes in between rehearsals on particularly bad days at the ballet company. It wasn’t until a hard break with religion when I was 20, and a subsequent delving into all things New Thought spirituality, that I really got into astrology beyond horoscopes. In 2014, I committed to dedicated study after my first real reading with Robert Hand. From there, I attended Kepler college and earned several certificates before moving on to study Hellenistic astrology with Chris Brennan and planetary magic with Austin Coppock.
What defines your approach to astrology — is there a particular lens or context you use?
The Hellenistic tradition is absolutely my foundation. I thrive with concrete fundamental systems, and traditional astrology, in general, provides that for me. That said, part of the reason I love traditional astrology so much is that the elegance and symmetry of the system provide a foundation for elaboration, nuance, and teasing out the symbols into poetic and lyrical stories. Storytelling and personifying the planets is a huge part of the way I practice astrology and connect the literal, sometimes even fatalistic offerings of the Hellenistic tradition to our lived and felt experiences as humans in a modern world.
What other astrologer(s) do you most admire?
There are so many! One of my very earliest and most lasting influences is Austin Coppock, who shows by example that one of the greatest ways to do your best work is to leave behind the notion that you must do things A Certain Way. Austin’s relationship with the core symbols of astrology and the ancient tradition become lyrical tools in his writing, conveying crystal clarity of the astrological meaning, and inspiring an imaginal relationship with the planets. His writing was the first I read that made me think to myself, “The way I feel reading this astrologer is the way I want people to feel when they read my writing in the future.”
What’s your favorite or most influential book or writer?
Anyone who knows me knows that I am a massive Tolkien nerd. J.R.R. Tolkien’s work, in the Hobbit, Lord of the Rings, and Silmarillion have been a huge inspiration and haven for me since my teens. Additionally, Ursula K. Le Guin’s work has been very impactful in my life. Both the Lord of the Rings and the Earthsea Cycle have become yearly reads for me, almost as a devotional care practice. Both these authors also remind me of a fact that should be obvious, which is that life does not end after your twenties. I am inspired to keep my mind and potentials open for the entirety of my time here, ready and waiting for the spirit to deliver to me the Work I’m meant to bring into the world, whenever it arrives.
What placements in your chart have been the most impactful in your life/practice?
It’s hard to encounter me or my work without immediately sensing Virgo energy! I have a Mercury/Venus conjunction in Virgo, both in phasis, conjunct the lot of Fortune (with Mars in Virgo several degrees ahead). These planets describe my love of detail-oriented, conceptually elegant systems, and I believe also harken back to my love of my classical ballet training in my entire youth, which influences the way I approach any discipline, including astrology. Additionally, my Cancer moon in the 12th house plays an important role in how I relate to the dark houses (6th, 8th, 12th) in astrology, and how I approach them in my consultations, which has become a major theme in my client work.
How do you think people can best use astrology in their day-to-day lives?
For me, astrology is all about coming into a deeper understanding of and relationship with ourselves and introducing as much choice and agency as possible. Getting to know one’s natal chart, as well as increasing mindful awareness of one’s placements in action, can offer deeper recognition of one’s own patterning and predispositions and increased understanding of one’s needs, reactions, and motivations. This understanding creates an opportunity for more choice and agency in getting one’s needs met, creating safety and integrity, and even accomplishing one’s goals.
What’s one thing an astrology newbie should learn about?
Traditional forms of astrology, particularly traditional sign rulers! Even if someone doesn’t choose to stick with traditional forms of astrology (which is totally fine), understanding the roots and origin of the astrological tradition not only offers a solid educational foundation but an awareness of and connection to the tradition’s lineage. Astrology was not invented in the past couple hundred years, and understand its history is so valuable and important.
Are there any planets you have strong relationships with or feel particularly drawn to?
Mercury! Everything under their purview is something I’m passionate about: precision, detail orientation, systems, components, words, writing, language, liminal spaces, translation, traveling between worlds, delivering a message, art as communication — the list goes on!
Is there something specific you look for when analyzing compatibility charts?
I don’t actually analyze compatibility charts at the moment! I prefer to dig deeply into the natal chart to inquire about relational issues, using the 7th house and its ruler, the 1st house and its ruler, Venus, and the moon.
Are there any activities that you personally avoid during Mercury retrogrades?
The main thing is making sure I don’t move digital files around when there’s a risk of them somehow getting deleted. Other than that, I don’t let it get in the way of daily life, and just try to really cover my bases and not take any shortcuts. I’m a big fan of letting the astrology elect me, so I often lean into the chaos (within reason!)
Is there a transit you really look forward to (or dread?)
I really love transits through fire signs, very generally speaking! Pisces transits are tough for me, but I’m learning to soften into them instead of dread them as much as I used to.
Are there any interesting practices or hobbies that you’ve picked up during quarantine?
I have mostly doubled down on practices that I had already in place before quarantine began: I start my day with 24 ounces of water with fresh lemon, then 32 ounces of freshly juiced celery. I eat a plant-based diet, so most of my quarantine projects have been figuring out a way to store mountains of citrus and fresh melons in my kitchen!