A GENTLE AND EMINENTLY PRACTICAL ASTROLOGER

“An Astrological Guide to Self-Awareness” by Donna Cunningham.


A kind and gentle yet eminently practical soul, Donna Cunningham blessed the astrological community for many years as an astrologer, writer, and teacher. With a master’s degree in social work and vast experience helping troubled individuals, she integrated psychology with an incisive use of the language of astrology to help others find their way to a more positive life path. I came to know her work while living in astrological deserts, pre-Internet, when the only kindred spirits I could find were on the printed page. Her Horoscope columns were heartfelt examples of the common sense application of the natal chart planets and transits to address everyday problems. She would mine an elderly and lonely widow’s 11th house to encourage her to seek activities she may enjoy and find new friends. An individual frustrated by a dead end job was pointed toward the potential of the sixth house and opportunities for training and learning new skills which could lead to a better job. A frustrated spouse with a stressed eighth house may be gently told that she and her partner do not share the same values when it comes to finances and would benefit from a frank and open discussion and some compromise if the partnership is to move forward and realize its positive potential. On a more personal level, I found in Donna Cunningham’s book The Moon in your Life helped me understand my lifelong food and weight issues more than had a hundred diet and weight loss books.


When I learned that Donna Cunningham passed away on her 75th birthday, July 5, 2017, I knew a friend was gone. However, I connected with her again when I picked up my dog-eared copy of her 1978 instructive manual An Astrological Guide to Self-Awareness. This guide taught me to read a chart. Through only a little over two hundred pages, she managed to succinctly go to the heart of the meanings of the planets, houses, and aspects, while not forgetting to include a balanced perspective of the lunar nodes and a spiritual and psychological perspective on transits. “Following your transits intelligently and responsively,” she tells us, “can bring into focus the situations and conditions you find yourself in, and help you understand your part in it. Rightfully, they should be used for study rather than divination and regarded as useful signposts, rather than disruptions by malevolent forces.” She teaches us to meet our transits head-on. “The person who is able to be aware of, express and regulate his[/her] anger in a healthy way never builds up to such a massive explosion, so a transit from Mars does not affect him[/her] so destructively,” we are instructed, and “Saturn transits, properly used, are great opportunities to increase your self-discipline, not only in the area of the chart involved, but in the core of your being as well.” Granted, easier said than done.


We learn from psychological astrologers, including Dane Rudhyer and beyond, that human beings face deeper complexes which can be unfolded in reading transits to the natal chart. Evolutionary astrologers teach us a chart can reveal the more vast journey of a soul. Traditional astrologers reveal that however proactive we may be in meeting our experiences, we all face fate at certain points in our lives, and this confrontation can be mapped out using certain techniques. Without disregarding such stellar wisdom, it can still behoove a consulting astrologer to ask a client facing an incoming Mars opposition to the natal Sun Mercury conjunction, “So, who or what is pissing you off? What can you do to confront and possibly resolve or direct your anger to a positive outcome?” The client experiencing a Saturn square to the natal moon could be gently asked, “What can you do to take care of yourself? When you are alone, how can you find the nurturing and faith you need to live a good life?” These are the questions of a wise counselor who teaches us to read the signs in our chart and then inspires us to meet what is indicated with our best self.


I have read many more challenging astrology books in the years since I first poured over An Astrological Guide to Self Awareness, books which have made me feel the depth and complexity of this awe-inspiring perspective of our universe and human experience which we call astrology. Returning to this guide refreshed me, though, reminding me that our astrological language is simple, elegant and precise, and that Donna Cunningham, though her gifts, shared this language with multitudes of us around the world. Thank you, my astrological friend. Rest in peace.


Sadly, I do not know any more of Donna Cunningham other than through her writings. I would love to hear any stories of her life and work which you may care to share, and I would also appreciate you telling us about which of her writings have brought you enlightenment. Please feel free to share below or on the Facebook page.


Loving the wisdom of the stars,


Sally