Chamber Music Northwest Imani Winds and BodyVox Beautiful Everything The Reser Beaverton Oregon

The Art of Astrology

Renee Sills created Embodied Astrology to connect with herself, her clients and to make sense of the world.

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For many, the time-honored tradition of astrology is a staple of contemporary life in confusing times. With the psychic upheaval this tumultuous year has brought us, it seems fitting to turn to the cosmos for guidance. As it so happens, it has a lot to say!

Renee Sills (she/her & they/them), a local artist and founder of Embodied Astrology, offered me some insight into the signs of the times. Sills’ astrology practice draws on artistic interests—which include dance and social practice. In a recent conversation, we discussed how her work with the cosmos interweaves with her creative life.

In popular culture, astrology is associated with horoscopes. Take, for example, Puerto Rican astrologer Walter Mercado, whose beloved horoscopes are chronicled on the recent Netflix documentary Mucho Mucho Amor. Usually horoscopes offer advice for each sun sign in the zodiac, and the reader can apply that advice to such personal affairs as relationships, careers, and finances.

Photo by Salty Xi Jie Ng for the #EABodiesProject creative exchange

Embodied Astrology, however, differentiates itself from that general approach through its focus on “embodiment”—a term that can encompass one’s personal and ancestral history, identity, movement and physical sensations, among other meanings. This relationship of astrology to embodiment is not new. In the ancient practice of medical astrology, each sign in the zodiac also “rules” or connects to various body parts. Sills sometimes works with medical astrology methods in her practice with clients. She has suggested that, “If you can speak from your body, oftentimes, you can speak to the truth of something.”

Embodied Astrology’s monthly horoscopes take the form of written prose and recorded meditations, often calling attention to awareness and sensation.

Your heart is always your most powerful guide

and skillful mentor.

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Cascadia Composers May the Fourth be with you Bold new music for winds and piano Lincoln Recital Hall PSU Portland Oregon

Pay attention to what love feels like

and how your awareness moves when your heart is open wide and receptive.”

 

Sagittarius sun sign horoscope from “Love is the antidote to fear – Embodied Astrology for Leo Season (July 22-August 22, 2020)

In addition to these, Sills offers one-to-one consultations, workshops, and podcasts, which often fold in meditation and somatic movement practices. “As a person who identifies as a dancer but is sh*t with choreography, I really gravitated towards forms of dance and choreography that are intuitive and spontaneous,” she mused during our conversation. “With the meditations and the body practices that I put out, I often have a feeling of being a secret choreographer.” 

In a way, choreography is a useful concept for understanding the premise of astrology: It could be said that an astrologer works to interpret the choreography of heavenly bodies in order to intuit the evolving choreographies of human life. 

“Embodied Astrology, more and more, is a practice of somatically connecting with the astrological symbols,” explains Sills. In her most recent “Astro Update” (posted via Instagram), she interprets the relationship between planets Jupiter and Pluto and the constellation Capricorn. “When I meditate on the symbolism of what’s happening, I can find some way that I can relate within my own inner experience,” she says. Symbolically, Jupiter is often associated with expansiveness, Pluto with purging and exorcism, and Capricorn with responsibility. Together, their conjunction carries import in this “cultural moment”: 

“This is a conjunction that kind of marks the vibe of 2020,” says Sills. “There’s such intensive divisions. There’s such incredible uprising. There is such mounting violence right now. We can’t turn away from it. There’s no normal that we’re going to turn back to, and this is a tipping point.” 
Sills was forthright with me about the ways her personal politics—which include feminism and anti-capitalism—inform her work with astrology. Her practice has also evolved through the lineage of Western Astrology—a tradition which reaches back at least a millenia, imprinting itself on everything from medieval Christian doctrine to Reagan’s presidential career. “I have a deep desire to unsettle, as a white person, and interrogate those roots and question them,” she mentioned.

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Portland Columbia Symphony Adelante Voices of Tomorrow Beaverton and Gresham Oregon

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Though Embodied Astrology is a source of employment for Sills, she also puts tons of free content out through this online platform. Both Embodied Astrology’s Instagram account and Spotify podcast feature nourishing offerings, such as this conversation about Revolutionary Dreaming with Blanca Villalobos (I recommend it for anyone who has experienced the pandemic dreaming phenomenon!). In addition to providing free access to monthly horoscopes, Sills’ workshops are available in tiered pricing starting at five dollars, and her subscriber-only offerings are available starting at one dollar. 

Embodied Astrology’s free and low-cost self-care resources cater to social distancing and to the economic impacts of COVID-19. Sills also offers a percentage of select one-to-one consultations on a sliding scale, in keeping with The Green Bottle—a tool for economic justice. 

Self portrait by Renee Sills

Sills said her artistic interests have evolved this aspect of her business. Her experience with social practice art—which presents a very open container for defining what exactly “art” is—helped her frame the economics of her Embodied Astrology as a sort of artistic endeavor. “That study has influenced me a lot in thinking about how to hold space, and working with flexible financial models, right now, feels to me like an art project,” she explained. “It feels very creative and exciting and collaborative and disruptive.” For her, a flexible financial model invites more creativity, opening new possibilities for the work. 

However, the bounds between art and employment are not entirely traceable. Sills has other priorities; she said: “It’s become less and less important for me to think about my work as art, and more important to think about my life as creative.”  

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Sills’ pursuit of a creative life was cultivated from an early age. During our chat, Sills offered me an anecdote about a time during her teenage years when she was struggling in the public school system. She described a period of depression, suicidal ideations, and self-harm. Sills mother was an astrologer and had an understanding of Sill’s birth chart: “She listened to me [say] that I didn’t want to go back to school and she, through working with my chart, helped me determine an educational path for myself that was very self-directed. And she consistently referenced my chart and transits and progressions that were happening to help me navigate my life,” Sills reflected.

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This early experience with her mother shifted her own astrology practice away from prescription and prediction and towards supporting self-direction. “I’m just going to be forever grateful to her for that.” 

If you are interested in practicing Embodied Astrology or learning more about creative offerings, you can start by checking out these horoscopes for Leo season. If you are interested in participating in a trade for astrological insight, Embodied Astrology will pair your photos with astrological writing and give you free a year-ahead birthday report as part of the #EABodiesProject creative exchange—details here.

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Photo Joe Cantrell

Hannah Krafcik (they/them) is a Portland-based interdisciplinary neuroqueer artist and writer whose work emerges from ongoing reflections on social patterning and censorship, (over)stimulation, perseveration, and intuition. Their practices span dance, writing, new media, and sound design. Hannah continues to be influenced by their collaboration with artistic partner Emily Jones.
Photo credit: Jo Silver
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