Gift yourself a Mamma Mia-worthy holiday in Greece and take a crash course in astrology in the process
I’ve been working with bestselling astrology author Joanna Watters since I began as editor, so when there was a slot in one of the workshops she runs at her home in Greece, it was a very, very easy decision. Off I jetted in September 2022 to catch one of the last weeks of the season. It was a week not to forget, especially as I learnt so much technical astrology that I desperately wanted to remember. Her summer school is open to all, from hungry beginners to those who have studied it for decades. And in such a paradise setting as Lefkada, it’s sure to be a wonderful experience for anyone wishing for a new skill and a bit of sun.
I’ve travelled solo before, but the week had the perfect amount of freedom as well as pre-organised fixtures for anyone who hasn’t. It was also perfect for anyone single who may want to know with whom they are destined to mingle…Yes, readers – I went along to see what lay ahead in my love life. Isn’t that why most of us turn to astrology? I came home with answers indeed, thanks to the secrets I unlocked in my birth chart. The tutor for this week’s course Astrology, Destiny & Karma was therapist, herbalist and astrology author Elisabeth Brooke, who has been leading courses alongside Joanna for six years. Between them, they run courses in everything from family astrology to tarot. I was intrigued by the karmic angle of this week’s session.
The first thing I was to learn was that in our previous lives, we are said to have the previous sun sign in the zodiac, and we have a tendency to ‘fall backwards’ into that sign in our current lives. To imagine ‘past me’ as a homely Taurus was an interesting thought – I do have an inner homebird despite being an outgoing Gemini –but ‘future me’ as a sensitive Cancer was more of a chin-scratcher. But why was this how it all works? “It’s because we don’t get to the bottom of that energy, that trauma, in the last life,” Elisabeth explained. I was to learn more about my life, and past life, than I’d bargained for!
Setting the scene
An Ionian island in south west Greece, Lefkada is only 40 minutes from Preveza airport and accessible via a causeway. Lefko, in Greek, means ‘white’ and the island has been nicknamed the ‘Greek Carribean’. On the island’s eastern coast is Nidri, which glowed under the light of the Pisces full moon while we were there. It’s an idyllic holiday hotspot, and Joanna moved here from England in 1995. Rich with beaches, friendly tavernas and beautiful islands to cruise around, I can see why. I stayed at a local ‘pension’, at Genny’s, near the marina. Check out my view below!
Day 1: The zodiac
After a welcome meal the night before to mix, Elisabeth began the first day by leading the eight of us in a grounding meditation session. We then spent the morning examining each of the 12 zodiac’s characteristics and learning which planet rules what. I knew most of this from a previous workshop with Joanna back in early 2020, but a refresher was crucial. It was a great chance to get to know the group and learn their signs – it seemed we had a lot of Scorpio suns in our presence! What I appreciated most was the sharing circle Elisabeth easily cultivated across our different generations. It was a safe place to share and ask questions, and a totally different office space for me as a travelling journalist. The conversational approach felt light and relaxed – good thing too, in 29 degree heat. I learnt that if you are born under a new moon, you will have the same zodiac for your sun and moon sign. If under a full moon, your sun and moon sign will be in opposite zodiacs. Mind-blowing! With school hours 10am-1pm and 2-3pm, there was plenty of time to commit the zodiac and planetary signs, (called the ‘glyphs’) to memory, later at the beach, in between swigs of Mythos beer, of course.
Day 2: The nodes
The north node, I never knew, is shown on our birth chart as a headphone-looking icon and suggests the direction our life is heading. By opposition, our south node represents what we must let go of. The nodes are always exactly opposite each other, in opposite signs; for example, Aquarius and Leo. We learnt that a ‘karmic relationship’ is when one partner’s moon sign is conjunct (in the same zodiac as) with the other’s moon. What sounds even more special is the idea of the ‘cosmic marriage’ whereby one person has the same moon sign as the other’s sun sign.
As us dabblers know, our moon sign represents our inner emotional self. I was always so intrigued by reincarnation, and this course was to answer some lingering questions. We choose our birth, our moment to incarnate – down to the time, Elisabeth tells us. This is because our rising sign even explains what we’re going to look like – I come across as a Leo with my ginger mane, big smile and optimistic attitude. I make a mental note to do my best friend’s nodes when I get home, because this may explain a lot of things for her. Dinner was at yet another
restaurant on the seafront… bliss.
Day 3: Free day
After a much-needed lay-in to mentally process the course so far, I spent the day on the beach, attempting some yoga, swimming and sunbathing (I have a very hard job). We had a bit of birth chart homework to try out, so I completed this with two fellow classmates, mother- daughter duo Jenny and Celia. With a gyros dinner to finish the day, this was my ideal Saturday.
Day 4: The houses
“When you look at a chart, you are looking at destiny, with your 12th house being most important,” Elisabeth starts. It was back to ‘school’ and this was the day I really started sinking my teeth in. And so we went clockwise round the houses, as shown as the 12 ‘slices’ of a birth chart. Starting at the 12th house at the 9 o’clock position, we defined each house’s role in our life. Each of us got the chance to explain how we felt each planet acted in our houses. My chart showed my planets as being quite spread out through my houses, so I piped up quite regularly. I discovered that if your planets are more so on the left side of the chart, you’re destined to be more independent, because of what these planets represent – it is a total mirror to our life and personality.
Day 5: The transits
Gulp – this was where I was really going to be challenged. As we looked through anonymous celeb charts trying to guess whose it could be, I made a mental note to book another summer school course on this. Looking at Ariana Grande’s birthchart for instance, I could see sadly it had a traumatic incident in it – and we all know how this manifested itself. With Beyonce’s, we could see her natural need for privacy as well as the innate Libran beauty in her; I could even see, with healer planet Chiron in her ninth house, her way to heal others was always going to be through the Libran talent of arts and dance. Looking at our own, and I was looking specifically at my Saturn Return transit [read more on this on this February issue!]. There sat Saturn in Pisces in my seventh house – meaning I would I have this cosmic ‘coming of age’ via a relationship. Perhaps this would be with a man who would be Piscean, but it also suggested he would be older than me or he had a Neptunian tendency of working in the creative industries.
Looking up in the ephemerides (astrological tables that tell you where the planets are each day) we worked out that Saturn would hit my exact degree in March 2023. ‘Once you know the rules, you know the game,’ I hear Abba sing as I type this up, and it’s true for astrology too – once you know the essence of the signs and planets, and which signs belong to or fit with a planet and which don’t, it becomes intelligible. I even learnt how to predict a person’s month and year of birth by using the placement of Pluto, as well as other ‘outer planets’ and their degrees in a certain zodiac – I thought only professionals could do that. I finally know what dates on the outside of the birth charts mean, as these are where the planets are and what they are doing when a big life event occurs. It became quite clear how much more astrologers can guess about our own lives than we do, and if you find this as unnerving as I do, I’d say it’s a good thing to be able to plot and read them too!
Day 6: Free day
I couldn’t go home without a boat trip around the Ionian islands. With Joanna’s recommendation, Celia and I booked places on the ‘pirate ship’, Odysseia. Captain Gerry, full of personality, sailed us into Papanikolis caves, then led a leisurely walk around the island of Meganisi. With a delicious souvlaki barbecue on a nearby beach, we sailed to Skorpios Island, made famous by the billionaire Onassis, for a crystal clear, five-star dip at Jackie Kennedy Beach, so-called after his wife.
A final group meal acted as our closing ceremony, with the glowing full moon and even a visible Jupiter, the planet of luck, bidding us goodbye. As we departed the following morning, I knew I’d be back. Who’s coming? Thank you, Joanna and Elisabeth, for a holiday of dreams. I was in my element, quite literally, chatting with new classmate friends while diving into the bottomless magic of astrology. It always seemed slightly intimidating to me, even as a spiritual magazine editor, but I was led carefully by the hand into this curious world, and things started to make sense far earlier than I expected them to with this systematic, practical and sensitive approach. It really is a skill for life – efharisto to you both!
Book your place for summer school 2023
Here’s what Joanna has planned for 2023, so leave the husband at home and book today! You won’t regret it…
- 17th May – Unlock the Secrets of Medieval Astrology
- 24th May – Astrology of Families
- 7th June – Tarot and Astrology
- 30th August – Astrology of Relationships
- 6th September – How to Make Predictions
Joanna Watters has been running summer school since 2002 and is a bestselling author of Tarot for Today, Astrology for Today and Essential Astrology, out in July this year. All 15 hours of tuition and refreshments are included, as well as taxi fares between your lodgings and her house each day of class. Food, drinks, flights, accommodation and excursions are not included. To book, go to joannawatters.com or email her via firstname.lastname@example.org. She also offers readings and courses in London and online.
Elisabeth Brooke is an astrologer and herbalist, having qualified as a medical herbalist in 1980. She is the author of seven books including her latest, Goddess Astrology (Aeon Books). She is a psychosynthesis counseller for London drama school RADA, and has delivered workshops all over the world. For more info, go to elisabethbrooke.com