Hi folks, my name is Clarissa, an astrologer since age 14 (Western tropical astrology). I found astrology through serendipity early in life and it has never left me. I am self taught (meaning I have never studied with a tutor or professional, obviously no astrologer invented astrology or could teach themselves astrology without books) and my interpretations are based largely on my experience of astrology in action in real time. I write all articles here on Viva Combusta! with a focus on keeping astrology down to earth and accessible to everyone. I am a working class girl from the very humblest of beginnings (read: dirt poor) and so I believe astrology works best when it can find practical application in everyday life.
Clarissa is my birth name, not a pseudonym. My name is Chirotic in origin. Chiron is prominent in my chart; most people with Chiron prominent as I have find that they share the same or very similar Chiron placement with a family member who has had the strongest influence in their life. I share my Chiron placement with my mother. Chiron comes from the same root word as chiropractic, and during my mother’s pregnancy with me she discovered early onset osteoporosis and was regularly seeing a chiropractor during the pregnancy. The chiropractic practice was a family business, and the chiropractor’s children were allowed to greet people at the front door. My mother’s chiropractor’s middle child was a daughter named Clarissa, which my mother decided was as good a name for me as any. Ultimately, the chiropractic care my mother received did her no favors, as she fell and shattered her femur head (connecting her femur to her hip) in the 8th month of pregnancy. Yep, she birthed me with a broken hip. Chirotic pain for her; beginning of Chirotic life for me. I also have said previously that I have Mars conjunct Algol, which is a severe thing to live with and this too showed from the beginning.
My mother was born and raised in Oklahoma, on what was Indian reservation at the time but no longer is. “Red dirt country”. It was not a great time to be born into a multiracial family, and my mother bore the psychic scars and wrestled with what is commonly referred to as “family karma” (a term I don’t particularly like, but “generational inheritance” doesn’t suffice for me, either) and this legacy was passed on to me as well. In an effort to better understand her experience, my mother became a full time, passionate and most astute researcher, historian and genealogist; not professionally but no less skilled for it. (My mother: heavy water influence distributed in the 4th, 8th and 9th houses.) This wheel had been set in motion for her for years before I was born, so I grew up knowing not just the names of my great-grandparents (which is where most people’s knowledge of their family tree ends) but the names of everyone she could find in our family tree. To date, her research into our family tree takes up an entire dining room table when laid out on paper.
As a child, I did not care for the droll factual information of my heritage that my mother insisted I learned (“Mom, who cares if their name was on the 1820 census?!”). But, as an adult I realize the extent to which this early education affected my worldview growing up. At the time I may have severely resented spending weekends and summers in musty old libraries in ghost towns so my mother could read century-old newspaper clippings saved on microfiche (microfiche!). What I learned, though, was to never fully accept narratives of history (or anything else) without first researching it and seeing it myself. There are/were stories about my ancestors that are/were accepted as gospel truth which I know are, in fact, utter lies because I’ve seen the hardcopy evidence myself. Likewise, I have learned the history of my own country from a different perspective too; learning it from the perspective of the now-deceased who actually lived it, from the perspective of the voices speaking about in in their real-time observations. The commonly accepted gospel truth of nations and peoples is also quite often different than the lesser-known historical evidence shows and I know this because I’ve seen it myself.
My mother and I have strong individual personalities that haven’t always seen eye to eye, but as an adult I respect and thank her for giving me the considerable gifts of knowing extensively my ancestors, knowing their stories in context with the larger historical events and timelines, and especially for knowing that family legacies live on well beyond the grave. The journey my mother and I have taken into the past was not just historical but, in its own way, shamanic as well. Remember, she was called to research the past as a way of coping and understanding her own trauma suffered in her own life and especially to understand the considerable trauma she witnessed her mother endure. On my blog, you’ll see references to genetic memory and family karma and psychic pain and the cycles of history and the interweaving of individual life experience with the bigger picture of world events. This perspective is, in truth, entirely my mother’s higher calling.
I understand it to be my life calling to finish off my family’s karma once and for all, to end cycles rather than perpetuate them, and to clear the spiritual path for new cycles to begin. Astrology is actually a very small piece of that process, but as anyone who reads here is only doing so for the astrology it will be seen as playing out in real time through astrology.
Geographically, my life and my family’s life has played out in the area of the United States known by everyone else who lives here as Tornado Alley. Oklahoma, Arkansas, and Texas is Tornado Alley. Specifically Oklahoma, where as previously stated my mother was born and raised, where I was raised intermittently as a kid, where I’ve lived for the past seven years and where I live at at the time of this post. Oklahoma has, by far, the highest number of deadly, destructive tornadoes out of any state in the U.S.; my regular readers and clients know I’m frequently without power from storms that blow through here, some clients have heard the tornado sirens sounding in the background while on the phone with me. I was personally devastated by the EF-5 tornadoes that killed so many in Moore and El Reno just 10 days apart. Those two tornadoes were and still are the largest and deadliest on record, no coincidence since it coincided exactly with the third exact Uranus-Pluto square. As an astrologer, that fact was not lost on me and I’ve used it to illustrate the power and surprise element of the Uranus-Pluto square.
Growing up in this part of the country, and growing up dirt poor raised by a single mother with sometimes debilitating health issues means that I’ve inevitably always held working class jobs. Mostly in allopathic medicine, such as hospitals, physical rehabilitation centers, nursing homes and pharmacies. But, because I’m Chirotic, allopathic medicine has often backfired on me and I’ve extensively explored naturopathic medicine as well (my Chirotic mother was an herbalist). I’m not a doctor and don’t play one on TV, but this direct life experience through my careers and through my own health issues as well as helping my mother through hers does inform a lot of the information I provide when discussing holistic health through an astrological framework.
This direct life experience has also, obviously, led me to try to find the most practical use for astrology. No, I don’t like blending New Age ideology with astrology, but there have been astrologers fighting that battle for nearly a century or more so I’m not claiming it’s something special. (No one should be claiming that rejecting New Age ideology in astrology and trying to keep astrology simple and down to earth is a special thing to do. Loads and loads of astrologers -both professional and casual- have been so inclined for ages.) It’s easier for me just to say that upright from the beginning so that people know to look elsewhere if I’m not their cup of tea.
I have indeed been studying astrology since age 14. I had very strong interest in occult matters well before that, so it was inevitable that I’d eventually find astrology (I still find it funny that I found astrology at the same time I decided I’d read the entire Holy Bible). There were only so many astrology books available to me at the tiny library in the hick town we were living in at the time, and one of those books was Christian Astrology by Taurus astrologer William Lilly, first printed in 1647. I hated the huge learning curve that the archaic language presented, but as previously mentioned my mother instilled in me a great love of history and the desire to trace everything back to its original roots. So, I tried to learn traditional astrology alongside modern astrological textbooks that included recently discovered bodies and a focus on psychology and free will, versus the more fatalistic interpretations of traditional astrology.
I’m not a purist or elitist so see no problem with using bits and pieces of different schools of astrology or using traditional interpretations for some things and modern astrology for others. In my mind, astrology is a bit like folk magic for people like me: when you’re poor and desperate you just use what’s available to you, choosing from whatever works the best, ignoring what anyone thinks about it.
It was Christian Astrology where I first learned what the via combusta is, at age 14. It’s not an obscure astrological reference; it’s one of the first things you learn in horary astrology. The name Viva Combusta! is a play on “via combusta”, translated means “fiery way” or “the burning path”. It is the area of the zodiac between 15 degrees Libra and 15 degrees Scorpio, traditionally considered highly karmic and unfortunate. As someone who has a natal chart that would also be traditionally considered “unfortunate”, naming my site Viva Combusta! was a tongue-in-cheek way of redefining the less appealing side of astrological placements coming from a more humane perspective of someone who lives with this stuff every day.
What people know me online for is astrology; what people in real life have always known me for, first and foremost, is my obsession with music. I may have picked up astrology at age 14, but I’ve never not geeked out on music. Every era, every genre (except classical). I’ve tried to consume as much music and musical history as possible and still get a thrill out of hearing and learning new stuff. I’ve obviously researched the astrology behind the music that I love the most, but really astrology is about 1/100th as important to me as music and I’ll talk music to anyone over astrology any day. However, I have and will continue to write about astrological/musical connections because that’s my jam.
That’s my authentic gospel truth and I’m damned proud of it.
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