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Astrological Blueprint of Vassar

By Heidi Rose Robbins '88

Last summer, I wrote to the Vassar Quarterly to announce the birth of my daughter. Though I had always been tentative about sharing news of my career in academic circles, at the end of my note, I decided at long last to share my profession: I am a professional astrologer.

Sometime later, I received an email from an editor who seemed intrigued that a Vassar grad would end up in such an unusual profession. He asked me to write something for this magazine. I was delighted—and daunted—by the request. I grew up in a household where I learned the zodiac with my ABC’s, so long before I went to Vassar, I was using the language of astrology to understand and interpret my world. However, I have always been acutely aware that for most people astrology is a form of fortune telling and that the astrological column in the newspaper offering advice is read rather like a fortune cookie, something to be read for amusement and then forgotten.

When I work with a client, I cast a chart for the moment of birth, taking into account the exact time, place and date. This picture of the heavens is a blueprint, revealing opportunities and challenges. That an energy will appear, disappear or intensify is absolutely fated (the planets move in specific orbits); however, astrology reveals that how we work with these energies is not. I suggest to my clients that the study of astrology can allow each of us to live scientifically, doing the right thing at the right time in the best way.

When I wrote back to the Vassar Quarterly, I suggested taking a look at Vassar’s “birth.” What can we learn about the opportunities inherent in that moment?

Though there are other critical dates, September 26, 1865 is the one I used for Vassar’s birth chart because it was the day Vassar opened its doors. In every chart, there are ten planetary positions (and an infinite number of relationships between) but I’d like to examine the two planets and two signs that played the most prominent role on that day. A glimpse at Vassar’s birth chart reveals the potential for a revolutionary, dynamic, open-minded institution valuing education through the arts.

On Vassar’s opening day, the sun was in Libra and the moon in Sagittarius. Libra is a sign of great beauty, balance and justice. Librans fight for equality, for what is right, true and beautiful. Libra is a sign inextricably linked to Taurus (Matthew Vassar’s sun sign) because both are signs that value art, beauty and the enlightened mind. Vassar, a liberal arts college, clearly reflects these attributes. It is an institution that values a balanced education through the arts with equal opportunity for all.

The sign Sagittarius involves the fiery pursuit of a vision, goal setting and adventure. It is optimistic and forward thinking. There is boundless enthusiasm to discover the world. A Sagittarius will see the goal, reach it and then see the next. When Sagittarius is strong in a chart, the person or institution often opens its doors to all. There is a great desire to discover the world through study, travel and personal experience. When Vassar opened its doors, education for women was far from the norm. Vassar’s faculty had a vision and pursued it with passion.

Uranus and Venus play the most prominent planetary roles. Uranus is a planet of reorganization and revolution. Those people or institutions with strong Uranus in their charts always take the road less traveled. Uranus is connected with all that is new, groundbreaking or unusual. With such powerful Uranus in Vassar’s founding chart, it is clear this institution will always be on the cutting edge, shaking up all that is staid or crystallized. It is meant to enlighten and enliven.

Uranus played a very significant role in Vassar’s chart in the fall of 1969 when men were first granted admission. The planet, which takes 84 years to progress through the zodiac, was in the exact same position as Vassar’s Libra sun. In other words, the entire institution was being shaken up and ultimately beneficently reorganized.

The planet Venus highlights values, creativity and women. What is important to us? What do we wish to attract? In Vassar’s chart, Venus is found in the sign Leo—a classic combination for a fiery woman or fire and passion in the arts. Great value is given to bold expression. This institution was founded initially to give women a voice, to honor her contribution. Venus was extraordinarily well placed on Vassar’s first day.

Perhaps Vassar astronomy professor Maria Mitchell’s trip across the country in 1878 to witness a solar eclipse with her students best exemplifies the strengths of Vassar’s chart. These women took the road less traveled (Uranus) and set out on a complicated adventure (Sagittarius) to see a grand dance in the heavens. They chose to directly experience and appreciate (Libra) this spectacular celestial event. They were extraordinary women (Venus) experiencing an extraordinary education.