June 14, 1948 — August 11, 2015
On Tuesday, August 11, Barbara Somerfield entered the next realm after a long series of illnesses. Dance was part of her life’s passion starting at an early age, her father danced with her on his shoulders as a nightly ritual. At 3 ½ she started dance lessons with close family friend, Ruth Benov. In high school she traveled from Queens to Manhattan every day after school to train at the Martha Graham School. Martha’s spiritual philosophy implanted in her many of the qualities that would guide her life: falling and getting up over and over again, discipline, and appreciation for beauty in all forms. Yuriko Kikuchi, one of the Graham principals, took her under her wing and took her to workshops at Connecticut College, where she studied with some of the greats of modern dance: Jose Limon, Alvin Ailey, Tally Beatty, Jean Erdman, Eve Gentry, and others. After high school she entered the New York University Theater Program with the intention of becoming a professional dancer. A spinal injury ended this dream.
She drifted for several years until through a strange set of circumstances she was given the opportunity to study astrology. She then joined Henry Weingarten at the New York Astrology Center, which became a leading bookstore for metaphysical and alternative health books and a center for classes in these fields. She and Henry founded the National Astrological Society in 1970, and through this organization sponsored conferences around the country presenting the giants in the field, Dane Rudhyar, Marc Edmund Jones, Reinhold Ebertin and Baldur Ebertin, Ronald Davison, B. V. Raman, Dr. Michel Gauquelin and others, inspiring a new generation of astrologers.
After a healing through acupuncture in England, she and Henry founded ASI Publishing to publish the first acupuncture text in America, for several years the only one available. ASI went on to publish other ground breaking books in metaphysics and alternative health.
After leaving ASI Barbara founded Aurora Press, Inc. in 1981, now based in Santa Fe. Aurora continues to publish classic books in the fields of astrology and metaphysics.
Over the years she has supported many charities working with children, trauma survivors, AIDS patients, womens health, and poverty alleviation. She was a member of Central Synagogue of New York.
Barbara was born in June 1948 in New York City to Ralph and Elsie Somerfield, who predecease her.
May her memory be a blessing.
Who inspired my first steps on the Path
With loving gratitude for his sustainment
Twenty-seven years ago at the Balsamic phase of my last Progressed Lunation Cycle, Rudhyar entered my life, significantly influencing the tone and direction of the approaching new cycle. Rudhyar commented that the Balsamic phase was powerful despite its dark inactive reputation. Often significant people or events appeared at this phase, catalyzing the dissolution of outlived forms and assisting the growth of a seed that could potentially come to fruition during the next Progressed Lunation cycle. Over the next 16 years through direct personal experience and involvement in presenting different aspects of Rudhyar’s transformational creative impulse (music , art, poetry, philosophical and astrological work) I was mentored into a holistic approach to life. Throughout our friendship I enjoyed the benefit of his penetrating and inspiring insights into all aspects of my life. I learned how to apply the concepts he wrote about by observing the unique quality of meaning he gave to all the events of his life. This provided a direct experience of the meaning of living a holistic and transpersonal approach to life.
Now on the 100th anniversary of his birth, as I approach another Balsamic Progressed Lunation phase, a new level of the essence of his mentoring emerges. Rudhyar’s prophetic visions can help guide us through current personal and collective crises.
“Events are not the most important factor in your life. What counts is the meaning you give to them, how you use them. A birthchart shows how best to actualize the potentialities of your entire being. It is your celestial name, revealing your unique individuality in this life. Everything in it is right for you, if you accept its essential implication. Astrology can guide you in discovering that meaning, in decoding the symbolic language of the sky- if used with this intention.”
—From a letter to Barbara Somerfield 1972
My notes from Rudhyar’s last public talk, on his 90th birthday, resonate as powerfully today as they did 10 years ago. Approximately 50 people came from all over the world to be with Rudhyar , attend lectures, experience his music and discuss his work. Although he was experiencing physical difficulties and an upheaval in his personal life, he never lost his ability to give meaning to everything that happened ,perceiving every circumstance, no matter how difficult, as part of a process and connecting it to a larger whole. Although physically fragile, a strong transformative palpable energy field emanated from his being through his words. I spent precious days alone, at home with Rudhyar after his 90th birthday conference. We discussed the past and the future and his perspective on the choices I made in 1970 regarding how to best actualize my involvement with his work. He asked that his autobiography be published by my company, without the revisions a publisher suggested. Another publisher he favored for his autobiography rejected it six months earlier as “too personal.” He expressed that he tried to show the reader that despite the many difficult circumstances of his life he viewed it as a process unfolding within a larger whole.
He requested I publish my notes from his last talk, March 24, 1985 in the journal I edited and produced, the National Astrological Society Journal. I offer a small part of his last public message, in honor of Rudhyar’s 100th birthday.
“He who treads the path is in a way alone, and yet not alone. Our implicit divinity, comes to meet us, as we reach towards it. In India it was the guru who was supposed to be a clear lens to give us a feeling, a reflection of what the divine state was. However, if we are individualized enough already, free from biology and our culture, we need not have that kind of physically embodied guru .Yet, we almost always need at first a mentor to dissolve the structure of the traditional culture-mind as well as to introduce us to the basic principles of the new mind organization. Strangely enough the process is easier, when the culture is disintegrating. It creates tension of course, but that tension is necessary to incite and give strength to our will to metamorphosis.This new mind is only a structural foundation. But it is necessary. In my whole life, I have tried to provide such a foundation in terms which could inspire the generation following mine. I have done all I could under difficult circumstances, and now it is your full responsibility. The power that held my whole being as a lens to bring ideas to some focus, will be released when I go. Perhaps, when the person that I appear to be, is gone, it may be easier to tune up to the wholeness of the spirit, to the freed seed .
As it is now, I have stated what I know is my truth, and for me incontrovertibly reality.
Do with it what you will, as you will , as you are able to.
May you live, think and act, in terms of the wholeness you are.
In the presence of wholeness
May you act, feel think and have faith,
Faith, courage, patience, endurance.
May these be, every day your companions,
as will still be my love and sustainment in whatever state of being I shall be in the years ahead.
This is the end of my talk
May you carry the implied message
May the power of that message remain with you ,as long as you can hold it in your consciousness.
And now please go, in peace and silence
I bless you all,
The whole universe is waiting for you
Be true to yourself.”
—C Dane Rudhyar, 1985, reprinted from NASO Journal Spring1985
With these inspiring words Rudhyar and the participants departed silently.
© Barbara Somerfield 1985, All Rights Reserved
TRIBUTE TO DR. MICHEL GAUQUELIN 1928 - 1991
I first met Michel when he spoke at the January, 1969 National Astrological Society conference in New York City that I organized. Having read his Influence des Astres, which established the Mars effect, I expected to meet a dry statistician. Instead I found him warm, with an original sense of humor. He was open and accessible to anyone seeking information. He surprised me with his uncanny ability to guess people's rising planets. An accomplished tennis player he was ranked among the 50 leading French tennis players.
Trained at the Sorbonne in psychology and statistics, he devoted his career to investigating a subject that caused his academic colleagues to attack him. Michel demonstrated courage in confronting scientific prejudice and debating his often vicious critics. He provided the first significant validation of the astrological hypothesis that man is connected to the cosmos and that planetary positions correlate to specific personality traits
Ironically, while his groundbreaking work provided scientific proof for correlations of planetary effects, his research gave little support to many long-held astrological beliefs. His initial work correlated Mars in the zones of power with famous sportsmen. He later connected the Moon in zones of power with writers, Saturn with scientists, and Jupiter with actors and politicians.
Michel possessed enormous discipline, impartiality and integrity, always presenting both his positive and negative results. All his initial research (before computers) was undertaken by gathering and calculating extensive horoscope data by hand: he would canvas Europe to collect this data personally paying the requisite fees to registries. During a visit to his laboratory in Paris, I was overwhelmed viewing thousands of 3" x 5" cards which contained all the data.
In 1989, he was awarded the National Astrological Society's Marc Edmund Jones Award, in recognition of his lifelong achievements, which provided astrologers with significant data to communicate to a skeptical scientific establishment. His untimely death was a tragedy for the whole astrological community. Astrologers owe Dr. Michel Gauquelin an enormous debt. His pioneering research laid the scientific foundation for validating planetary effects.
© Barbara Somerfield 1991