Esoteric astrologer and healer Isabel Hickey was born in Boston in 1903 and taught that “none of us comes unbound into this livingness… Life is eternal. We do not start or finish our livingness here (on earth).”
Hickey’s protégée, astrologer Amy Shapiro, says that during the 1960s and 70s Hickey‘s devoted friends and students called her “Issie.” She was Director of the Boston School of Astrology and revered by many who believed she lived up to her reputation as “Boston’s spiritual sparkplug.”
Hickey died in 1980. Had her wandering soul been inclined to hitch a ride on the New Horizon space craft as it zipped past Pluto and the planet’s oversized moon Charon last year, déjà vu might best describe the feelings pushing to the surface at the time.
Shapiro says Hickey used her clairvoyant gifts to determine that Pluto wasn’t traveling alone but in close proximity with a companion object that, from an astrological perspective, helps to balance some of the planet’s more malefic inclinations. Hickey’s intuited findings were published in 1973; supporting astronomical evidence followed shortly thereafter.
In the years immediately following Pluto’s discovery in 1930 much of what astronomers learned about the planet came from studying tiny dots or pinpoints of heavenly light on photographic film. In 1978, astronomer James Christy of the Naval Observatory’s Flagstaff Station announced that a series of highly magnified images of Pluto on photographic plates revealed a slight elongation – which turned out to be the first of five moons we now know belong to the Pluto system. With technologies available to them at the time astronomers were able to guess the planet’s size and predict its wildly elliptical orbit. But no one expected to find satellites.
Thanks to Hubble and interplanetary fly-bys, astronomers now know that Charon, the largest moon, is almost half the size of Pluto. And its status appears to be up for grabs at the moment because it (Charon) apparently meets the International Astronomical Union (IAU) criterion that should qualify it for dwarf planet status on its own.
Some astronomers believe a binary or double dwarf planetary system makes sense for Pluto. Charon’s shape is spherical and it is actually larger than Ceres, a recently anointed dwarf planet that is orbiting the sun in the asteroid belt between Jupiter and Mars. Also, technically speaking, the center of mass (barycenter) of the Pluto-Charon system lies outside either body, which means that while they may be tumbling together through space neither truly orbits the other.
Christy was invited by the IAU to pick a name for the upstart satellite and, like others before him, looked to Greek mythology for help. Archetypal Pluto is Lord of the underworld and widely viewed by Western astrologers as a powerful, dark energy that is negatively identified with death, chaos and destruction. In a seemingly appropriate gesture, Christy chose to name his discovery after the mythical ferryman of Hades who carries souls of the newly deceased across rivers Styx and Acheron. Depending on the story-teller, Charon has been described as a mean-spirited and gaunt old man with fire in his eyes, or as a winged demon wielding a double hammer. In other imagery that survives, boatman Charon has an oar slung menacingly over his shoulder ready to clobber anyone attempting to delay their journey.
Hickey published her astrological insights on the subject five years before Christy shocked the astronomical community with his big news in 1978. Only in Hickey’s account, Pluto’s traveling companion is not named for dreary Charon but for Minerva, the mythical goddess of wisdom who, according to Etruscan mythology, was pulled fully formed from the head of Zeus. It is Minerva’s role to help balance, heal and regenerate what’s been harmed or broken in the human psyche, she explained.
Hickey’s first book, Astrology: A Cosmic Science, was published in 1970. After 12 printings the book had sold more than 150,000 copies, an impressive number for the genre. An important issue the author wanted to address in her book is the wildly held erroneous belief that astrology is all about fated outcomes. “Fate is earmarked in tendencies, not in facts. All anyone can see in a birth chart are tendencies that will become facts if one does not do something to alter them,” she stressed.
In her second book, Pluto or Minerva, the Choice is Yours, Hickey describes the negative and positive energies she identified with the pair. It is All Right, Hickey’s third book, expands on some of the esoteric themes introduced earlier. A fourth book, Never Mind, was published posthumously by Amy Shapiro in collaboration with Hickey’s grandson Jay Hickey from compiled notes.
Shapiro has a masters degree in education and started studying astrology with Hickey at age 14. She says the title for the fourth book was suggested by an idea Hickey stressed in her lectures: “Issie taught that peace flows from the heart, never the mind,” she noted.
In 2001, Shapiro and Isabel Hickey’s daughter Helen approached Astrolabe, Inc., publishers of Solar Fire and other software programs for astrologers, to produce a computer-generated astrological report based on Hickey’s insights and teaching. Their writing collaboration spanned a number of years and, with editing by Astrolabe’s Patricia White, the report recently became available online at the Astrolabe website, www.alabe.com. The report is also available directly from Amy Shapiro: AmySun@aol.com.
In Astrology: A Cosmic Science, Hickey writes: “The horoscope is a blueprint of our character, and character IS destiny. There is nothing static in this universe in which we dwell. We can change by changing our attitudes and patterns of behavior.
“In doing so, we can change our destiny,” she believed.