of an Interview with Boris Izraitel
by Garry Phillipson
Izraitel was born in Moscow, May 7th, 1960.
graduate of the Moscow Telecommunication College
with a Master's degree in Telemechanics and Guide-Control
Electronics, Boris since 1982 was engaged in designing
of signal sorting equipment for Medical Industry.
In 1977 he became interested in esoterics and later
on began to study astrology.
is well-known in Russia and other countries as the
founder of ‘Russian Astrology’ Journal
- the first publication for professional astrologers
in Russian. A full-time counselling astrologer since
1986, lecturer at Moscow Astrological Academy since
1990 and editor-in-chief of ‘Russian Astrology’
Journal since 1991, in 1995 Boris became a co-founder
of Euro-Asian Chapter of the National Council for
Geocosmic Research (NCGR) and since then runs the
NCGR Education Program in Russia.
by Boris Izraitel have appeared in ‘The Mountain
Astrologer’ (USA), ‘Hamburger Hefte’
(Germany), ‘Astrolog’ (Switzerland),
books ‘The Complete Guide to Rectification’
and ‘The Russian Book of Charts’ became
bestsellers in 1996 and 1999 respectively.
can always reach Boris at the www.diada.ru
you can email him
(this is his regular address) or
(this is his hotmail account)
& Explanation (by Garry)
2002, Boris and I began recording an interview by email.
One particular point of interest, for me, was to try and
get some kind of idea of what life had been like for astrologers
in the USSR, with a government which imposed a total prohibition
on the practice of astrology.
you are about to discover, Boris has quite a tale to tell.
Unfortunately what we are presenting here is not a full
and comprehensive interview. There were many more questions
which I would like to have asked, but so far, pressures
on Boris’s time - coupled with the lack of a specialist
Russian translator - have prevented the interview from
progressing beyond the fragmentary stage in which it is
now presented. There are (as will be obvious) many questions
which cry out to be asked, which must remain mute for
the time being.
seemed, however, that it would be better to make available
what follows, rather than leave it locked away on my hard
drive. I hope that this presentation may inspire other
astrologers from the former Soviet bloc to recount their
experiences. And perhaps someone willing and able to translate
Russian to English will finally step forward and volunteer
the meantime, my thanks to Boris for his participation
as both interviewee and translator.
Astrology was banned in Russia for many years –
I wonder if you could say a little about how and why it
was banned, and then how the ban was eventually lifted?
A: To begin with, one should be reminded that the corner-stone
of Communist Statehood was the ideology of Marxism-Leninism.
Interestingly enough, this was itself a peculiar blend
of vulgar materialism and elements of the most bizarre
idealism. Anyway, the main concern of Communist propaganda
was maintaining the ideological virginity of the Soviet
people, along with the debunking of other ideologies and
was considered the number one enemy. Occultism, magical
practices, and all sorts of divination - including palmistry,
astrology, etc – were, on the one hand, viewed as
evidence of Capitalism’s decay. On the other hand,
the Kremlin’s ideologists told people that by introducing
“ most odd prejudices”, capitalists tried
to distract working people from the class struggle”
Soviet regime considered Marxism-Leninism as the one and
only world-view possible for Soviet citizens. Diversity
or pluralism in one’s ideological stance was seen
as an unforgivable sin.
Gorbachev’s policy of ‘perestroika’
encouraged what was termed ‘glasnost’ –
freedom of speech, thought, press and pluralism of ideas.
All ideological bans were lifted in 1989. And immediately
newspapers were flooded with astrological stuff.
How were you, personally, introduced to astrology?
Ironically, the first sparkle of astrological knowledge
came from the state TV. In December 1977, Channel 1 broadcast
a programme about how different nations celebrated New
Year. The correspondent from Japan had a story about the
South–East Asian Calendar with its Year Signs. The
year of Horse (1978) was coming... Something clicked in
my mind. I wrote down the names of the animals that constitute
the traditional Asian Calendar. Somehow I got a feeling
that this 12-year cycle might serve as a key to the broader
dimensions of meaning. In 1980 – still with zero
knowledge of European astrology - I tried to apply my
findings to everyday life (compatibility issues mostly).
On one blessed day that year my sister-in-law who lived
in a faraway town visited us and got impressed by my pursuit.
She told me confidentially that she had heard about an
underground group that had regular meetings in the suburbs
of Moscow. In late 1982 I became a member of this group.
Q: So astrology was still banned by the state at that
time; what effect did that have?
We studied the subject under a veil of secrecy that made
the whole atmosphere unforgettable. The apples on the
other side of the wall are always the sweetest. We observed
strict conspiracy and constantly tried to figure out who
is a KGB agent among us. (This is the theme for a separate
Did you ever hear of anyone who was punished by the authorities
for practising astrology? And if so, what happened to
As you may guess, a totalitarian state has plenty of opportunities
to instil its world-view into the minds of the people.
Every child in the Soviet Union was brought up in a full
confidence that even a small deviation from THE–ONLY-TRUE-IDEOLOGY
meant nothing but a kind of mental disease. In the USSR,
psychiatry was a routine instrument for fighting ideological
heresy. There are still ‘scientists’ in Russia
who consider an interest in astrology as a symptom of
fact, a friend of mine underwent treatment for schizophrenia
when, during his period of military service, it was noticed
that he was reading a photocopy of an astrological book.
to a legend that circulates among Russian astrologers,
in 1929 Stalin’s government decided to rid the Soviet
Union once and for all of the remaining astrologers, who
still operated behind the scenes. The secret police managed
to organise an astrological conference, and with most
of Soviet astrology assembled in one place, they wiped
it out. Participants were invited to a state-sponsored
banquet, and once they boarded the bus, they were spirited
away to quite a different destination – concentration
camps. Hardly anybody survived.
People who are sceptical towards astrology sometimes suggest
that it would soon die out if people weren’t constantly
encouraged to indulge in superstitious behaviour by astrology
columns in the newspapers and so on. Having lived in a
society where there was no astrology, what is your perspective
My own meeting with a real astrology was a true fascination
of mind. I felt like a thirsty man who at last reached
a lake of pure and tasty water. For the first 7-9 months
I experienced a series of powerful insights that radically
changed my worldview. The same or similar feelings were
reportedly experienced by most of my friends/colleagues.
me it’s obvious, that astrological knowledge is
not something that is imposed from outside (by external
institutions or whatever) on our minds. On the contrary,
it is an inherent part of the deepest structures of our
minds. I’d describe an interest in astrology as
the most fundamental urge in humanity’s search to
understand the world we all live in.
What is the state of astrology in Russia now?
Though astrology is not acknowledged officially as a valid
occupation yet, the common view is that astrology is one
of the most credible helping professions. Given that psycho-analysts
failed to win wide public acceptance in Russia, astrologers
are usually considered as a natural substitute for this
kind of specialist.
after the ban was lifted, Russia saw an immense popularity
of astrology. Just a few facts: The Academy of Astrology
in Moscow managed to recruit some 1,200 pupils in the
course of the first year of its existence. Funnily enough,
it occupied the office of the former Communist Party Ideological
Institute (!). The ‘Russian Astrology’ journal
(under my editorship) reached a circulation of 20,000
N1 of state TV transmitted daily astrological forecasts
that took twice as much time as the weather forecasts.
We all had a feeling that newspapers gave astrology as
much room as astrologers were able to utilise.
boom is over now. However there is an astrological association
in every big city of Russia. There are newsletters, conferences
and books with circulations of up to 10,000.
three main areas of astrological activity are: teaching,
writing and counselling. It’s not easy to detect
what kind of work is in greatest demand. My guess is that
professional astrologers in this country have to cover
all 3 types of activity in order to survive.
What are your, personal, interests and areas of specialism
Basically, I percieve astrology as the Universal Language.
My concern now is to refine this language and to find
the most effective fields of its application and sound
ways of translation to other more «primitive»
languages. I see the vast areas of possible astrological
application and try to introduce astrology to new stances.
Particularly, I think that art criticism is one of the
most promising directions of astrological pursuit.
am fond of the rectification process. Rectifying celebrities’
charts is my ‘hobby’.
to techniques, I am trying now to be as simple as possible.
I am sure that simple and sound explanation has always
advantage over complex and fuzzy one. Some 10-12 years
ago, I paid tribute to ‘modern approaches’.
Now after being in the field for 20 years, I am back to
the core set of symbols. Asteroids, midpoints, Uranians,
converse tertiary progressions, Arabic parts, and the
like stuff is only employed in extraordinary cases when
traditional tools deliver no satisfaction. My pupils more
than often hear: if you lack something – dig deeper,
never call the department store.
What is your attitude to sun-sign columns?
I have ambiguous feelings about this issue. As a professional
I am usually annoyed when I read sun-sign columns. However
I myself wrote this stuff trying to educate the public
and introduce some astrological elements into the cultural
mainstream. I hope this was not in vain.
How would you describe your beliefs about the world?
Having Gemini on the 9th house cusp and 3rd house Jupiter,
I am pragmatic with an unstable belief system J
I believe in a Higher Intelligence and am sure that HI
communicates with us using symbolic language
Are you (when you do astrology) a magician?
To a very slight extent. I am mostly detective and also
care-giver. I love people and love to help them to solve
How is your astrological time divided up?
Consultations – approx. 40%, writing, editing, translating
– about 30%, teaching –10%, researching –
How do your clients first get in contact?
I have never used ads, and regard mouth-to-mouth recommendations,
along with teaching, as the best ways to get clients.
The latest developments put forward the Internet as a
means to acquire clients
How do you define success in your astrological work?
My most brilliant readings are usually interrupted by
this sort of client’s outcry: “Now I get it
all! I see the whole picture clearly!” My prime
objective in counselling is to get my client to a higher
level of self-understanding. My best counselling sessions
result in self-insight and total self-acceptance by my
I’d like to tell another story. Some 10 years ago
I did a consultation for the mother of a 12-year boy on
the issue of vocational guidance. My advice was to encourage
the boy to choose the career of dramatic actor. His mother
seemed very sceptical, and asked me to try to find something
more real. However I insisted that her son (with MC ruler
in the 5th house and 5th house ruler –Jupiter- on
Asc) should try to become an actor. Last summer he appeared
on Russian TV screens in a prime-time movie. Needless
to say that it was my little personal triumph.
What have been the different stages of your astrological
Basically, there were 2 main stages:
1) an extensive stage when I broadened my awareness and
uncritically accumulated new techniques;
2) an intensive stage, characterised by a selective approach
and concentration on the most important issues.
Which astrologers, and which works, have mainly influenced
Dane Rudhyar and his ‘The Astrology of Personality’
influenced my fundamental take on astrology and spiritual
development altogether. Among my other favourite books
are ‘The Real Astrology Applied’ by John Frawley,
‘The Literary Zodiac’ by Paul Wright, and
‘Recent Advances in Natal Astrology’ by Dean,
Mather et al. I hold in high esteem such authors as Steven
Arroyo, Geoffrey Cornelius, and Robert Hand.
What changes would you like to see within the astrological
world at large?
That is a serious question that requires deep analysis.
What I can say for now is just one observation.
way international conferences are usually conducted hardly
can promote any real exchange of ideas and hence any further
improvement of techniques
What changes would you like to see in astrology within
I’d expect the language unification process to be
The period of amateur enthusiasm is over, it’s time
to become pragmatic professionals...
Boris Izraitel 2004