How and why did you become interested in astrology?
I became interested in astrology because it confirmed a lot of what I knew about myself and it was telling me why I was the way I was. I’ve always been self-aware and this language told me why – and it was a language I could relate to. It gave me access to information I didn’t have before.
The first book I read was a 25-cent paperback book with my sun sign, and I fell in love. I knew that I had to pursue this wherever it took me. I was living in Berkeley at the time, and in 1976 I arrived in Forestville with three kids, one in diapers and two who were completely reliant on me. So I needed to make a living, support my family and not farm them out to day care. I had two college degrees in Humanities, but I said ‘I’ve got to figure out how to work at home and take care of these kids.’ I had been giving readings in exchange for dinner and other things, and people liked them. So I said, well, okay—and I hung out a shingle. My friends came to the classes I was teaching and they got readings, then their friends got readings and took classes, and 39 years later I’m still doing it. I’m totally self-taught. There were no astrology books available then. I was reading “The Message of the Stars” by the Rosicrucians, and then just reading, reading and reading. I have also learned by reading people’s charts.
Basically, I didn’t choose astrology. It chose me.

How many readings have you done over the years?
I’ve done 15,000 to 20,000. I have clients all around the world; there’s a lady that calls me from Greece; others call from Ireland, Australia, South America, India and Germany.

What major astrological events are happening in 2016?
I want to talk about a pattern that has been going on for 4 to 5 years that is now kind of over but is relevant to what’s going to be happening next.  It’s a square between Uranus and Pluto, the greatest planets of change. To give you an understanding of the impact of this square, in the mid-sixties Uranus and Pluto were conjunct, which means they were within a few degrees of each other. This marked the beginning of a cycle. At that time, the world shifted in terms of consciousness and politics, and it’s never really gone back. This seed has been sowing since the mid-sixties—and now, from 2010-2015, the seed has been sprouting.

That means, collectively, in terms of governments and economies, anything that wasn’t authentic or viable is either going to be gone or is crumbling, but sometimes it is such a big system that we’re in the middle of it and we don’t see it crumbling. This is going to continue to manifest for several years to come, and a lot of institutions and systems that are not permanent or viable are in the process of crumbling. It’s hard to say what these things could be—but one thing is questioning the viability of international corporate capitalism. The universe is about equality and balance. That trend is still going to be noticeable in several years to come, including throughout 2016.

Specifically, in 2016, there is a square between Saturn and Neptune, and squares are always challenging. Squares are energies that are pulling against each other. Saturn is very defined, goal-oriented and productive; and Neptune is all about transcendent consciousness, seeing through the illusion of permanence and helping us to access the realm of divine awareness. This will be the challenge for us during the first three months of the year.

This will be challenging in terms of clarifying our goals and directions. Neptune can bring a lot of confusion in various forms… about where am I going and why, and how and when am I going to get there, so a person can feel like they are spinning their wheels. What you can do is: 1) be aware it’s happening; 2) create a strategy to bring clarity. The way we can do that is to do some Neptune work, which is always about inner work or working on the emotional, psychological and spiritual aspects of who we are.

Jupiter starts out the year in Virgo—bringing attention to health, nature, the higher-mind and education—so I’m hoping the first nine months will bring more attention to the environment. This will bring the issue of climate change into higher focus and could bring the issue to the top of the political agenda.

From mid-April through the end of June, Mars will be retrograde, and that is a good time to review what we’re doing, to research the future and to repair things that have been broken—but not to start new projects. If we do, we have to start over again and redo them.
Then Jupiter goes into Libra in early September, during the last two months of the presidential campaign, so income equality will be in focus, and that’s about trying to balance the power that so few have over the many.

Overall, 2016 is not going to be as challenging as the last few years have been—outside of the Neptune-Saturn square, which will continue through the first of the year to the middle of October.
Also there are some indications there is a nice Trine throughout the year between Saturn and Uranus, which talks about positive economic growth.

Is there anything going on in a bigger way with specific signs in 2016?  
Saturn is in Sagittarius for the whole year until end of 2017, so Sagittarius, Gemini and, to a lesser degree, Virgo and Pisces, should be doing a lot of work on personal growth next year.
Mars will be retrograde in Scorpio and Sagittarius. One thing both of these signs have in common is they both have an orientation on growth – so when Mars is retrograde in Sagittarius and then retrogrades back in Scorpio, this will be a time for people with planets in those signs to have another look at reviewing at who they are and the life they are living.

Do you make predictions based on astrology?
Yes and no. I talk about the nature of the energies in play for a person at any given time, and I can talk about the different ways that they could manifest or use that energy. Which options they choose is their free will.
For example, Mars can represent new beginnings. If Mars is influencing someone’s house of career, it would be a good time to start a job, develop a new aspect of what they are now doing, or be more creative or bold and courageous in what they are doing.

Does your intuition come into play when studying a chart?
Interpreting a horoscope is an intuitive art. There is a left-brain and a right-brain part of astrology. The left-brain part is understanding the different components: defining the key words for planets and houses, and that includes the casting of the horoscope through simple formulas. Once you have the chart created, it flips to the right brain; and you take the conceptual understanding and run it through the intuitive mind. The individual astrologer would know the connection and the nature of the connection, and talk about the whys and wherefores. That’s what makes it personal, when you come to an actual astrologer.

When is the best time to get a reading?
The best time is when a person needs clarity and direction.

The basic reading is the reading of the natal horoscope. It’s a picture of what the solar system looks like when someone was born and is a reflection or indication of the fundamental patterns people will be living with during their lives. I always tell people: As wonderful an event as your birth was, the planets didn’t stop moving—and relative to where the planets are now, how is that influencing that fundamental force-field. That type of reading would update the natal chart.

We could do relationship readings, and readings between parents and children.
The force-field defines for us our strengths and weaknesses, where our energies want to flow, with harmony or with tension. So the idea is to take as much advantage as we can of who we are and what we came to this world to do. This implies the need to own our tools as well as to work through our challenges In the context of any type of reading, we can gain greater access to our tools as well as work toward personal growth.

Final thoughts?
This year, I think, will be a lot easier for a lot of people than the last few years have been. There aren’t as many overall challenges and difficulties, not as many earth-shaking, ground-shaking and reality-shaking challenges. This is a year to cool out a little bit, maybe resolve on cleaning up the damage from the past few years. A lot of new stuff will be going on collectively. Each person will have their own personal challenges, which I can see by looking at their own personal charts. From 2020 and for the following three to five years, there will be more big stuff going in our economic and political systems and with the environment. SD

About Rio Olesky
Rio Olesky has been a serious student of astrology since 1967 and a professional astrologer since 1976. He has been teaching astrology classes since the 1970s, offers private readings and has written “Astrology and Consciousness,” “A Manual for the Modern Mystic” and “The Astroreader.” He also writes monthly columns and has been interviewed on radio. He received a Bachelor’s Degree in Humanities from the University of California at Berkeley and a Master’s Degree in Humanities from San Francisco State University. Although his primary focus is spiritual (he has been a practitioner of Kriya Yoga since 1975), Rio also brings to his readings the experience of being a husband, father and grandfather. He is also an accomplished didgeridoo player. Contact: 707-887-1820, starwatcher.com.