During the pandemic, some people got into sourdough starters or gardening; not me, I got into astrology. I’ve always been fascinated with personality tests (Enneagram, Myers-Briggs, and DISC are all ones that I’ve tried) so it only makes sense that I would be drawn to a way of learning about myself based on my astrological profile. (Now might be a good time to mention that I’m a Virgo, known for our love of researching, organizing, and perfectionism). However my “research” up to this point meant I followed a lot of astrology Instagrams and sent funny memes to my sisters and friends. I stuck pretty much to what my sun sign (Virgo) said about me, but it turns out, to really know yourself you have to look at your whole natal or birth chart. Looking at your entire chart looks at when and where you were born and where the moon and planets were on that day. Looking at your entire chart gives more insight into your communication style, outward impressions, and the way you do relationships. So understanding your unique chart can also help you understand yourself. I reached out the incredible Lisa Merrifield of Trails Edge Astrology and Holistic Health to see about getting my chart read. Ready to do this?
The first thing Merrifield did was show me what my birth chart looked like and told me which sun, moon, and rising signs I had (Virgo sun, Aries moon, Gemini rising). Then she went more into detail for each one, describing some of the pros and cons of each and how they worked together.
She had asked me to send her a few questions before we met, and as she went through my chart she pointed out where my chart aligned with those answers. Merrifield was amazing: she walked me through things I had never heard about (like the twelve houses). It was a little overwhelming because I realized just how much I didn’t know (what do all these little pictures mean?); she taught me as she went and helped me see where my strengths were (for me it was daily habits and organization) and what could use improvement.
What I loved was that Merrifield never claimed to have psychic abilities. She simply told me where my what potential I had based on my chart. At times it was scarily accurate and I definitely felt like she was rooting around in my brain because she was able to tell me things about myself that only a few close people know, and was able to affirm fears I had never spoken aloud. The thing I liked best was that throughout our time together, Merrifeld was patient, genuine, and felt like she was working with me to solve my problems. It never felt like she was pushing me into a certain direction or trying to convince me of something that wasn’t true. She was simply looking at… me.
After my reading Merrifield was kind enough to switch places and let me ask her some questions about her work and how she got into it.
This interview has been edited for length and clarity.
Smile Politely: Can you tell me a little bit about yourself and what you do?
Lisa Merrifield: I work in the environmental field, but in 2016, I had a good old fashioned dark night of the soul. I went through this phase where I was doing the work I was supposed to do, but had this moment of “What am I doing here?” When I was young, I was very interested in in all the mystic arts, and then it just kind of got tamped down. On my birthday in 2020, I had a reading with an astrologer and she said to me, “Are you sure you’re not an astrologer? You’ve got the chart for it.” I told her I couldn’t be an astrologer, but that was the turning point; she was the one who put that seed in my head that I could really do this. I couldn’t ignore it, I couldn’t hide it, so I started studying in earnest. I decided that I wanted to become a professional astrologer and I started formal training. Before that I was self-taught and had taken some classes, but then I enrolled in a four year intensive astrology training program. I just jumped in fully and I loved it. Since then I’ve done professional mentorships, astrology cohorts; I go to astrology conferences, and do all the things. I do a lot here [at Pure Being], not just astrology but also some herbalism. I teach community education classes at Parkland, and I do moon circles and Tarot readings.
SP: Are there parallels between working with the environment and your work in astrology?
Merrifield: There actually are, because all I’m doing is switching the way I talk about living within natural cycles, because that’s what astrology really is. It’s about living in natural cycles, it’s about being grounded, and being in bodies on this earth and doing it in a way that’s respectful to ourselves and respectful to all the other plants, animals, rocks and everything else. The two are linked because it is all about living in natural order and timing.
SP: What is your favorite part about doing astrology?
Merrifield: I’m pretty sure I’ve been doing astrology for lifetimes. It’s the thing I can never walk away from. This is what I was meant to be. I’m also a big nerd — there aren’t accredited programs in astrology, but if there was a PhD in astrology, that’s what I’m doing. I love the tech part of it, I love the math, and looking at the charts. And being able to see how things connect in what is called sacred geometry. I love talking and working with people and those moments when the light bulb goes off.
SP: Who do you find is most attracted to the work that you do? Is there a specific subset of people?
Merrifield: We always see ourselves in other people’s charts. I joke that I see a lot of people with Pluto transits because Pluto transit is what brought me to this work. You and I both have earth suns and fire moons, so we operate in life and process emotions similarly. I also have a strong “daily habits and rituals” house. We are also both strongly mercurial — into the deep dive, lifelong learning, and writing. And we are likely both over thinkers. So when I look at your chart, I see myself.
SP: What do you think is the biggest misconception about your work?
Merrifield: I think people think that we are fortune tellers. But we aren’t. I can tell you where the energy is, I can tell you what I see. But I can’t tell you how to live your life. And I shouldn’t tell you how to live your life. I shouldn’t say, this will definitely happen or this will not happen. It’s all about how you interpret it. How are you living your life? This is a craft and I’ve been trained in it, but I’m not a psychic.
SP: So a reading is more of a collaboration?
Merrifield: In my work, I very much like the idea of co-creating because I really do believe there is energy available. If we go with the flow, if we work with that energy, we can make magic. And if we fight it, it doesn’t work. I very much believe it is a co-creative process and the universe is here to engage with us so that we have the human experience we’re meant to have. When you empower people to trust themselves there is no better feeling. The best thing is when I say things and people say, “I knew that, but it was afraid to think it,” or “I was afraid to step into it.”
SP: If someone is new to astrology, where should they start?
Merrifield: People should go with who they resonate with. I find that Astrology Hub does a really nice job of interviewing, and bringing on a lot of different kinds of astrologers. They’re a good reputable resource. Adam Elenbaas from Nightlife Astrology is very thoughtful and gives good, positive examples of how energy might show up; Christopher Renstrom is a fabulous storyteller. He also has some fun books to help ground the astrology in your chart (like the Cosmic Calendar); Astrology for Yourself by Bloch and George is a great workbook for people interested in understanding their placements; if you are interested in the archetypal meanings of the signs, Mythic Astrology by Gutman and Johnson; and the Secret Language of Astrology by Roy Gillet is a really beautiful introduction to astrological basics.
SP: Is there anything else that you want people to know?
Merrifield: There are so many different astrologers and they will all have different skills and abilities. I am a natal modern psychological astrologer. If people are looking for somebody to do a reading, it is really important to know what you’re looking for. There’s no requirement for any training. And while there are many fabulous self taught astrologers there are also some who may not be as well trained. In the work I do, we look at the chart, we look at the transits, and then we figure out how to co-create. There are traditional astrologers, medical astrologers, and evolutionary astrologers. So I think it’s a bigger field than many people realize with many distinct specialities. So make sure to be conscious before you approach somebody, look at what you want and look into their credentials.
If you’re curious about astrology, Merrifield will be hosting a free zoom class called Astrology of 2024 for Busy People on December 14th. You can register here.