Remembering Roderick Kidston
January 18, 1961 – January 25, 2017
Tragically and unexpectedly we have lost a cherished and much-loved member of our astrological community. We share our communal grief for Roderick, but also are grateful for all he shared and contributed. In the weeks following the loss, Roderick was honoured for being an inspiring, devoted and talented astrological practitioner, teacher, lecturer and writer. In conversation with his friends and reading the tributes on social media, numerous qualities were cited, but I noticed a trinity of attributes were often reiterated: generosity, brilliance and humour.
Roderick was kind and warm-hearted, freely willing to share his knowledge and research, not only in his public presentations, but privately with colleagues and students who were working on developing their own projects. While working on his book he was happy to share what he had been writing, always available for a discussion or to share his ideas in an extended email. After he recently reviewed my book Vocation I wrote to him about how generous and heartfelt I thought his appraisal had been. He left us a legacy of how we might aim to be more generous to our fellow astrologers.
Brilliant; some have said articulate, eloquent, lucid and referred to the beauty of his writing. Others have remarked on hearing him speak as ‘spellbinding’, or being ‘gobsmacked’. One simple image of his horoscope, Mercury on the 9th side of the MC, speaks to me of his talents here. He was a scholar of what was outside the norm and beyond the horizon. He had suggested his three passions were asteroids, fixed stars and harmonics, and it was within these domains that he would inspire us with the unusual and the exceptional. And always highly researched! In the latter years he had concentrated on his unique work with the fixed stars which culminated in his book The Magic of the Stars, released by Amazon in the first week of 2017. His manuscript was a pinnacle of his life-long research into the fixed stars and their potent influence on the natal horoscope and their place in our astrological culture. He joked about how his research and presentation on the 19th harmonic did not draw the crowds. But this was not the case with the asteroids or the fixed stars. Roderick had an immense vault of knowledge historically, philosophically and metaphysically which he wove into his talks and articles. We met over our shared love of mythology, another area where he had immense understanding.
Much of Roderick’s humour was self-deprecating and we would laugh, as we felt the same way. His humour also profiled our humanness, and I also think it naturally flowed on from his doing what he loved – sharing his ideas and his knowledge. All these characteristics shone through his soulful nature.
Roderick’s mother introduced him to astrology when he was thirteen and he remembers casting his first horoscope in October 1974. Two years later he was adding asteroids to the charts he cast. He felt his self study allowed him to be independent in his views and ideas, and explore beyond traditional constructs and rigid beliefs. It was in 2003, at the Marriage of Minds conference in Hepburn Springs, Victoria when Roderick entered the spotlight and the wider astrological community. From then on he was a regular presenter at our FAA conferences and to the local branches across Australia. He is also the author of Iris, the Rainbow Messenger Report which includes an in-depth analysis of many of the major asteroids as well as others like Flora, Hecate and Apollo. Roderick’s website YinYangAstrologer abounds with his wonderful articles.
In 2003, when the editor of AstroLog asked me to become a regular contributor for the annual, she asked if I knew Roderick. I said I had heard of him, but not met him. It was then that Barbara McGregor spoke so highly and respectfully of him that I knew he must be special. In 2004 we worked on a 12-page lift out called The AstroCards, an astrological oracle. It was published in the 2005 edition and Roderick designed and drew the cards. I was so impressed, as I cannot even doodle, let alone draw. And so another talent was revealed – an artist and a designer. Roderick wrote for the Wellspring Astrology Guide and AstroLog from 1997 until it ceased in 2008. From my email conversations with Roderick I know he had a deep respect for both the symbolic and the spiritual life and his trips to India to renew his spiritual faith were highly important. Roderick was also a philosopher and mystic and his vocation wove all these threads together. His work was progressive and ground-breaking and while many were intrigued, many more were strongly influenced by what he shared so freely and profoundly.
Roderick is survived by his sister Helen. He will be privately cremated and close friends will scatter his ashes in his favourite place in Canberra. Some ashes will also be taken to Pondicherry India, a spiritual haven for Roderick. So many of the astrological community have said the stars are brighter in heaven now. Goodbye to a dear soul we have been privileged to know. Safe travels Roderick.
I can’t remember when I first met Roderick; I seem to have known him my whole astrology life. He has always been just – there!
I do remember the time I first heard him lecture. Not the when, and not even the what – probably something about asteroids. I remember sitting there totally entranced something that happens to me rarely. I shouldn’t be, but I am a harsh critic of astrology speakers. I usually can find something to criticise, but if I had anything to criticise about Roderick’s lectures, it is that he had no idea how good he was. His knowledge was scary. His sensitivity and love for his craft shone through with every word. He spun and wove wonderful stories through the astrology symbolism with a craftsmanship I have only ever heard from one other.
Over the years we became friends – as he did with so many of you here. I don’t think he had even the slightest notion of how much he was loved by so many. He and I would have many Skype and email conversations which were always prefaced with “can’t talk for more than a few minutes”, and more often than not, 30 minutes later we would still be laughing and debating all sorts of philosophical issues. He had that wonderful and rare talent of giving you his entire attention when chatting to you that always made me, at least, feel special.
I have many memories of Roderick, and I’m sure many are being shared today, but my most poignant memory I am sure is unique. As many of you know, I have been organising the Breaking Down the Borders cyber conferences since 2009. From the first discussion of “who should we ask to speak” I wanted Roderick. He was an unknown to the rest of the world and I wanted to change that. When I asked him if he would speak for us I was met with a full blown panic attack. The result was an outright “No!! Couldn’t possibly” He was truly terrified of the technology. Undeterred I tried again a few years later for the second Borders conference. No panic attack this time, but still a refusal – but with a promise that by the third Borders conference, in his words, he would “drag himself into the 21st Century.” And sure enough, for Borders 3, with much trepidation on Roderick’s part, and much hand holding on my part – success. And what’s more he enjoyed himself immensely.
As a result overseas conference organisers sat up and took note. He began to be included in conference speaker “wish lists”, and I know there are many 2017 – 2018 conference organisers who are really sorry they hadn’t asked him to speak years ago.
He was one of the three most popular speakers for Borders- 4 and in typical Roderick fashion, when the recording of his lecture did not come up to his standards, he insisted on re-recording the entire lecture, and as an audience of one, I had the privilege of hearing him do that lecture again, as though he had 100 people listening, and not just one who had actually heard it a few times before.
The day after his death, I went back and watched the video interview I did with him last year. It’s all there – the sensitivity, the intellectual brilliance, the humility and the sense of humour. It’s a treasure of a video I think I will be watching many times over the coming years.
Goodbye my friend. You are now one of the brightest stars in the Southern sky. You will be greatly missed.