Federation of Australian Astrologers
Western Australia


Historical memories of the early days of the FAA WA

The history of any organisation is an important part of its future and we are compiling as much archive information as possible to be recorded on this website for posterity. If you have any memories or information from the early days of astrology in Western Australia we would love to hear from you.


The FAA WA logo was designed as a result of a competition run in 1996 and was won by Robyn Binks under the Presidency of Jan Evans. The FAA WA logo uses the FAA national logo (the Southern Cross inside a blue planet) as a base, and overlays the letters FAA WA as a satellite circling the planet (denoting that WA is a satellite of the National body). This combination resembles the planet Saturn (denoting the public face of the WA branch charged with the responsibility of providing a strong structural base for the FAA WA on behalf of its members).

How the FAA WA Began

How the FAAW WA Began; an essay in words and pictures by Dr Geoffrey Dean and Robyn Lee (PDF 2.2MB)

Historical memories of the earliest days

An interview with Barbara Brackley by Penny Foster

This interview records the early recollections of Barbara Brackley, a founder and life member of the WA branch of the FAA. Penny Foster interviewed Barbara Brackley in her home at 10 Simpson Street, Applecross on 15 June 2003, about the history of the FAA WA.

Most past members of the FAA WA will recall the workshops and functions Barbara hosted at her home in years past and the many well known astrologers who came to Western Australia at her invitation to pass on their knowledge to the WA branch members.

Penny: I joined the FAA in 1982, when did you join Barbara?

Barbara: I can’t remember when I actually joined the branch because I was a member of the FAA before we formed the WA Branch.The first time I went to a conference was the Adelaide conference. Penny: That would have been in 1980.

Barbara: That would have been when I joined then, because Adelaide was the first conference I went to and that was quite an early conference in those days.

Penny: Actually, it might have been early 1981 because I remember when I joined I was asked if I had been to the conference. I didn’t know which conference.

Barbara: Well I thought the branch here started in 1981 – or 1982, because in Adelaide I talked to Gillian (Helfgott) and then it was after that Kevin Barrett was supposed to come over and start a branch and he couldn’t come so he sent Gillian over to start the branch.

Penny: Gillian didn’t live here at that time did she?

Barbara: No, but it was then that Gillian met David – we pinpointed that time because she stayed with Chris Reynolds, over in Leederville or somewhere and I went over to see her and she introduced me to David then. I’m pretty sure it was at that time, because 12 months later they got married. I think they got married about 1982.

Penny: Did they? I went to the Melbourne conference – I thought in 1983 but in retrospect it must have been 1984.

Barbara: I remember seeing you at the Melbourne conference actually, that was where we first met. You were at Rob Hand’s lecture, you asked him a question.

Penny: Did I?? [laughter]

Barbara: Yes, and I remember turning around and looking at you, you were sitting right behind me. Yes, the branch here was started by someone who didn’t stay a member for very long, for various reasons I won’t go into, but it was started by Lee Langston, who really says she is a psychic astrologer now. She is a very nice woman. We started in Kings Park Road, she had a beautiful flat there, right on top of one of those buildings and that’s where we had our first meeting and Gillian was running the whole thing. And Geoff Dean, who you might or might not know –

Penny: Geoffrey Dean?

Barbara: Yes, he was the first President.

Penny: Was he? He’s a professor isn’t he?

Barbara: I don’t think he was a professor, yes, he was brilliant, but – I used to say to him “Geoff, do you believe in astrology or don’t you?” Because he was really quite critical about it. That’s alright too, and Gillian asked me if I would be Treasurer, because she said every branch needs a strong treasurer because they can get into a dreadful mess, and because I had a business background I suppose she thought I could balance the cheque book, and anyway, I came in as treasurer at that time. Geoff only stayed in that position a very short time and then pulled out, and somehow or other I got nominated as President, where I seemed to stay forever.

Penny: Yes, you did.

Barbara: No-one else wanted the job.

Penny: I thought it was until the mid 90's?

Barbara: It was the 90’s, but not the mid…

Penny: The constitution was changed in 1995 and that was Jan wasn’t it.

Barbara: It (the Presidency) was changed before Jan I’m sure. I can remember, we started meeting at the Seeker Centre – that’s no longer there, I can’t remember the name of the road, there, but a lot of people will remember the Seeker Centre in Subiaco. It was a sort of a poor old building that used to be stables someone told me, and we used to meet there, and it used to pour with water. It wasn’t really a very suitable place, so when I was put in as President I said we should get a better venue. So then we went to the Subiaco Library, they had a lovely room that was connected to the Library. It was a lovely room and they didn’t use it, we were there a long while and because they didn’t use it much, we met there until sadly they decided to extend the library and we had to get out of there. Well, I was no longer President when we moved from there. Now, who was president when we moved --- um Gail Kelly probably, she took over from me. I didn’t stand because my mother was dying and I didn’t want to go on. Anyway Gail took over at that point and then we met at the of Nurses Federation Building in Kings Park Road, I don’t remember too much after that.

Penny: You ran it a lot from ‘down here’ didn’t you after that?

Barbara: Well, when Jan was there, I had it here for 12 months or more. It helped the Branch get back on its feet financially, and then Jan took over. I thought Gail Kelly took over from me, no, I don’t think Jan took over from me I think Robyn Binks was there somewhere. Yes, I don’t know whether she was before Jan or after Jan, I don’t know.

Penny: I don’t know either, I was over here, but not really involved then.

Barbara: Jan did the constitution actually.

Penny: Yes, I knew that.

Barbara: I had taken very much a back seat by then because I had Peter sick and all that sort of thing.

Penny: So in the early days, going back to when you first started – what got you into astrology?

Barbara: I’ve been interested in astrology since I was a girl, but there was nowhere to learn in WA. I looked at a lot of things like Palmistry but one day someone said to me there was a man teaching astrology in Perth, and that was Geoff Dean! Yes, so anyway I went to his class and there are still a few of us still around that contact each other now and again, and anyway we learned astrology. People think it’s hard to learn astrology these days, we learned astrology by interpolating the planets in the heavens. There was no looking up the ephemeris and getting it out of that, it was a matter of working out where the planet was at that time and how far it would have moved. We did it all on graph paper and it was very difficult.

Penny: How did you find out where the planets were without an ephemeris?

Barbara: We must have had some sort of ephemeris.

Penny: Yes, because when I started in 1976, we had…. remember that little orange book we used?

Barbara: Oh yes, that’s what we used to use. Nothing told you too much – it didn’t tell you the movement of the planets, we had to work it all out.

Penny: Yes, we did have to work it all out with logarithms.

Barbara: It used to take me all day to do one chart.

Penny: Yes, exactly, me too. For years.

Barbara: Maths has never been my strong point - I can’t believe I did it.

Penny: Join the clan Barbara, me too. I’m hopeless but I was so determined to do it.

Barbara: How’s that for fate, when you hate it so much yet end up teaching it.

Penny: Yes, we still have to teach it don’t we? Good thing too, people need to understand how the chart is derived.

Barbara: Any one who learned it that way, knew how to teach it, that’s for sure.

Penny: Back to Geoffrey Dean, is he still around?

Barbara: I’m not sure, he is an old man now (we all are aren’t we?). He must be 80 now. A couple of years ago he rang me up and said “I need some help”. I told him I was beyond helping any one I’m sorry, he would have a wonderful library.

Penny: What did he want?

Barbara: I think he wanted someone to help him do some cataloging.

Penny: Oh I see, we don’t hear anything of him now, and yet he used to write for the journal for years.

Barbara: He might be still around, but Geoff was very controversial.

Penny: He would challenge what was in the journal and there would be to's and fro's …

Barbara: He was on the National Executive when I went as a member. He became the national secretary, I only went to one meeting after that. I’ve sort of lost touch with him now, although one of the girls he used to teach told me that he used to ring her up at times.

Barbara: He didn’t mix socially although he had a wife and sons, - who have really done big things – I can’t remember what, but something to do with space.

Penny: I guess that’s not surprising given their father’s mind.

Barbara: Yes, two very brilliant boys and he was very proud of his boys. He kept his private life very private, and even when I used to go to his home, if ever saw them.

Penny: Isn’t that interesting? I wonder what his chart was.

Barbara: I don’t know, he would never say. He came here when I got a computer to help me set it up and he is a very quiet withdrawn man. He worked all day and wouldn’t even have a bite of lunch.

Barbara: He was good with the little group he had – we all learned astrology with Geoff and he did a lot for us.

Penny: He must have gone into astrology no matter whether he believed it or not.

Barbara: Well, he was controversial, no doubt about that.

Penny: Well I think these days, with the Bernadette’s and what have you, there is more now, we keep going back to the ancients and what they knew. When we started….

Barbara: When I started I started with Carter’s books, Doris (Greaves) told me to use them.

Penny: My introduction was Lyn McCarthy in Adelaide.

Barbara: Gillian used Lindow (?). She also worked with Doris of course, and that’s when I got involved.

Penny: When you first started with the FAA WA were you teaching then?

Barbara: No, because when Gillian came back in 1981 – She started the Academy then.

Penny: She came back and lived here?

Barbara: Yes, in that year she met David, she came back and married him and that’s when she started the Academy and she ran it from here.

Barbara: She was in and out a bit, eventually because of David.

Penny: When did you do the conference? Gillian was involved in that wasn’t she?

Barbara: Yes, she was, I can’t remember exactly whether it was 1984 or 1986. In fact in those days you had to have your qualifications approved by the FAA and had to go before the National Executive.

Penny: Yes, I remember because mine were passed that way.

Barbara: Yes, mine were too. There may have been something else too, but I can’t remember what.

Penny: We were made professional members – I mean I got the Diploma then we were awarded the professional membership weren’t we?

Barbara: Yes. Somewhere in all this, I was I on the board of examiners for 10 years. That would have been 1986 or 7 and didn’t pull off till 1998 or 99. We were there together, and it was at the Perth conference that the National Executive came and asked me if I would join the board of examiners. They gave me a Fellowship at that time sometime.

Penny: When you first started – how many members did you have?

Barbara: 26 comes to mind.

Penny: We only have about 50 now. There are no schools now of course except Jeannette’s.

Barbara: Gail Kelly was one of the first committee members, and so was Robyn Lee.

Penny: Oh Robyn Lee, she spoke at our IAD and she is so good.

Barbara: Who else, I can’t remember, Robyn was much earlier, and much earlier than Gail. Annette Ridgeway was an early member. A discussion then ensued about the topics of our meetings and why we don’t have people attending.

Barbara: The topics really don’t matter that much because all the things we have as topics are related in some way. No matter what it is, there is a connection. They don’t necessarily come because they want to learn, if they learn they learn and they get their learning from their teachers, and come to the meetings for that and for the camaraderie of their peer group.

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