This history of ISAR highlights our 22 years of incorporation in California, and is largely retold from my memories as a Board member and officer from that first incorporation in 1979 until 1999, and currently as a Board advisor. All of the original minutes and Board records that I kept are in storage awaiting transcription to the ISAR electronic archives which is hopefully on the agenda in the near future. Yet many who dedicated their vision to cutting edge astrology through ISAR workshops, conferences, research, study sessions and, yes, parties marked some major advances in astrology as precursor to the 21st century. The overview of ISAR’s early years is best followed through each of our presidents:
1979-1981 In the summer of 1978 Peggy Lance met with Juliene Mullette, the founder of ISAR and the first president, at an AFA conference to discuss giving new life to the organization that she had incorporated in Ohio in 1968. With great visions of a world community, almost ahead of its time, and several successful international conferences through the early 1970’s, the ISAR Board accepted Peggy Lance as its new standard bearer and ISAR was re-incorporated on the west coast, December 5, 1979 at 10:30 AM PST in Sacramento, California. Of course the new Board astrologically selected the date and time for incorporation to highlight our mission of bringing recognition to astrology as a serious discipline through research, education and professionalism. Mercury and Uranus conjunct the Midheaven at 22 Scorpio is clear evidence of that focus. From the very beginning, the serious business of ISAR work always ended with a good party. In case you haven’t noticed our presence at conferences over the years that warm social tradition of sharing remains alive and well to this day.
1981-1983 President Jim Eshelman led our focus toward some serious research. The very active Los Angeles chapter met monthly at Zip Dobyns’ chapel to hear local, national and international speakers such as John Addey, Michel and Francoise Gauquelin, Alex Ruperti, Charles Harvey, along with such American researchers as Rob Hand and Lee Lehman. Nearly all of the prominent astrologers of the 70’s and 80’s came through L.A. to Zip’s where a group of 30 – 40 regular attendees participated in lively discussion. A social hour always followed so a great collegial bond formed, aided by some cutting edge computer data that spark research discussion. If you will remember, our computers were the Osborne I, the TRS-80 and the Kaypro with lots of scrolling and disk swapping. Mark Pottenger is greatly responsible for training many ISAR members to use astrology software to move us into the world of computer technology.
1983-1985 President Carol Tebbs pushed for the first ISAR Membership Directory to promote networking so that our members could meet in local areas and form research pods. ISAR was finally in the black after years of financial struggle, and the opportunity arose to put on a blockbuster joint conference known at UAC. In a meeting with Neil Michelsen, then president of NCGR, the heads of the two organizations agreed on the idea and shortly after AFAN came on board. We all met at Marion March’s home to start the ball rolling. UAC was incorporated in 1985 and conference planning for UAC ’86 in San Diego, California was well underway. By now ISAR was able to fund research grants and two applicants received awards. ISAR also was the first to pay conference speakers an “honorarium” to set the community precedent of at least modest professional recognition. In a move toward a better educational environment, the bi-annual conference was held at Whittier College, in California.
1985-1987 President Roxana Muise took the helm and immediately began the project of getting the ISAR tapes in order, and later, the UAC tapes. She realized early on that the ISAR tape archives contained invaluable lectures and workshops by the world’s greatest astrologers many of who are no longer with us. The preservation of the ISAR library on permanent racks was accomplished, and just now has been donated to the Kepler College Library. The library included donated author’s copies, reviewed publisher’s books, a few ISAR published books such as “Frequency Tables for Research” by Mark Pottenger and all back issues of “Kosmos”, now known as “The International Astrologer”. Kosmos and the Member Directory were up-graded to a more professional look to reflect ISAR’s new technical capability. The ISAR bi-annual conference moved to California State University at Dominguez Hills.
1987-1989 President Peggy Lance again took the ISAR helm. To encourage quality articles for Kosmos, the Board voted to pay a small fee for qualified articles and Kosmos expanded to 64 pages. ISAR again co-sponsored UAC ‘89, which was held in New Orleans, Louisiana. ISAR chapters were started in Chicago, Northern California, and Florida. ISAR began a savings program with the purpose of being able to fund research and grants from the interest generated. That savings and investment strategy is still in place today, which has allowed ISAR the secure resources to sponsor several scholarships to each UAC and to our own conferences as well as to invest in research projects such as getting collected data entered into computer format.
1989-1991 Peggy Lance continued as ISAR president and Zip Dobyns continued to end her house as the central meeting place where the ISAR Board converged once a month. During this time the ISAR Board entered into an agreement with Lois Rodden to help develop the Rodden–ISAR Database, or the RID, now known as AstroDatabank. Mark Pottenger worked to refine the categories and build the program, while Lois worked on gathering and correcting data. In those days computer number crunching was still rather slow and inputting all of the data was an arduous task. The Board funded the hiring of a worker to input data into the RID to speed up the process. We continued to enjoy bi- annual ISAR conferences at the “small college” campus of Cal State Dominguez Hills in southern California where the Philosophy Department Chairman generously sponsored us.
1991-1993 With the advent of telephone conferencing, president Carol Tebbs pushed to expand the ISAR Board to include directors from across the country. Ray Merriman and Jeanne Long became the first ISAR Board members outside the Los Angeles area. Branching out to have the ISAR leadership from locations across the nation immediately accelerated ISAR membership. At the same time, the International Vice-Presidents were actively solicited for quarterly reports, which helped establish the international element of our name. The dozen international vice-presidents promoted ISAR abroad and reported to the membership the nature of astrology in their own countries. As a result, ISAR experienced renewed energy and growth. Additionally, ISAR became financially strong through wise investments made through the expertise of our two new “resident experts”, Board members Ray Merriman and Jeanne Long. ISAR continued to co-sponsor UAC ’92 held in Washington D.C. which drew astrologers from 41 countries around the world.
1993-1995 Carol Tebbs wore two hats as ISAR president and UAC ’95 Coordinator. ISAR played an active role in hosting the Presidents’ Council at UAC held in Monterey, California which brought together the heads of the astrology groups across the country to brainstorm solutions to common issues. ISAR was one representative on the ARC Council, which provided the forum for the international representatives. Networking with other astrologers from nearly 50 countries around the world to address community concerns promoted ISAR’s vision for face-to-face international dialogue. It also realized ISAR’s vision for the enhancement of a professional image for astrologers. ISAR published a research manual edited by Mark Pottenger which contained articles by various experts, in a “how to” research book. The fax machine was state of the art communications technology – e-mail was just becoming a working tool. Finally, the technology revolution we needed to propel the quality of research and practice of astrology to a new level has arrived. Connections with disciplines such as financial trading, cycles study, psychology and medicine increased.
1995-1997 Ray Merriman as president began a new era with two successful conferences in Michigan with ARC and the ISAR Professional Conference in Chicago, which brought in many new members. True to ISAR form, networking played an important role in reaching a broader audience. Better technology enabled us to reach members by e-mail in addition to Kosmos, now renamed “The International Astrologer”. Internet communication advances plus a large percentage of our membership being “techno-up-to-date-junkies” opened up the online newsletter forum and daily e-mail correspondence between Board members. ISAR donated its long-term funding for development of the RID (Rodden-ISAR Database) to the community and Lois Rodden found a new partner better able to bring the valuable resource data to the public as a research tool. ISAR’s past president, Carol Tebbs, succeeded Marion March as Chairman of the UAC Board.
1997-1999 Again, Ray Merriman led ISAR to co-sponsor UAC’98 and also coordinated an outstanding professional conference for ISAR in Chicago, which highlighted a new software “tech” pre- conference. Membership increased by another big leap — maybe it was the ice cream parties. Again, ISAR sponsored scholarships to UAC that helped three of our international vice-presidents attend the conference. The ISAR Board and Robert Blaschke established a Speakers’ Bureau to serve as a central contact and information resource for ISAR members who made tour connections. A “Speaker Exchange” was established with AA in Great Britain to insure an international presence at our US conferences and an American presence at theirs.
1999-2001 Again, when Ray Merriman was at the helm, ISAR hosted one of the most memorable conferences ever in Anaheim, California in October of 2000. Two big events were the highlights of the week: Ethics Training headed by Glenn Perry and Michael Lutin, and the ISAR Certification Program, headed by David Cochrane. Focus on these issues provided a forum in which ISAR networked with other groups and astrologers to obtain their input about the concerns of varied astrological disciplines within our community. For the first time, astrologers who had been in professional practice for at least ten years and who completed the day long Ethics Training were recognized in a “grandfathering” ceremony and received the C A. P. (Certified Astrology Professional) Certificate. The purpose of this first C.A.P. authorization was to allow those astrologers who had been long recognized as professionals in the field for their publications, teaching and practice to bypass the more specific components required from 2002 onward for C.A.P. certification.
2001-2003 David Cochrane spearheaded ISAR’s drive toward high standards of astrological practice and research. The joint conference venture with OPA (Organization of Professional Astrologers) on Marco Island, Florida confirmed ISAR’s commitment to fostering professionalism and high ethical standards.
2003-2009 Ray Merriman, as president of ISAR, continued to develop the ISAR Certification Program with Chris McRae, vice president of ISAR. In April 2004, Richard Smoot and Gisele Terry presented the first ISAR Consulting Skills Training at Marco Island, Florida. From then on, the ISAR Consulting Skills Training was required for ISAR certification and became one of ISAR’s most successful programs, with trainings given all over the world – including the U.S., Argentina, Brazil, Chile, Turkey, Serbia, and Russia. ISAR members in these and other countries expressed great interest in the ISAR Certfication Program, chaired by Chris McRae. At the 2005 conference in Chicago all components of the ISAR Certification Program were offered for the first time. Soon after the Ethics Awareness Training and testing, lead by Dorothy Oja, became available by CD and the test was launched on the ISAR website. The ISAR Competency Skills Exam was given abroad and translated into other languages, including Spanish, Turkish, Serbian, Russian, and Portugese. The ISAR Journal was also translated into other languages for members of Serbia and the Ukraine. The International Council, first chaired by Chris McRae in 2000, gained momentum as more VP’s and heads of international astrology schools came together to promote ISAR and its programs. In 2009, the ISAR Education Program was expanded under the chairmanship of Aleksandar Imsiragic with the goal of elevating the standard of astrological education and recognizing ISAR Affliliated Schools, whose curricula prepare students to take and pass the ISAR Competency Skills Exam. In 2009, the ISAR conference in Oak Brook, Illinois advocated astrology’s relationship to society and the need for astrologers to find more effective ways to challenge detractors of astrology, to promote the substantive levels of astrology, and to gain respect through new media relations.