Last spring I had the pleasure of meeting Lonnie Ro at NORWAC in Seattle. We were both sitting in the back of Hakan Kirkoglu’s lecture on prenatal eclipse charts. During the lecture we exchanged a few potent remarks. A few hours later the same happened in another lecture, and what struck me most was that I saw in Lonnie a particular type of interest in astrology that mirrored my own. A breath of fresh air! I had to get to know him! After the conference we kept in touch and he accepted my offer to be interviewed for the rest of you here. So! Without further ado, get to know the amazing Lonnie Ro!
JZ: You are a polymath wizard! Up to so many various things: The Lifted Gift, SÜPRMARKT, astrology… even mixtapes!
LR: Just want to start by saying you’re SO dope Jenn! Very essential to the culture! ALSO, for some reason I JUST found the Herschel Uranus discovery postcard you sent to me! I think my mom had misplaced it or something! Very special (: You da best!
JZ: Awe! Thank you! Now, let’s start from the top… tell me more about Lifted Gift and your work there:
LR: Ok! The Lifted Gift is an initiative coming from the aftermath of a set of particularly engaging conversations with a set of particularly passionate individuals. If you we’re there, you would have been part of a spontaneous think tank. Topics at this think tank: Does your environment encourage you to struggle or thrive? How has mass commercial advertising (thinking) affected our communities? How is prosperity or poverty created in a group of people? What does an individual do to spark change?
We ended up coming to a deadlock because we knew that the only way to answer these questions was to be active, experiment, and see if our respective approaches had validity. So then began our action to uplift people and dissolve barriers towards the simple prosperities. Those include rejuvenating health, sense of human family, access to benevolent networks, commonwealth, personal evolution and realizing joy.
Our initial events have been round table gatherings where we create thought provoking activities around delicious plant-based meals. We also host a skill sharing work party called “Brainstorm LA” where we create a co-work environment that helps bring together constructive contacts and feedback from a well-cultured peer network. The purpose is to pool our communal resources and individual expertise in a way that encourages support, family-ship and benevolence in our interconnected circles.
JZ: I love that potent mix of intention coupled with real action! Your group radiates so much energy too! I also know you are involved with SÜPRMARKT, a solution to solve the food desert crisis in urban America. What inspired SÜPRMARKT?
LR: This came after the same explosion of purpose that helped forming the Lifted Gift. Our partner Olympia, thought of an idea to transform the community with pop-up shops that would sell affordable organic produce. Naturally this falls in line with the type of impact we collectively set out to have so I was all for helping see her initiative through.
JZ: So there’s an organic twist too! What are some of the other noticeable ways SÜPRMARKT is shifting your community?
LR: It has been a treat to be part of SUPRMARKT thus far. We’ve received a great reception from the community in Leimert Park (the Los Angeles market center for that afro-roots feeling). It has been great to see us welcomed and championed by members of the community interested in bettering their health. We’ve received support and encouragement for bringing something to the community that is sparsely available. High quality, nutrient dense food. Being there Sunday after Sunday, we’ve been able to see our brand grow into a budging fixture in Leimert Park as well as the wider LA vegan/organic community.
JZ: Excellent! Your work is really inspiring! And, as if that weren’t enough, you make mix tapes too, what’s the story there? How long have you been doing it?
LR: Well I’ve been doing music for at least half of my life now. It’s probably my innermost identity, a musician. To me, any and everything can interpreted through musical metaphor. For a time, my mom pursed a music career and I have strong memories of being around as a child. I myself started writing rhymes, recording and making beats with a best friend of mine in 8th grade. When I think back on that time, I definitely awakened a curiosity to create which has stuck with me ever since. I was part of a band during my senior year of high school that won a series of our schools “battle of the bands” competitions. These wins earned us a chance to compete against bands from all over the world in Dublin, which we actually ended up winning as well. So with this victory we were “promised” the works; a world tour, professional debut album, the whole nine. But around this time (2009), there was a major financial crisis, and the program’s backers (Coca-cola) ended up pulling the funding. So we were left high and dry by that company but ended up singing a deal with a small upstart label and recording our first debut album. Ultimately, soon after that our momentum slowed as a group and we disbanded.
JZ: It’s still amazing that your early engagements brought you be a global champion. What happened next in your musical life after that experience wrapped up?
LR: In the time since, I’ve founded a creative collective with my closest friends and collaborators called Innovator Co. Everyone in Innovator Co. produces music, but as a group our mission is to provoke progressive thought through our content. Actually if anyone is interested we have JUST released a new video called Bullseye alongside an EP called “Letterman“! Check it out. At the beginning of this year, I released a super vibey easy listening instrumental EP under the alias I.S.M. or InterStellarMedium. Its called a.k.a Jupit3r and is sort of a instrumental ode to the planet. Check that out too!
JZ: Oh I love your Jupiter mixtape. That’s one thing that prompted me to ask you about your relationship to music. It’s such a creative interpretation of that planet and what it signifies. I would love to hear more like that. How serious do you take your mix-tape activities?
LR: You know, I’ve been thinking about this often lately. Though I have been called towards more humanitarian work, I know deep down I will always posses the desire to create. I realized that I will never be completely satisfied just being a listener, I need to step on the court and take my shot. I’ve been having the feeling that some dreams/talents are like plants, the amount of care, attention and “water” you provide them with determines how long they survive. In some ways.. “if you don’t use it, you lose it”. When my mind contemplates that, I know that creating music is something that I want to “tend” to over the course of my life.
JZ: I’m totally on the same page with you there. Plants have emerged in these past few years to be serious teachers for me as well, both in being metaphors for how to live life, but in other more tangible ways. So, given that you are hitting on the meaningful core, let me ask, what drives you? What is your fuel? What is your mission?
LR: I think the idea of manifesting my most grand potentials drives me. I have a good feeling of the destinies available for me, but I also believe that they have to be activated and actualized. The gifts that I have been given seem so diverse at times that I wonder how can I thrive splitting my energies between such contrasting goals. Ultimately though, my highest mission is that of “self-realization”. You know … that moment that shatters Maya. That shift that brings you into permanent integrity with the all-that-Is. I’ve had a few moments in my life that really put me in a space where I understood that the goal of life is to reach that spiritual precipice. From that position, all lesser goals seem to handle themselves. Channeling music of my dreams, revitalizing my physical being or yielding a positive impact on my world.
JZ: Yes, those moments are powerful and really put things in perspective. Speaking of perspective, is there anything that unifies the threads you are weaving? There doesn’t have to be, but if there is, what is it?
LR: I think to understand why I do my work, it helps to understand the context of my environment. Growing up within Los Angeles, identifying with hip-hop counter culture, meanwhile being rather nerdy and going through an intense spiritual awakening. Growing up alongside the internet like a twin sibling. Being part of the most “advertised to” generations of people on the planet. Trying to discover alternative lifestyle possibilities in my American dream (or nightmare).
For me there is an innate understanding about how culture comes at me which allows me to spin culture back at the world. It is a very Aquarian age, and there is a Meet-Up group for any of your interests. Within this age of personalization and torrential information. Eclecticism may describe the new common culture. This is why creating mixtapes, networks of people, designing apps, teaching astrology, and finding spiritual liberation can all coexist in me. The way I see, we are here to externalize any value we have to add to the to world. Any goal that you can invest your totality into stands to be claimed. I am here to live in color and create prolifically.
JZ: And you are succeeding! I love the tapestry you are weaving. Where do you see yourself in five, ten years?
LR: I am glad you asked me this….I probably don’t think of it enough. In five years…it’ll be what, 2021?
In 5 years I’ll be abundantly surrounded by the fruits of my work. Mastering the art of lifestyle-entrepreneurship and self-sustainability, making a living using what I know and doing what I love. Lots of art and music to show. Starting a Los Angeles astrological network/convention. Several successfully launched app + tech endeavors. Making an difference in public health & quality of living. Thriving networks and business created by skillfully wielding the web. I see myself as having made foundational corrections to my food and daily lifestyle. I also see myself doing a lot more traveling and “wanderlust”-ing.
JZ: “Wielding the web” like a weapon. Love that! So how about in ten years?
LR: In 10 years I see myself as having made the major next step spiritually towards moksha (liberation). I see blocks being cleared in various chakras and the release of karmic debts. Maybe by this time I’d be in a frame of mind to be even more selfless, even more of a channel for the divine will. I imagine creating a living flow that really encourages me to remain in life’s sweet-spot. Having kids sounds like a probability. By this time I believe my worldly affairs will have created enough momentum to sustain a self-made lifestyle. I’d like to be taking seriously the power of my spirit, my choices and self-mastery. In 10 years I’d hope to have had even more new faculties open up that remind me of the evolutionary intent of this time.
JZ: May your plans emerge more deliciously than you can image now! I hope to be involved in some of what you accomplish! Here’s another stock interview question that let’s us peer further into your workings…do you have heroes? If so, who and why?
LR: One of my biggest personal heroes is Dane Rudhyar. He was the writer and astrologer who really blew the top of my crown. His insights we’re so lucid and articulate that I began to see very immediately the validity and design of the planetary cosmos. He is in someways a prophet to me, or at least an upgrade to the humanity software. The things he wrote about at the time was WAY beyond the thinking of the day. Not to mention he was also a musician and poet. I think the diversity but coherence of pursuits inspired me to be very individualistic in my goals.
Another one of my biggest heroes is S.N. Goenka the modern day founder of the Vipassana ten-day meditation retreats. The thing I like about him is that he was a very successful businessman early on, so learned something important fast; money can’t buy happiness. His discovery of and commitment to spreading Vipassana represents how I’d like to use resources once I have a chance to command them.
JZ: That’s very true about money. It might not buy happiness, but like you say, he was a successful businessman and was able to be a cultural force through it. So that counts for something. Anyone else?
LR: Hmm… he’s not necessarily a “hero,” but I’ve always been a big fan of Kobe Bryant, or any incredible athlete for that matter. The self-discipline and the will to win is what I admire. Watch Kobe’s documentary called “Muse”
Lastly I have honorary hero of anyone who ever silently made it to enlightenment yet still decided to do works in the world. At enlightenment you are in a way, “free to go”, but to choose to help others by embodying and transferring the divine law, its like we all inherit spiritual escorts who guide us through the gates.
JZ: Ok. Now that we’re sufficiently warmed up, let’s dig into the astrological side of things, which is how we met! How did you get into astrology? Tell me your genesis story.
LR: Well…It all started with the MBTI (Myers-Briggs) personality test. Somehow I stumbled across this test and was FLOORED by how accurate the description of my type was. I became super interested in the whole system and even became somewhat of an MBTI reader. One year in college I took a research methods class and we had to design a study. I knew I wanted to do something with the MBTI test so what I came up with was to have people take the MBTI test, but also provide me their birth info. This way I could cross-analyze the results to see if, lets say, more INTJ-types we’re born in a particular month than another. Somewhere along the way of designing the experiment, I started to see that astrology was so much deeper than I had knew. It was not only personal, but collective. The factors we’re not static but could dynamically ebb and flow with time. And most of all, the factors we’re related to something real, yet mysteriously remote. So as I got into it, I realized that astrology had a foundation that was so much more fertile. I began to devour books, and read so many charts. I had such a hunger because I was being revealed something about the universe and my place in it. Even today, four or five years into it, the accuracy and synchronism of the system still amazes me.
JZ: That’s not what I expected to hear at all! But you know, now that you’re in, you’re in! And doing some really great work in the field. What’s your favorite astrological technique or area of astrological research?
LR: THIS Question! (: We’ll I’d say what is most fascinating for me is the capacity for astrology to reveal aspects about your core energetic identity. Natal interpretation and transit watching are some of my favorite things to witness. There’s nothing like the first time you witness Venus go over your ascendant and you meet a special someone right on cue. I am currently the in-house astrologer at Wanderlust Hollywood Yoga studio in Los Angeles, and I give consultations weekly. This is really fun because I love taking people from terrestrial to cosmic thinking. It’s healing.
As far as techniques that I use during readings, one of the most useful tools to use when a person has retrograde planets (I’m just finishing a phase where almost everyone I consulted with had Saturn retrograde like myself) is to progress their chart until the planet goes direct. Ask them about what happened the year that the planet went direct. Watch the results!
I’m also into non-traditional aspects like quintiles, septiles and noviles. I think harmonic charts and these odd aspects reveal the subtle, more-refined aspects of consciousness and learning. Also, I like using asteroids and newly discovered planets/TNO’s in readings. Use them! They represent newly added/acknowledged aspects of consciousness. Check out the website Serennu.com. You’ll be amazed at how much asteroids fill in a story when you are well versed with them. I kind of look at it as preparing a dish and the asteroids are the different seasonings to help you prepare multiple styles of readings.
JZ: Super quirky! I’ve had my head so focused on older astrologies that I often forget about using the newer discoveries (unless I am using future discoveries, like Fantasteroids…) But, I like the seasoning metaphor you use because it might encourage other die-hard traditonalists to consider spicing it up once in a while. Are there any other kinds of techniques you’re playing with?
LR: Yeah! Another area I’ve been fascinated with researching is the sky-chart or the natal chart of any given moment. I’ve been prototyping a watch that allows one to see moment to moment the sky chart at the convenience of your wrist. To be in tune with planetary positions as they rise, culminate and set (and as they aspect your natal positions) we can be intelligently in-tune with the sway of the moment. Watching this array of influences moment to moment deeply helps me to connect more consciously to what the planets are.
A new area I’ve found intriguing is astro-cartography. Funny story: I was introduced to it by a fellow astrologer at NORWAC. I’ve always had a feeling of wanting to visit Belize, I even once had a dream about a globe where Belize and California were the only places with names on it. As soon as I was introduced to the concept of planetary “ley-lines,” I just imagined how funny it would be if I had lines going through Belize. Turned out I had Jupiter and the North Node going right through my IC on this tiny island! I have a strong feeling that astro-cartography may be a key to finding ancestral/genetic resonance with locations around the globe.
JZ: That’s incredible! Astro-cartography was one of the first techniques I learned once I got the hang of the basics and it also blew me away. I’m so glad that’s entered your celestial vocab! We’ve got a lot more to chat about there. For now, let’s wrap this up. Tell me, is there anything I do not know about you that I should know? A favorite story about yourself that shows me who you are?
LR: Well…I think the only thing that I tend to not to tell people about is my channeling capacities. In 2013 I had what I would later find out was a Kundalini awakening. A strange yet blissful experience. A year later, immediately after I completed my first ten-day Vipassana meditation retreat, certain peculiar faculties began to open up inside of me. This time in my life pushed me to the very edge of what I understood to be possible about myself. Mentally, I’ve experienced many swings of faith regarding my abilities yet I am thankful to be learning how to trust my multidimensional sense. I know that there are many more layers for the collective to peel back regarding our conscious participation with the meta-physical intelligence upon us, but ultimately we all have a personal inner guide which above all has the best vantage point from which to directives our lives. A process began in me 2013…I know the same is happening to others out there, I am not alone in this. My advice to others (and myself) would be to cast aside our fear. Ultimately we are immortal beings with deep roots behind the unknown veils that we fear so much. Lets accept our inheritance as beings from the beyond, filled with deep knowing, inside an incredibly lucid dream.
JZ: That just gave me chills. Wow, Lonnie. Thank you so much for being willing to share that and this interview with me. I wish you continued success and look forward to collaborating with you on one of your many exciting endeavors one day soon!
Hope you enjoyed getting to know Lonnie Ro! He’s got a TON of amazing new projects to keep you busy for a while! I have to say, I’m a bit jealous of you Angelenos right now!