Making the Intangible Tangible
An interview with occult jeweler Janet Goodspeed
This week, I released a class on the Lord of Divination, or using your natal chart to unlock your divinatory potential. In this lecture, I walk you through how your rising element (fire, water, earth and air) and Third Triplicity Lord of the 9th shapes your divinatory style as well as how to embody
Divination is more than just predicting the future. It’s infusing spirit into your artwork. It’s performing a ritual before taking medicine. It’s the tiny voice of insight that unlocks a problem your mind has been working on for ages. This is for anyone who wants to connect the seen and unseen, heaven and earth, body and soul, in their life.
If you want to learn more, become a paid subscriber and check out my article on the Lord of Divination as well. You can also find out more about bridging the seen and the unseen, the physical and spiritual, in my latest newsletter on Mercury and the Soul. This essay is just the beginning of a series on these concepts that is meant to help us connect to our divine purpose right here and now.
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Now, without further ado please enjoy Recent Bedroom’s latest interview installment with Janet Goodspeed, creator of Goodsigil a handmade tarot and astrology jewlery business. Here we talk the moon and making the intangible tangible, astro-gemology, being a working artist, sharing your art with the world and how to begin making talismans by just starting where you are.
Janet also recently launched a Kickstarter for a series of gorgeous planetary signet rings that any astro-nerd should be sure not to miss! Learn more about Janet’s process, rich background and her newest offering in the interview below.
And support! her! Kickstarter!
Tell us what what you're about and what you what you do.
My name is Janet Goodspeed. I am an astrologer, though I'm not a professional consulting astrologer. I've been reading tarot cards for 20-plus years and I am a jeweler, trained silversmith, goldsmith and I'm a gemologist. I have a diploma in gemology. I'm a fellow of the Canadian gemological Association.
Tell me about gemology.
I went to school for jewelry. This was right before my Saturn Return started. I remember it was funny when I was going to go to jewelry school I was seeing this therapist and she was kind of an astrology person. And she was like, “When are you going to graduate from this program?” And it was like, right at the end of my Saturn Return. And she was like, “Oh, that's good. That'll be perfect” and it really was. So right around that time, I graduated from the jewelry program. And then I had the opportunity to challenge the exams to go do gemology through the same school. And I've always been a crystal freak ever since I was a little kid. I've collected rocks, I literally have the first piece of amethyst I've ever got from when I was like five years old.
And so I was like, of course, I'm gonna challenge this exam because it just felt right. Even though I had some misgivings about the industry. With any industry, once you get deep enough into it, you see the back end and you you think, okay, well, all of this stuff is mined from the earth, right? So how do we do that, ethically, with all of these challenges about our interconnected global world that give me depression and make my head swim with all of the implications. Anyways, I did it on a whim, I challenged this exam, and then I got a really good mark. And even though I was already in an incredible amount of debt, I decided to take out a loan and do the program. And I was like, “What am I going to do with this?” I'm never going to be a geologist. I'm not going to work in a lab. But it's seven years since my Saturn Return, so I’m in my Saturn square, and now I'm teaching in that same program teaching gemology.
So beautiful full circle. What's really striking to me is it sounds like from the beginning, tarot and astrology have been least been tangentially related to your work. And so I'm curious about what your journey has been with those disciplines before they dovetailed with gemology.
So I started getting into tarot and astrology when I was a teenager. I was raised as a Jehovah's Witness and my family left when I was a teenager. So when I was about 15, 16, I stopped attending the witnesses meetings, and around that time my mom took me to a psychic fair and was like to pick anything you want, get your aura done, get a reading and I just immediately gravitated towards a Rider Waite tarot deck. And so she got that for me and a book. That really opened the floodgates because I already spent a lot of time at the public library, but then I had a new section of the library to take every book out of.
Every tarot and astrology book came home to my little basement teenage bedroom. I just spent so much time poring over that stuff and looking at all of my family's charts. At that point, I also started reading tarot a lot for friends and for strangers. And that kind of became my thing. I think everyone who's ever met me is like, oh, yeah, Janet’s a witchy tarot person. Although I never really claimed that title for myself, it's always been something that someone has given me. Astrology and tarot have always been present in my life since then. And then I ended up at art school again in my late 20s and didn't know what I was doing with my life. I had gone through a big breakup. I was in this fine art program and met a goldsmith from Switzerland, and she was like, you should learn how to make jewelry. So that was the next random occurrence.
So I notice the theme of intuition, and happenstance.
Yeah, I'm not afraid to act on those things at all. When I get a powerful hit my body leads me to do the thing that I need to do. I think having a lot of Cardinal energy in my chart really helps with that, too.
Especially and with your Moon in Cancer in the first house that translates into making the intangible very tangible with your jewelry-making.
When you say that, making the intangible tangible, it just makes me think about the different processes that are used in jewelry making and how it's deeply alchemical, right? To make a sterling silver ring from scratch, you're literally melting pure silver and copper together with fire and you use like a borax flux to make sure it flows which is this vitreous powder. You also have a crucible, so it's literally like you're an alchemist in the lab, making crazy magic happen. The flame turns green. It's so cool. So cool. So once I got my hands on those tools and processes, I was just like, you can't ever stop me from doing this. It's too much fun. And that's part of making the intangible tangible; there's many, many steps along the way and a lot of things to learn and a lot of mistakes to make, but it's not even the finished product for me. It has so much to do with the in-between. It's like what you spend your actual time on in-between is the meat
Can you flesh that process out for us?
One of the techniques I use a lot is lost wax casting. From a technical standpoint, you're usually doing a carving out of wax and then you have to create a mold. During that molding process, you literally burn the wax away, so there is a point in time in the process where the thing does n
ot exist, only the negative of the thing exists. And I love that that's such a potent metaphor for that intangible to tangible process because you have to destroy the thing to have it actually become flesh or become matter.
So beautiful. I think that speaks from what I know of you so well. The intangible is not just living up here, it completely informs what is ensouled. So I first heard of your work through your tarot pendants. I'm curious when that started.
Basically, as soon as I was in jewelry school, I was like, Oh, this is what I have to do. I had these designs, half-made or sitting in my sketchbook for years and years and years. It wasn't until the pandemic that I actually had enough space in my life, because I was suddenly significantly less employed. That was when I finally had that space and time to make that project come alive. But it was something that was in my mind for a long time. I've always wanted to create a tarot deck since I was a teenager and started reading cards. This is actually a way for me to do that. But it also becomes a talisman, for lack of a better term, for people to wear. I'm almost finished with the Major Arcana of the Tarot pendants. Once I've finished the majors, I might actually sit down and make the whole deck because I'm also a 2-D artist.
You also released a Venus and Jupiter medallion series that was lightly elected as well. How did that come about?
I'm too curious. And I'm too empowered by the skills, the jewelry making skills that I have, to not make even though I'm not like an electional wizard. I know enough about elections and astrology and I know enough people who share good elections. Nina Gryphon was where I got those from. It’s so impossible for me to stop myself from doing that. Part of what I've been doing over the past year, is developing planetary devotional relationships, like every planet every day. I'm like, Okay, today's Mercury's day when we're talking and so I find a dime on the ground. That's for Mercury. I got some mail. And it was something very mercurial so that process of being engaged with life and timing through astrology and correspondences. I have no fear when it comes to doing like a talismanic ritual. That practice of observation, and gentle, loving interaction with how the planets show up in our life is so warm and comforting and supportive to me, it's like a homecoming, you know? I can't help myself and hopefully, they'll get really good. It's, it's fun to make them at this beginning stage because you can experiment.
I appreciate that childlike relationship. That's helpful for me because stone talismanic work seems so intimidating, like cutting into matter and shaping it in this very permanent way.
I'm totally empowered to do that because I literally just have a drawer full of cabochons and because I've been collecting for years, and I'm a gemologist, so I know how hard things are. I'm not going to go in on a sapphire without a diamond burr because it's just not gonna work. So I have the knowledge and there's different parts of my knowledge and experience that are catching up to other parts. I'm definitely very much a noob. I'm an amateur in every possible way, even with jewelry because, I've been doing it for about seven years. It takes a lot longer than seven years to get really good at something. I just learned best by doing so why not share that process with people? And, like you said, it helps other people feel more empowered. I'm not a super cool person.1 I'm just a total weirdo. I just have finally hit on the thing that gets me really lit up. It's super fun to share that with people.
You brought up something that I was also thinking about, which is that having this foundation in something so tangible as literal rocks is such a grounding presence for your astrology practice.
Okay, you asked me what gemology is and I never even really explained. It is the study of the optical properties of gemstones, essentially. It's not geology, though you do have to have some geological understanding. That's why diamonds are so sparkly, is because they have this particular type of way of interacting with light. Over many, many years humans have figured out how to cut them so that that light sparkles in a way that's really pleasing. Even just that little tidbit is so cool because of diamond’s relationship with the Sun or with Venus. Having all of the different knowledge of different gemstones is like a fun way of tying the planets back into my daily work. When I'm teaching at the college, it's not necessarily super exciting and fun, but yesterday, I got to look at many, many emeralds and sapphires because I'm creating a quiz for the students to pick them out and make sure that they can see the properties through the microscope and the different equipment. It's cool to think of the stones and how they manifest those planetary properties in terms of their correspondences.
Is there like one stone right now in particular that you feel a close relationship to? And what is that like?
I have a few stones that I'm quite attracted to, but really, the big one is quartz. Quartz is so ubiquitous and I love the association of quartz to the moon. That's usually rock crystal or clear quartz, but quartz is silica. And silica is the basis of many, many different minerals. For instance, carnelian, which we would connect to Venus, or Mars through different texts, is a type of agate, right? It's colored by the iron and agate is just cryptocrystalline quartz. It's interesting to see the moon as the translator of light, even though most people don't know that carnelian is just another form of quartz, that just blows my mind. It's so cool. Same with Opal. Opal is a stone we would associate with with Mercury because of the multicolored effect. Opal is so cool because it's these little balls of silica and the way that it forms is so weird, but it's essentially like a quartz derivative, because it's basically like the silica product. It's another lens with which to look at the planets and correspondences and the things we interact with on a daily basis.
And do you find that keeping certain stones around affects the field around you?
My house is full of crystals. I had to stop buying crystals at one point because you have to stop, there's too many. That's a hard thing to say, because I spend a lot of time in my house constantly inundated by all the crystals. I will say that I have always had an intuitive relationship with stones like that was how it all started. You know, you go to the beach, and you're like, Oh, I'm going to look for pretty stones and you are attracted to one and then that's the one you pick up and put in your pocket. I think everybody has that ability to sense the thing that they are attracted to and that might be the thing that they need. I would also go into metaphysical shops and crystal stores and walk around and touch some things. I'll do a full pass. And then at the end, we'll be like, okay, it was that one. And I'll go back and get the one little weird, cute pebble and that's what I take home with me.
Hell yeah, that's a kind of leading into my next question, which is, do you have any tips for people who want to get into gemology or talisman making?
One thing that's cool is there's so much available that's inexpensive. You don't have to get the most expensive, fancy ruby. Get what is affordable for you. And if you can figure out on the old Google machine where there might be places that you can rock hound in your area, I would recommend rivers, eluvial deposits, because there's lots of places where you can find aggregates depending on where you live. That's where I would start, just like with anything else. Instead of ordering Palo Santo, which doesn't grow in my land base. Why would I burn that as a sacred smoke? Why don't I take the dill that's growing in my garden and burn that? I'm always going to recommend to what has the least environmental impact. I think it has a lot more meaning and depth and actually enhances relationship-building with your land base, and therefore, the plants and the spirits of the place that you live by being gently engaging with the stuff that shows up in your life. Even if you're walking down the street past a construction zone and you find a cool piece of concrete or brick you like, that's already got something good for you.
I like that. Because it's like the idea of talismans is somehow ensouling the intangible around you and so, in some ways, paying it forward to those forces. It's already a part of your process. So tell me what led you to your current project with the planetary rings.
It was an idea I had swimming around in for a while. I love signet rings and signet rings are very cool because they a relationship to ancient talismans because of the history of stone carving and setting intaglio stone. If you look online for an antique talisman, you'll see a lot of intaglio carnelian and amethyst stuff. I wish I could do a whole collection like that, but I'm not that skilled. I love that it's another little flat face to put an image on.
I teach these weekend workshops where people can carve a little wax ring during this three-four hour class. I take the rings that everybody makes out of wax and I cast them and polish them up and people get pieces back after a couple of weeks. It was a buddy from Astro Twitter actually who attended one of my classes and made a ring with the Juno symbol for the asteroid Juno, which is like the little star with a cross below it. I think their dog is named Juno, which is pretty cute. And then I was like, I should make these and then I made a series one for myself because Ceres is conjunct my ascendant. But it wasn't perfect, so I haven't really worn it very much. And then I made a Saturn one. But again, it wasn't perfect. So I was workshopping the idea and then someone else took my class and made a Mercury ring. And I was like, I should just make these because I think people will really like them. And that's what I'm doing.
Beautiful. So you're doing a series of rings, featuring each of the symbols for each of the seven planets. Is there any sort of elections involved or in what sense are they talismans?
I wouldn't call them talismans because I'm not going to consecrate them. They're not going to be made at a particular time. I'll produce them like I would any other non-magical jewelry, which is to say none of the jewelry I make is non-magical. It's all magical because I make it. No, they won't be talismans, but they could be made into talismans by someone. I think that's what's cool about the talisman making thing too, you don't have to learn how to make jewelry. You can buy jewelry, and then make it into a talisman by doing your ritual and this fumigation and even if you just have the little stylus, you can put the image on there.
You don't have to learn how to solder and set stones and you can just get something you like and turn it into a talisman if you have a good election.
So you are starting a Kickstarter to support that this project?
Yes, Kickstarter is cool. This October, they're doing a thing that they've never done before called Witchstarter, where they've realized that they have this huge contingent of tarot deck creators and other witchy makers who use Kickstarter to launch their projects. They're creating this zone for all of the esoteric weirdos on Kickstarter. So I was like, I might as well do it during October. It's gonna be fun because I'm also learning a new skill. I'm starting lessons in computer assisted design for jewelry (CAD). I've made all the prototypes for this collection by hand. But they're not perfectly symmetrical enough for me, so I'm going to do it with CAD.
That's why I'm doing the Kickstarter because it's going to help me learn this new process and I can share my work with people that keep me accountable. And then, sometime next year, everybody will have cool friendship rings.
So people can purchase the rings through supporting the Kickstarter?
Basically, there will be several different tiers. I'll have some for people who don't want a ring or don't wear jewelry, or are not financially able to support in that way. There'll be some smaller rewards like little enamel pins and t-shirts. Then the rewards will be the rings. There'll be a plain version with just the glyph and then there'll be a version that has a corresponding gemstone.
Do you know any of those gemstones yet?
I'm trying to source them but they're pretty supported by the texts. Venus will be aquamarine, and Jupiter will be amethyst. I might have to divert a little bit from the traditional because for instance, having a pearl for the Moon in a ring can be done. But the pearl is not super long wearing. So I'm looking at different options for the moon, specifically. That should be pretty cool. The deluxe reward is custom project, where you can do a whole custom-designed ring with me. That opens up the door to a lot of possibilities.
What sort of person do you think would really benefit from these beautiful rings?
I mean, I plan to wear one. I'm lucky because I make them so I can probably have one for every day of the week.
Like underwear, but classier
I'll probably end up wearing a Moon ring because I'm such a Cancer rising bitch. I think it's a cool way for people to rep their rising sign planetary ruler. I like the idea of turning the Zodiac jewelry on its head where you see the guy on the bus with a Scorpio tattoo. That is so cool. I'm totally into that. But the rings are more for the traditional astrology cohort because we know it's all about the planets. It's not just all about the signs. It's all about the planets. So the assumption is that it’s astrology people who are into it. So hopefully they find me.
Is there something outside of astrology that is currently bringing you joy right now?
I mean, I'm full of joy. I'm just incredibly grateful that I'm precariously able to pursue this project as well as just live my life as an artist. It's not my only job, but I took a big risk last last year to take some time off from my full time job to be able to do this. I just feel like I get a lot of joy from walking around and talking to flowers. I get a lot of joy just from the wider community that I've come into contact with through making these things that are, you know, sort of frivolous? It's always weird when you make something that isn't a necessity and I think astrologers understand that because you're offering a service that people don't need per se. But it has so much value, being able to share your art with people whether it's your service as an astrologer, or your art as an artist. It's so incredible. So just being able to do what I do brings me a lot of joy. And the thing that makes me feel the most myself is walking around my neighborhood, or even a new city. I haven't traveled in a while but walking around my neighborhood and talking to the plants. Like I will stop and tell a rosebush how beautiful they are. It's so fun. Plants have so much to give us.
So for now I leave you these two quotes that have been rattling around in my mind and I believe are related:
How are you embodying the gods this week? Let me know in the comments below 🏛️
Until next week, my loves.