Boulder used to be a lot more “woo woo,” says Natha Campanella, 45, a local full-time astrologer and intuitive coach who grew up here. Many long-timers echo this sentiment.
“Now it’s gotten watered down,” she says; but in the early 1980s, Boulder was thriving on the cutting-edge of spirituality; inter-personal work combining psychology and spirituality was still very much on the fringe.
Boulder became an epicenter of spirituality, whose roots remain today in religious and spiritual organizations of all types and sizes, ranging from Tibetan and Zen Buddhism, to a nature-infused breed at the StarHouse, to Boulder’s iconic Buddhism-focused university Naropa.
One of Natha’s first introductions to a more structured spiritual community came through her father David Yoder. David moved to Boulder on its spiritual pull from Oklahoma in 1969, and would later join a group studying the Diamond Approach, which combined psychology and spirituality, taught out of Boulder’s branch of the Ridhwan Foundation.
In Boulder’s wild spiritual 70s and 80s, many stores on Pearl Street Mall were still boarded up, but tons of life was happening around CU, especially The Hill. Timothy Leary, Harvard psychologist known for inventing and promoting LSD, came to speak at CU’s Mackey Auditorium, and David attended. Boulder was eye-opening.
At that time, Boulder had already welcomed Chogyam Trungpa, student of Dalai Lama from when Dalai Lama fled Tibet for India, which trickled down to the founding of Naropa, which happened summer of 1974.
That summer, David remembers, the group that became Naropa held an event where the time’s “hot-shot” psychologists came to speak, such as Baba Ram Dass, a Harvard colleague of Tim Leary. People from all over the world came to listen.
“It was really an old west kind of town,” David remembers. “There were people from Afghanistan selling hash and trinkets and statues and all kinds of stuff, in the parking lot of Alfalfa’s … All these kids being born.” (Including Elephant Journal’s founder Waylon Lewis).
Boulder’s spiritual legacy continues
Natha continues Boulder’s and her family’s spiritual legacy as a professional astrologer, first incorporated the stars into her life coaching business in 2014, and shifting gears to focus purely on astrology in 2017.
“I realized that with life coaching, I’m stuck with whatever clients would share with me,” says Natha. “With astrology I can dive right in and say, ‘look here — this chart suggests …’ and immediately people start opening up about those things.”
Natha does basic natal (birth) chart readings, solar return (birthday) readings, relationship and child readings, and also offers monthly memberships to her resources, mini-courses, full-length courses and an astrology apprenticeship. She keeps her weekly readings to six, since diving into others’ lives and their energy can be draining.
Aside from the energetic elements, one challenge as a professional astrologer included actually building a business in the healing arts — the balance of the empathic, emotional and intuitive sides with the real world aspects of having systems and making money.
Alyssa Neill, local holistic dietician, first met Natha at a Boulder full moon circle Alyssa hosted.
The way Natha combined “the logical intelligence of astrology with some of the harder-to-grasp esoteric elements” resonated with Alyssa, who also practices Human Design, a combination of various traditions including astrology, the I Ching, Kabbalah and more, and often has to explain astrology’s fuzzier concepts to skeptics.
Working with Natha, Alyssa began to see things about herself in a new way and understand how the archetypal energies affect her — in some ways, making individual traits less personal and helping her see them more fully.
As many know, astrology — not to be confused with the branch of science known as astronomy — uses stars and planets, and their associated archetypes, to help people better understand themselves.
You’ve likely heard that Pisces are dreamy space cadets, or Aquarians think outside the box and will emotionally cold-shoulder you. Sometimes these stereotypes resonate but often cause many to roll their eyes, largely because these snapshots get presented out of context.
To Natha, the stars provide the systems through which to analyze her clients’ personalities and tendencies and help her to guide clients in spiritual and emotional ways.
Though Natha grew up with spiritual parents, she didn’t fully immerse herself in the healing arts until her 30s, first running a metalsmithing and jewelry design business where she combined gemstones with intentional “power words” to create amulets for people.
Realizing selling a product didn’t feel aligned anymore, she switched gears and obtained a life coaching certification to work with people one-on-one, and the rest is history.
Header Image: Natha Campanella. Image: Rebecca Caridad.