Gemini New Moon Mandala painted by Sarah Berry
Line Mandala from Mandala Colouring Book by Barry Stevens
available at

This is the seventh piece in an occasional series written about the expertise of each Sun Sign. I am still looking for the Capricorn who can write a guide to Ambition, and a Libran who can write a guide to Relationships. If you think you are the person I am looking for, please get in touch. Or alternatively if you should know the ideal person. The articles will be found under the category “Zodiac Masterclass” so that eventually there will be 12 such articles, e.g. “The Cancerian Guide to Parenting”, “The Gemini Guide to Communication”,”The Leo Guide to Leadership” etc. Each article will be written by someone who has the Sun Sign in question.

Here guest blogger Janet Leng writes about Gemini as teacher. Janet is a schoolfriend, and also happens to have been born 3 days before my husband in the same year, so I have been able to track their astrological parallels over the years, e.g. my husband is also a teacher. The blog was written under the aegis of a “writing” aspect: Venus sextile Mercury.

Two other fascinating facts about Janet: In the late 60s she negotiated her own dual degree course (Biology and Language) which was unheard of in those days, and the subjects reflect Gemini very well. The other fascinating fact is that she is a competition champ: her Gemini mental agility, which she demonstrates in this guest blog, has seen her through life manifesting what she needed by winning the relevant competitions. Another fact (possibly only fascinating to me) is that she introduced me to mandalas.

A word about the mandala: It is orange, which is in the portion of the colour spectrum I associate with Gemini, and that is uncomplicated. But, maybe due to the fact that it was painted on last’s year’s Gemini New Moon Eclipse, it has led us a merry dance to get it here. The paper the watercolour was applied to was the crinkliest of all the mandalas, and eventually, after many efforts including an unsuccessful repainting, we obtained a photograph of it which might work. A slippery Quicksilver Geminian customer, if every there was one. And it was painted by Geminian Sarah on her birthday. Do let us know if you have any unusual experiences with this mandala. Some background history: this line drawing from Barry’s colouring book was based on an early ‘70s line mandala inspired partly by cruciform mandalas found in churches, drawn at a time before he was painting mandalas, so it was not painted.

Revolving Doors, or “The Gemini Guide to Communication and Teaching”

by Janet Leng

I love being a Gemini. It’s a life of few disappointments . Who could stay miserable for long when lost opportunities simply bring the freedom to look for the next open door and when you can wonder what you’ll be when you grow up – right to the very end. You probably haven’t built up a huge pension pot but you’ll be rich in experience and boredom will be a foreign word. You might have to keep on working past retirement – but who wants to pass up all those new experiences just waiting for you out there on the horizon.

So, where does this Masterclass start? It probably starts out on the Somerset Peat Moors where I had a fixed term contract as Field Archaeologist on the Somerset levels , living in an isolated cottage with only the owls, the buzzards, the shrews, rats and weasels for company in the midst of the peat fields. Now this, I have to admit, remains my dream job but notice I said “fixed term” so the dream couldn’t go on.

Instead of moping I thought to myself “What would I like to do next?” The answer was “I’d like to go and live in a Moslem country.. Somewhere the very opposite of the Somerset Levels. Just to see what it’s like. Now how can I do that?” It wasn’t difficult to find myself on a TEFL training course through International House leading to a placement in noisy, busy, exuberant Cairo.

I can’t say I had any great wish to be a teacher having fallen into it in true Gemini fashion via the quest for change and new experiences . But once I was in Egypt I loved it. It wasn’t the subject and wasn’t the syllabus or the work per se. As with all my future drifting in and out of teaching, I couldn’t pretend to have any great passion for the subject . It was the people who mattered. I’ve never been able to stand up and spout in front of a class but running an interactive , mutually beneficial learning process is one of the most fulfilling things you could wish for. And in Cairo, I felt I learned more than I taught.

Back in York some years later, as a single parent, I needed to find a way to support myself and my four old daughter. Once again I thought “Now how can I do this?” and once again I fell into teaching, taking a PGCE Secondary level. I can not claim any lofty ideals. The grant I received was more than I’d been earning in part time work and the timetable fitted in with my daughter’s school times and holidays.

Once again I could not pretend any great passion for the subjects I took. Unsurprisingly I gravitated into special education where on and off over the years I’ve worked in the old style sin bins (the class of naughty boys), autism units, and become deeply involved with pupils with profound and multiple learning disabilities and those with severe physical disabilities.

I loved them all. You might think that a Gemini driven by the need for communication and mental agility would find such work frustrating or even boring but that never happened. In fact it was the reverse. The more disabled children are, the more locked up in their own little words, the more sensitive you can become to them . You become aware of such tiny little things and tiny little changes that communication occurs at a very deep and satisfying level. And in York, as in Cairo, I felt I had learned much much more than I taught.

This type of work is also physically exhausting. Heavy wheelchairs, children who cannot move their own bodies; a constant need to be fully alert to every little thing going on, alert to any sign of physical distress in a child, alert to signs of imminent seizures …. It isn’t a job for the feeble but I got to the point where the physicality was too great for me and my own health was being compromised.

The thought of going back into mainstream education was horrific. Children in mainstream these days don’t really NEED you. There is none of the deep communication and the strong relationships between teacher and pupil. The possibility of relationships with your class are minimised by the day to day struggles with discipline and order. No self respecting Gemini has any interest in imposing restraints, discipline and order!

I still had no great drive to change the world or pass on love for any particular subject – so what next? How would I find new excitements and new paths?

I had done some casual spells of work for a training company as an instructor in business English delivering individualised one to one courses to business people from abroad. I could only handle short bursts of this of I would have died mentally and emotionally. Despite the need for building good relationships in one to one training, a clientele of largely workaholic Germans from Deutsche bank and VW, left me feeling as if in a straight jacket. It certainly wasn’t the same two way enlivening process as in special education and going down this route permanently was never an option . Sadly I did not feel I learned more than I taught in this post HOWEVER I heard that another of their trading arms was developing BTEC courses within the Kuwaiti oil industry.

A little flash of inspiration hit me and I went to see the boss, suggesting that if he included me in the Edexcel training for BTEC assessing procedures, I would be ready and available if he needed to send anyone out to Kuwait at short notice. And that’s exactly what happened. I had the training. Two weeks later whilst visiting in Manchester I got a call on a Sunday – could I fly out on the Tuesday? Could I? Of course I could.

And that is how at the age of fifty six I considered myself very fortunate to set off on a new adventure. The revolving door spun and I was back in the Middle East.

Here at last I did feel a greater connection with the subject matter had to deliver training in essential soft skills such as Interpersonal Skills, Team Building and Team Working (and many more) , to groups of very bright young Kuwaiti s on the graduate development programme and in addition provide continuing professional development courses to larger groups of older employees from right across the oil industry .

Can you imagine, there I was in the training centre in the middle of the desert, arthritis vanished, working within a very strict Islamic culture with employees at every level, engineers, geologists, doctors, nurses, lawyers, refinery workers, firemen, storemen, IT specialists, from the highly educated with their doctorates to the teams of very young and very wild Bedu tribesmen. Heaven!

Yes it was heaven although at the beginning I was faced with the daunting sight of a formal U shaped room set up, tables covered in starched white cloths Realising this was another potential Gemini straight jacket I soon sought the biggest rooms available and had the room attendants arrange tables cafe style so I could waft around the room at will, put the trainees into teams, constantly shuffling them into new teams for every task.

In this job I’ve had the freedom to the present the training in my own way, almost 100% interactively and fun! NO death by Powerpoint here but lots of physical activity in the kinaesthetic learning style I prefer.

How lucky I was to spend a part of my working life surrounded by lively, responsive young Arabs, absorbing their mental and intellectual energies. To say I felt it kept me feeling youthful is an understatement. In a desert culture with a strong oral tradition, the relationship is everything . And so it was in Kuwait that I felt I learned one thousand times what I taught.

Now we are up to May 2012. I’ve spent the last six years leading a double life. Very Gemini! I compare it to walking through C.S. Lewis’s wardrobe into another world and then back again four or five times per year. Some might find that disorientating but not a Gemini.

Sadly, my company doesn’t have any Kuwaiti contracts at the moment . I could moan and complain about the loss of my other life in the Gulf but I won’t. I don’t feel I am done with Kuwait just yet and anyway the lack of work gives me the freedom to accept just about anything else that comes my way.

So there we have it: a life of travel, communication, never standing still and spinning that ever revolving door.

I wonder what’s next?