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About Maria

Maria Kay Simms

Variously known as astrologer, author, artist, businesswoman and Wiccan priestess, I've finally given up trying to decide which one gets major focus and am attempting to combine them all into one new little business, Starcrafts Publishing, through which I'm publishing a few books, and also greeting cards and prints made from my own paintings and those of my middle daughter, Molly Sullivan, a talented painter who was until recently proprietress of Starcrafts, a metaphysical bookshop in San Diego.  We started the store together, but then she had it on her own for nine years after I moved to New Hampshire.  She sold the store in early '06 so that she could be home with her first child, my youngest granddaughter, Reilly, but will still work with me in publishing our art.

I've created my own little "stonehenge" in the large backyard of the rural home I share with my husband, a New Hampshire business owner.  The granite boulders marking the quarters were dragged out of our forest by the operator of a backhoe, who scratched his head in amusement but gamely helped me center the east monolith right where I'd staked out Spring Equinox sunrise. This enterprise gave me a whole new and very profound appreciation for the work of the ancients!  Besides being a peaceful garden for meditation, repository for my husband's stray golf balls and a play area for the kids, the circle provides the ritual site for my Circle of the Cosmic Muse (except when thigh deep snow or driving rain drives us up to the loft of our post & beam home). Even so, after years in southern California where weather is nearly always nice, I love living where the seasons change, and where a large home can welcome family.  I'm the proud mother of three daughters and three granddaughters, and yes, I also have a large black cat.

My first commercially published book hasn't been on my list of "also by" though I listed it for the first time in my latest book, which includes some of recent paintings, and also some of Molly's.   That first book was Fashion Kit, Troubador Press 1972,  an art/design paper doll book for young girls that I did while living in San Francisco in the 70s.  There I sold paintings through 3 galleries and began studying astrology.  By the latter 70s I'd moved to Connecticut, and astrology had become prime.  A 4-year attempt to combine my interests within Mystic Arts, a metaphysical bookshop and consignment arts & crafts gallery, left me no time to either paint or do charts, so I returned to free-lancing.  In the early ‘80s I earned professional credentials as a consulting astrologer, first from American Federation of Astrologers (AFA) and then from National Council for Geocosmic Research (NCGR). 

A tenure as NCGR Board's Publications Director introduced me to graphic arts skills on the Macintosh that later led to an art job in Florida.  In 1986, ACS Publications in San Diego accepted my first astrology book, Twelve Wings of the Eagle.  I also began doing freelance cover designs for ACS, and in 1987, I moved to San Diego to become their Art Director.  Before that year was over, I'd also married ACS' owner, Neil F. Michelsen. Sadly, I was widowed in 1990.  I had to stretch a great deal to handle the job as ACS president, but somehow found time to write three more astrology books for ACS and my first Wiccan book for Llewellyn (Circle of the Cosmic Muse, 1994, later republished as The Witch's Circle, 1996).  In 1998 I sold ACS, moved to New Hampshire, and remarried. 

Although I'd been reading of Goddess spirituality for quite some time, I'd had no opportunity to actually participate in it until my years in San Diego. It was in 1988 that I first began my formal study of Wicca within an eclectic tradition of Gardnerian lineage.  After dedication and three degrees, I hived in 1991 to form Circle of the Cosmic Muse.  My circle is a National Coven affiliate of Covenant of the Goddess, and I hold credentials as clergy through CoG and also through LA Community Church of Religious Science.

Since moving to New Hampshire, I've published a second book with Llewellyn, A Time for Magick (2001) and self-published an expanded second edition of my Dial Detective  (also 2001). I served as the elected Chair of National Council for Geocosmic Research, Inc. (NCGR), 1999-2004, and now serve on the organization's Advisory Board. I am also a member of Association for Professional Astrologers International (APAI), International Society for Astrological Research (ISAR) and Association for Astrological Networking (AFAN).

Since 2000, for the first time since the late ‘80s, I've been painting in oils again, and I'm enjoying it immensely.  I've joined the local Seacoast Art Association, and through it, have begun to exhibit my paintings locally.  You can see galleries of my recent work exploring the sacred feminine, and also Molly's beautiful Goddess paintings on my website.

In 2004, I decided, after disagreement with my intended publisher that my new book on the Moon and her phases could be successfully marketed to both astrologers and to Wiccans, I decided to publish the book myself and do it according to my own preference. So, I formed a business identity in New Hampshire as Starcrafts LLC.  Through Starcrafts Publishing I first published my book and software combo, Moon Tides, Soul Passages.  I am gratified that, after initially receiving very favorable reviews in astrology publications, the book is now also receiving great commentary from Wiccan/Pagan reviewers.  I did the first edition as a print-on-demand, and after a test of how well it would do, I've now published a 2nd edition in a larger press run. 

My decision to "do it myself" in publishing "Moon Tides" has subjected me to a major learning curve in regaining my very rusty skills on graphic design and layout programs that I hadn't used for so long that the software programs had changed drastically.  I'm very glad now that I have regained those skills.  In November 2006, I'm excited and proud to say that my little publishing company will be releasing a book that honors the primary legacy of Neil F. Michelsen. And, I'm hoping that a least some of you reading this are also interested in astrology!

The New American Ephemeris for the 21st Century, 2000-2100 at Midnight, Michelsen Memorial Edition is programmed by Rique Pottenger, based on Neil's earlier work.  It will have a Dedication page and several pages of commemorative text that I've compiled from excerpts of Neil's own writing plus testimonials from colleagues.  Rique and I had a rather frustrating wait for the International Astronomer's Union wind up its controversial decisions on redefining planets,  that meant, for us and Goddess only knows how many other publishers, go through  at least three different revisions as new information was announced.  But, better that the vote came BEFORE publication than just after!  The new ephemeris will retain Pluto, of course—astrologers will never give up Pluto!  Ceres has been added to a daily longitude column between Mars and Jupiter, and the new planet beyond the orbit of Pluto, named Eris for the Goddess of Discord and Chaos (what a concept!).  Her position changes only a few minutes, per month, so she has been added to the listings of once-per-month positions, along with an improved calculation for Galactic Center, Chiron, and asteroids Pallas, Juno and Vesta. 

One thing I really like about the IAU changes is that the Goddesses of the planets are gaining in the archaic and patriarchal 2000+ years ago decision to name only Moon and Venus against Sun and seven god-named planets.    Welcome Ceres and Eris!    See my article about this on my website, http://starcraftspublishing.com/

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