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Meet the Astrology + Plants Team: Juliana McCarthy and Emily McDonald

March 06, 2019

Meet the Astrology + Plants Team: Juliana McCarthy and Emily McDonald

Emily McDonald


Tell us and our community a little bit about yourself!

I enjoy thinking of myself as a modern day Renaissance woman. My interests are multidisciplinary and vast. My formal academic training is in Western Medicine, I earned my medical degree from SUNY Downstate in Brooklyn, and studied Developmental Biology at Swarthmore College. I also studied Medical Ethics through Narrative Medicine and at Clarkson University’s Bioethics Master’s Program. I currently own and operate Chrysalis (www.chrysalisholistic.com), a community space on the North Fork of Long Island, where I blend my traditional medical training with herbalism, astrology, and energy medicine. My services are geared towards developing skills and tools for reprogramming energetic patterns. I help people explore their wholeness and create plans for accepting and overcoming challenges and limitations.


How did you come to Astrology?

I’ve been interested in astrology since my teenage years but did not start working with medical astrology until several years ago. I had been searching for holistic ways to understand the universe, life, and people for as long as I can remember, which is one of the reasons I became a doctor. The practice of astrology has become a holy grail for me. Part of my discontent with health care is that the spirit and soul are removed from the equation. Astrology firmly centers the experience of the soul and honors the wisdom of spirit.


How did you develop the Astrology + Plants concept?

Juliana and I were walking with our pups along a majestic stretch of beach when we found ourselves immersed in conversation about the role of herbs in balancing energies through planetary transits. I leapt at the opportunity to collaborate with her on the Astro-Herbal calendar. Integrating holistic modalities is the most powerful healing for me, and I was eager to share my experiences with a new community.


How do you see plants playing a role in your life?

Plants are my spiritual guides. I call on them daily to give me strength and clarity. They have illuminated so many aspects of living harmoniously and authentically. They nourish my physical body, ameliorate my emotional pains, and pacify my mind so that I can be more attuned to my soul and spirit.


What's your sign?

Capricorn Sun and Leo Moon. Cardinal Earth and Fixed Fire.


How do you see alchemy and transformation in your own life?

I’ve been able to appreciate change as a constant which has helped me open to possibilities that seem unconventional (which is a challenge to my Capricorn Sun!). Alchemy has helped me understand fundamental elements of the universe so that I can recognize previously unrelated patterns as important soul lessons for this lifetime.


How do you recommend people learn more about astrology?

Juliana’s book The Stars Within You: A Modern Guide to Astrology! Print out a copy of your birth chart, make some tea, and cozy up with The Stars Within You. Be ready connect with your essential truths more fully than ever. No matter how difficult circumstances might be, the lessons of the planets and plants is that we the people have the power within to heal the  deepest of wounds.


Dr. Emily Anne McDonald, MD is the founder of Chrysalis Holistic Healing. She is a graduate of SUNY Downstate College of Medicine and Swarthmore College. She has published in peer-reviewed journals, presented at academic conferences, co-managed a non-profit medical clinic for individuals without health insurance, organized large scale interdisciplinary events, delivered more than 100 newborns, cared for thousands of patients through the hospital system, and most recently, opened Chrysalis - a space to integrate her many passions in service of all beings. She blends her traditional medical training with herbalism, astrology, and energy medicine, and works with energy through the psyche, the subtle body, and the physical body. Her services are geared towards developing skills and tools for reprogramming energetic patterns. She helps people explore all aspects of wholeness to create a sustainable plan for accepting and overcoming challenges and limitations.


Juliana McCarthy


Tell us and our community a little bit about yourself!

I’m an astrologer and energy healer, and recently moved to Topanga, California, where I’m now based. My spiritual background is Tibetan Buddhism, and I even lived in a retreat center in Vermont for over a year, which was quasi-monastic. I’ve been a channeler since I was a kid, and I spent most of my twenties developing the maturity and practice to be able to work with my abilities and sensitivities. I love nothing more than helping people connect with their own wisdom and potentials and understand their gifts and struggles. This way, we can find meaning and live more fulfilled lives. I feel honored every time I work with someone that I have a window into their highest self and their particular energies, heart, and profundity.


How did you come to Astrology?

When I was eighteen, I was very shy and felt like an alien. Someone gave me an astrology book, and it felt like a key and a portal to understanding humans—and even myself—in a way I never thought possible. It's this logical system to explain illogical human complexity. I became obsessed, and years later, when I moved to Boulder, Colorado, I ended up studying formally with a brilliant teacher, Kelly Lee Phipps. He’s since died.


How did you develop the Astrology + Plants concept?

I worked with medical astrologer Emily McDonald, who’s also a friend and a client. We wanted to give people herbal remedies and suggestions that support us during major planetary shifts. I love the connection between heaven and earth, the cosmos and nature. I feel like that’s the ultimate experience as humans, to blend those two—to be fully rooted to the Earth, with our crowns open to vastness. This calendar is a practical tool that facilitates that connection, harmonizing our body, mind, and spirit.


How do you see plants playing a role in your life?

Plant medicines and herbal remedies have been hugely instrumental in my life. They’ve been healing and supportive, allowing for huge breakthroughs in my understanding and in my physical body. They’ve even helped me let go of misconceptions that limit my ability to be present, healthy, and whole. Humans evolved alongside plant medicines and mushrooms, and it makes perfect sense that as we prepare to enter the new paradigm in 2020, we’re calling back the wisdom of plants and restoring our relationship to them


What's your sign?

I’m a Virgo with an Aquarius Moon! A cosmic nerd :-) Visionary, eccentric, devoted, and detail-oriented.


How do you see alchemy and transformation in your own life?

I find that my struggles become my biggest gifts. Obstacles end up being my greatest trigger of growth spurts. Whatever I can do to relax and embrace my emotions, feeling all that arises—this is when real alchemy and transformation come. All of our feelings allow access to wisdom, as long as we don’t repress them or ramp them up with stories we’ve spun. Most people don’t realize this, but genuine emotion only lasts 2.5 minutes! So the trick is to allow them full expression, without exaggeration or exacerbation. Sometimes emotions get stuck in our bodies, and this is where disease comes from. Plants can be so helpful in encouraging their release. I really feel the spirits of plants. They’re like little angels or guides that help us connect to the ultimate realm of oneness as humans.


How do you recommend people learn more about astrology?

Read my book! It’s the introduction to astrology I always wished existed but never did. It’s called, The Stars Within You: A Modern Guide to Astrology (etherealculture.com/thestarswithinyou). From there, read as many natal charts as you can, particularly of people who you know really well. This begins to makes sense of the archetypes so you become more fluent in the language. Astrology is just so helpful. It brings such self-awareness and reveals our purpose and our sources of joy and contentment. I highly recommend getting into it!


For almost twenty years, Juliana McCarthy has been studying and practicing Western Astrology, finding it to be a powerful tool for self-exploration and examining how we relate to others. She loves working with people to help them understand their authentic selves—their complexities, gifts, karma, and life paths. In particular, she finds Astrology to be helpful for major transitions, unexpected life changes, and for better understanding relationships—romantic and otherwise.

Juliana also practices Energy Healing, using a blend of Reiki and shamanic methods. She helps facilitate powerful breakthroughs by clearing blockages around physical, spiritual, relationship, and emotional difficulties. A longtime student of Tibetan Buddhism, she's an avid meditator and spiritual practitioner.

Juliana runs a popular Instagram feed, @etherealculture, and website: etherealculture.com. She gives talks regularly at The Alchemist's Kitchen in NYC, and leads various workshops and retreats around the world. She also wrote a book called, The Stars Within You: A Modern Guide to Astrology (etherealculture.com/thestarswithinyou), published by Roost Books, distributed by Penguin Random House.