by Sue Tompkins
Jeff Mayo – By Sue Tompkins
By Sue Tompkins, Author of Aspects and The Contemporary Astrologers Handbook: An in-depth guide to interpreting your horoscope.
I never met Jeff Mayo but he has touched my life in one way or another quite a few times over the years. For starters he was my first tutor in astrology in the late 1970’s. I was travelling in those days; – notably in Canada and the West Indies and then back in London – but wherever I was, I worked on my exercises and Jeff marked them. I remember liking his handwriting and that he was warm and positive in his comments but nevertheless quite rigorous in his marking. It was he who taught me how to calculate a horoscope; this I learned solely through correspondence, studying from his books and his notes. I vaguely remember that he (and I think his wife also) were involved in a car crash at one point but nevertheless I continued to get my homework promptly returned to me. I still have my Certificate in Astrology from the Mayo School which Jeff himself signed on 13 January 1979.
In 1996 our paths crossed again as I was asked by his publisher to draw the horoscopes for his 1996 edition of Teach Yourself Astrology which he co-wrote with Christine Ramsdale. I daresay Jeff would have drawn all the charts himself and perhaps taken charge of the whole book but he was recovering from major surgery and had to accept help. Be that as it may, I was again in the position of having my work marked by him as he checked the many horoscopes I drew for this revised version of his book. Jeff’s first edition of Teach Yourself Astrology appeared in 1964 and over the ensuing decades did much to raise the profile of astrology. For perhaps the first time, here was an inexpensive, serious but highly accessible astrology book appearing in just about every bookshop across the land. Not surprisingly, those early editions did much to encourage serious study. True perhaps to his Ascendant and Mercury in Scorpio, Jeff was a waffle free zone. The beauty of his work was always that he explained things clearly; never wasting words but often packing an immense amount of information into a very short space.
Jeff wrote five other astrology books; of these The Astrologer’s Astronomical Handbook (1965) is a real gem which has never been bettered. I have collected copies of this book for years now so that in periods when it is unobtainable, I can still lend it to students who are studying for their astronomy exams. How To Read the Ephemeris (1966), How to Cast a Natal Chart (1967) and his The Planets and Human Behaviour (1972) also routinely appear on my list of recommended books.
Like me Jeff had his Moon in Sagittarius but I don’t know how much we were alike, if at all beyond both being teachers of astrology but I was flattered when I was likened to him in 2000 when I left the Faculty of Astrological Studies and started my own school. The reason for the comparison being that Jeff had done much the same thing a whole Saturn return before. He had succeeded Margaret Hone as Principal and Head Tutor at the Faculty in 1967 and under his leadership the school expanded significantly but, for whatever reason, he left in 1973 and shortly after started the Mayo school. One of my regrets in life is that I never actually met Jeff but I like to think that he is there in spirit with astrology students all over the world.
Born: 7 October 1921 8am GMT London.
Died: 17 April 1998 9.10 am BST Barnstaple