Interview: Lisa Finander, Disneystrology

Bob talks with Lisa about Disney, her book, and the stars

In September 2010, Quirk Books released Lisa Finander's Disneystrology, a wonderful, full-color, illustrated guide in which you can discover your kindred Disney character based on the astrological and numerological implications of your birthday. Despite what you might think, it's not a mystical mash but rather a cool, clever compendium of Disney characters suitable for all ages.

If you haven't read my review of Disneystrology, why not read it now? My interview with Lisa will make more sense if you know what her book's about. And, of course, once you're done with the interview, it's time to buy the book and learn which Disney character the stars have chosen for you.

Tell me a little about Lisa Finander. When did you first become interested in astrology and numerology? Do you consider yourself a 'professional' astrologer?

LISA: My interest in astrology started when I was a young girl around the age of eight. I was at a Halloween party and one of the prizes was a puzzle for the sign of Virgo. The puzzle depicted the profile of a woman walking and holding a shaft of wheat. Her dress was long and white and was reminiscent of the ones worn by Greek goddesses. I fell in love with her image and was excited to find out that my birthday occurred during the sign of Virgo. Once I brought the puzzle home and put together its pieces, my desire to learn more about astrology began.
I am a professional astrologer. Disneystrology would be a much different book if I didn't have the astrological knowledge that comes from years of study and practice.
In my 20s, I studied numerology and every other metaphysical topic that I could learn by reading books and taking classes. Today, I still attend classes and workshops to gain knowledge and learn new techniques. I am an avid reader of subjects in the mind-body-spirit genre.

In layman's terms, what is the difference between astrology and numerology? Which of the two was the greater influence in writing Disneystrology?

LISA: Astrology is the study of the Sun, Moon, planets, certain asteroids, and significant points in a chart based on a person's date of birth, time, and location. An astrologer analyzes the position of these celestial bodies and points based on the signs of the zodiac to gain insight and information as it relates to people and events.
Numerology is the symbolism found in numbers. Personality traits and specific qualities are correlated to numbers. The numbers represented by days of the year, addresses, birthdates, and names (each letter of the alphabet has a number assigned to it) have a numerological meaning.
The astrological Sun signs provided the main structure for writing Disneystrology. However, in order to write the unique qualities found in each day of the sign, I incorporated the symbolism of numerology and tarot.

Tell me a little about Lisa Finander and Disney. Clearly, you're a fan! When was your first trip to a Disney park, and what magical memories do you recall?

LISA: I am a fan of Disney! When I was 4 years old, my mom made me a blue fairy costume from the movie Pinocchio to wear on Halloween. I remember the gold cutout stars that she stitched to the skirt and the magic wand she made with a gold star on top. Waving around the wand was more fun than the candy! I vividly remember going to the movies to see The Jungle Book and singing 'The Bare Necessities' and doing a little dance.
Mary Poppins was another childhood movie I remember fondly. I even had a Mary Poppins doll complete with her suitcase. Although I never figured out how to jump inside a sidewalk drawing, the thought of how it might be done intrigued me - magic chalk, perhaps! Fantasia is one of my all-time favorite movies. It appeals to my love of dance, music, magic, and fantasy. I went to see Fantasia in the movie theatre when it was restored in 1990 and I own the video.
Truly, my most magical memories are related to the process of writing Disneystrology. Being chosen as the author to write the book is something for which I'll always be grateful and will never forget. All the nights I spent working with the various Disney characters and stories were blissful and rewarding. I am very proud of how the book turned out, and each time I look through its pages, I remember all the love that went into creating the birthday descriptions and choosing the characters.
I have never been to a Disney park or on a Disney cruise. Can you believe that? I would love to go, and it is definitely on my to-do-list.

I doubt I'd ever have paired Disney with astrology. What was your inspiration?

LISA: The inspiration came from Jason Rekulak at Quirk Books. He asked me if I was interested in the project because of my background in astrology and as an author. Of course, I was, and I wrote three sample birthday entries for Quirk and Disney to approve. The famous three that I chose were Tinker Bell (June 21), Remy (February 11), and Mowgli (July 26).
Actually, I think astrology is a great fit for Disney. From the positive response that Disneystrology has received, the readers seem to agree. After all, 'When You Wish Upon a Star' is Disney's theme song from the movie Pinocchio. At the beginning of the story, Geppetto wishes on a falling star that Pinocchio would become a real boy. In The Princess and the Frog, Tiana also wishes on a star. Looking into the night sky and talking to the stars is astrology.
Similarly, birthdays are a popular theme in Disney stories, especially for Winnie the Pooh, who loves to celebrate. Disney birthday and party supplies are popular and fun. I remember on my 7th birthday, my cake had Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs on top. Matching a Disney character with your birthday adds an additional way to enjoy the magic of Disney. You can dress up as your character for Halloween, decorate your room, or throw a theme party.

What's the process involved in matching a Disney character to a birthday?

LISA: It might surprise you how much effort went into not only choosing the perfect character for each birthday but also discovering forgotten ones from the past and learning about new ones created for upcoming movies.
When I wrote Disneystrology, I considered many things before assigning a character to a specific date. I started by building a huge database of Disney characters that I updated daily. It contained the names and movies of over 400 characters. Then, I researched each character diligently by watching movies, clips, reading books, searching online, and viewing images. I also checked to see if Disney had already assigned birthdays to any of the characters.
For example, Disney had Mickey and Minnie's birthdays as November 18, and Dale's birthday as April 2. Donald Duck had three different birthdays, so I chose the one that the Disney Parks use for celebrating Donald's birthday.
As I added bits of dialogue, the movie's back-story (the making of the movie, its animation history, and the people who drew and provided the voices of the characters along with their personal stories), and any prominent character personality traits to the database, I noted my impressions of where the character might fit in the book.
For every month of the year, I printed out a sheet of paper where I made hand-written notes about the astrology, numerology, and tarot card associated with each day of that month. This is where I kept track of which dates were filled and which ones were still available.
Next, I used the two databases simultaneously to determine which characters I would use and assigned them to a specific day of the year.
Many people have asked me if I wrote the book in chronological order. I didn't. Instead, I started with the character and then chose the birthday that they would preside over. While I was writing, I had several Disney books spread around me, my notes, the character image on my screen, and the movie in the DVD player. Movie by movie, I would study each character and decide where they would fit, while being cognizant of how many male and female characters each month had and what astrological signs I had assigned to other characters in the same story.
In the beginning, it would take me hours to match up a character with a certain day of the year.

Did you consider - just for a moment - including Disney villains in the book? Wouldn't Maleficient have been quite the surprise for someone?

LISA: I originally thought of including the villains at the end of the book where a handful of Disney villains would be grumbling about not having a birthday of their own to curse. That idea ended up being cut from the book.
I never intended to use the villains for the actual birthday entries. Since Disneystrology is a book for all ages, assigning the villains to some of the birthdays would have changed the tone of the book completely. While it might be fun to think of your ex as Maleficient or Gaston, it would be upsetting to parents and grandparents to read that Cruella De Vil governs their child's birthday.

When's your birthday? (I'm anxious to look up your character!)

LISA: August 27 (Mrs. Potts).

[Bob's Three Cents: Mrs. Potts, according to the book, is 'warm, optimistic, and sincere'. Based on my few interactions with Lisa, I'd say that's pretty much on the money!]

Do you plan to write further books about Disney?

LISA: I'm certainly open to that possibility and many others, too. I love to write, and through my writing, entertain and uplift the spirits of my readers.

Some people are convinced that the 'zodiac' has changed with the 'discovery' of a thirteenth sign. Are you one of them? What's the basis for that claim?

There are two different zodiacs that astrologers use as the basis for their interpretations, the sidereal zodiac and the tropical zodiac. The tropical zodiac is popular in the west, and it's the one that most people are familiar with when they read their horoscope in the paper. There isn't a new discovery or anything that is new as it relates to the study of astrology. The two zodiacs use different systems for determining the placement of the signs. I use the tropical zodiac and in that system, there are twelve equal signs.
Twin Cities Live, a local television show in Minnesota asked me to explain the controversy to on their show. Here's the clip.

What would you tell someone who buys your book, looks up their character, and then says: no way, that's not me at all?

If they are interested in astrology and want to explore the description of their birthday as it relates to them, I would have someone close to the person, someone that has known them a long time, read it and give their opinion.
Remember that the interpretations are brief and are based only on a person's Sun sign and the numerology and tarot symbolism for that day of the month. It doesn't take into consideration the person's complete birth data because for each person that information is unique.
We are all so much more than a hundred word explanation, and we should be. My intention was to reveal the highest potential of each day by focusing on the universal qualities shared by people born on that day.
Also, at different times in our lives, certain parts of astrological charts are activated or more prominent. For example, in childhood, we often express more of the characteristics reflected in our Moon sign than in our Sun sign.
Lastly, look at your reactions to the particular words associated with your birthday. If I say someone is "sensitive" to their surroundings, some people might interpret that to mean moody or touchy and say, "that's not me." If I used the word "intuitive" instead, the person might think that means they have to be psychic or know what others are thinking. Again, they might say, "nope." However, if I say that they have good "instincts", they will likely say, "Yup, that's me."
We react to certain words emotionally whether it has to do with a name someone called us, a characteristic of ours that we were teased about when we were young, a gender bias, or sometimes we just don't like a word for reasons completely unknown to us.
If you've gone through all that, and still think it isn't you, then my advice is not to sweat it. The qualities assigned to each birthday are positive ones, so you have nothing to lose by embracing or developing them! Smile.

Thanks, Lisa!

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