Return to Middle-Earth: Reading J.R.R. Tolkien’s The Lord of the Rings

When dark times are upon us, we need support to sustain us through the long night. The myths and great legends of our cultural heritages provide tales of courage and heroism, beauty and sacrifice, and offer an archetypal pattern to follow in our own lives. Far from escapism, the literary imagination can carry us towards wise ways of taking on seemingly unsurmountable challenges, rebirthing ancient knowledge into new times and situations.

As the weight of the world seems only to grow heavier, I invite you to join me on a journey to an imaginal time that resembles our own more and more by the day. After a hiatus last year, it is my honor to offer for the third time my Nura Learning course Journey to the Imaginal Realm: Reading J.R.R. Tolkien’s The Lord of the Rings. Whether you are new to Middle-earth or are familiar with its well-trod paths, we welcome you to join our literary fellowship, traveling through Tolkien’s chapters in good company. We depart on our journey on the autumn equinox, Wednesday, September 22—a day affectionately known as Hobbit Day.

What does it mean to be a Ring-bearer in such times? What humble heroic role do we each have to play in our own fellowship? I am sure many of us are asking the same questions as Frodo, wishing such events need not have happened in our time. But we can remember, as the wise Gandalf himself says: “…so do all who live to see such times. But that is not for them to decide. All we have to decide is what to do with the time that is given us.”

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Course Description

The Lord of the Rings by J. R. R. Tolkien has been a beloved story to several generations since its publication in the mid-1950s. The story has a timeless quality to it, and engages with a complex struggle between good and evil, death and immortality, power and freedom. The Lord of the Rings blends otherworldly romance with the high rhetoric of epic mythology, at times interwoven with the internal depths of the nineteenth century novel and the political climate of the twentieth century. As Tolkien’s close friend and colleague C. S. Lewis once said: “Nothing quite like it has been done before. This book is like lightning from a clear sky . . . here are beauties which pierce like swords and burn like cold iron.”

The Lord of the Rings is a text treated by many as a sacred text, one to be returned to year after year, or read aloud with loved ones. The Lord of the Rings has become a myth for our time. This course, now in its second year running, offers a journey through Tolkien’s magnum opus in a community of learning, guided by a scholar who has spent more than two decades engaging Tolkien’s writings and artwork. This course is designed both for newcomers to Tolkien’s narrative, and for veteran travelers through Middle-earth’s many realms. Together we will explore the grand themes and hidden nuances of Tolkien’s epic story, connecting The Lord of the Rings to the larger mythology of Middle-earth, and situating Tolkien’s process of writing within his own powerful experiences of the imaginal realm.

To learn more and register, please visit: Nura Learning: Journey to the Imaginal Realm 

Astro Magia

A Symposium of Art, Academy, Philosophy, & Practice

September 17 – 19, 2021

It is my joy and honor to be offering a keynote presentation at the conference Astro Magia: A Symposium of Art, Academy, Philosophy, & Practice. This online symposium draws together an inspiring pantheon of voices on the subject of astrological magic, exploring the praxis of participatory engagement with a living, symbolic sky.

My keynote will take place on Saturday, September 18 at 4:00–5:30 pm Pacific time. The presentation is titled “The Sacral Hour: Archetypes, Synchronicity, and Magic,” and offers a contemporary philosophical and psychological perspective on astrological magic.

The Sacral Hour: Archetypes, Synchronicity, and Magic

Synchronicity is the meaningful coincidence of an inner experience with an outer event, in which there is no direct causal connection and yet there is a core archetypal symbolism informing the interconnected events. Astrology is the ancient practice of reading the archetypal story playing out across the heavens night after night. While by definition synchronicities are rare events, astrology can be understood as a continuously ongoing, collectively verifiable synchronicity: the meaningful coincidence of the positions of the planets relative to the archetypal unfolding of human events on Earth.

In the modern world view, synchronicities are seen as mere anomalies, chance events despite their extreme improbability. But synchronicity points towards a deeper meaning, one inherently familiar to ancient, medieval, and traditional paradigms: the cosmos is saturated with purpose, meaning, consciousness, and intelligence, an archetypally patterned web eternally woven by the co-arising divine soul of the world. To align ourselves with these archetypal threads is to participate in a magic that is thrumming every moment from the hidden heart of the cosmos.

While astrological magic has ancient roots, practicing it in the contemporary world requires a synthesis and integration with modern philosophy, psychology, religion, and spirituality in order to bring forward language and concepts that can speak to our place in an evolving cosmos. Archetypal theory, synchronicity, and participatory spirituality are all foundational concepts that can support the praxis of astrological magic in a paradigm reawakening to cosmic enchantment.

Learn More & Register for the Symposium!

Jung’s Red Book and Active Imagination

This Wednesday, June 9 at 7:30–9:30 pm Pacific time I will be offering an online presentation for the C.G. Jung Society of Vancouver entitled “Jung’s Red Book and Active Imagination.” The presentation is based on the chapter I wrote for the fourth volume of Jung’s Red Book for Our Time: Searching for Soul Under Postmodern Conditions, edited by Murray Stein and Thomas Arzt.

Register for the Event!

In this talk I will speak about Jung’s Red Book, and how the active imagination fantasies Jung experienced can be understood as a co-creation of the human faculty of imagination in participatory relationship with the archetypes of the collective unconscious. After the presentation we will have time for questions and dialogue!

Jung’s Relationship to Astrology

This Saturday, May 29 at noon Pacific time I will be offering a presentation for the Jung Archademy on “Jung’s Relationship to Astrology.”

Register for the Event!

In recent years, new scholarship has been emerging demonstrating the essential role the discipline of astrology played in the development and practice of C. G. Jung’s analytical psychology. In 1911, Jung wrote a letter to Freud in which he said that his nights were occupied with the study of astrology, to which Freud responded that Jung would be “accused of mysticism.” Jung kept his practice of astrology relatively concealed, but based upon evidence in his own writings, as well as statements he made late in his life, Jung was drawing on astrological wisdom regularly for both personal use and with his patients.

Drawing on the research of Liz Greene, Keiron Le Grice, and Safron Rossi, this presentation will demonstrate the role astrology played in Jung’s analytic practice, as well as the significant ways in which he drew on astrological symbolism in the transformative process of creating The Red Book. By understanding how astrology influenced the development of Jungian psychology—and how depth psychology has subsequently shaped modern astrology—we can see how the astrological discipline can complement, enhance, and deepen the psychotherapy practiced today.

Awakening to Archetypal Astrology Course

This year has already been full of several major projects for me, and one that I am especially eager to share with you has just been launched: my first online introductory course to the practice of archetypal astrology. The course is offered through the Academy of Oracle Arts, a Nevada City-based center for higher and deeper learning. In many ways this course is a culmination of more than a decade of astrological learning and practice, and it is my joy and honor to be able to present it to you.

As I was writing the lectures, I came to recognize how much the course itself is an homage to my father Richard Tarnas, who has been my greatest teacher in this work. I chose to build the course around his foundational text Cosmos and Psyche: Intimations of a New World View, giving a new generation of students the opportunity to explore deeply the book that was being written throughout my entire childhood.

The course launches on May 1, and each of the six modules of the course will be released weekly over the next month and a half, and will be available in perpetuity. This is an evergreen course, meaning it will be available for students to enroll in at any time, and to study the material at one’s own pace. You will be able to return to the lectures again and again so they can support you in developing your own engaged astrological practice.

Register for Awakening to Archetypal Astrology!

Course Description
Archetypal astrology is a discipline that emerges from the interweaving of the astrological tradition with depth psychology and transpersonal spirituality. This introductory course lays the foundations for an astrological practice, beginning with an examination of world views and the history of the archetypal perspective, followed by a study of the basic principles and techniques of archetypal astrology: the meanings of the planets, aspects, and zodiacal signs, how to read a natal chart and explore the world transits, and how to calculate personal transits and keep a transit journal. Participants in the course will be given the tools for their own ethical astrological practice, cultivating the capacity for deep inner reflection, relational understanding and growth, and an archetypal perception of the cosmos in which we are all embedded.

Course Outline

Class 1 – Introduction to course material
• A brief history of astrology in the West
• World views and synchronicity

Class 2 – Planets and aspects
• Archetypes in philosophy, psychology, and astrology
• Saturn and Uranus cycles

Class 3 – Signs of the zodiac
• World transits
• Uranus-Pluto cycles

Class 4 – Natal charts
• House systems and angles
• Saturn-Pluto cycles

Class 5 – Personal transits
• Reading an ephemeris and using software
• Jupiter-Uranus cycles

Class 6 – Ethics of astrology
• Uranus-Neptune cycles
• Living in an astrological world view

Register for the course Awakening to Archetypal Astrology:

Transits for the Aries-Taurus Lunation

The plum and cherry trees are bedecked by white and pink blossoms, the branches laden with the potential of summer fruit. Warming sunlight calls forth new growth from the Earth, and the thick green grasses are bedazzled with daffodils and narcissus flowers. The spindly elven branches of the delicate dogwood trees are just starting to show forth the star-like white blossoms that bring the forest to enchanted life. Spring really is here, and Taurus season is nearly upon us.

The zodiacal sign of Taurus is full this lunation cycle, with Venus coming home to her domain and playing host to the Sun and Mercury, and to the lingering outer planetary guest Uranus. While this February a stellium of planets in Aquarius squared Mars and Uranus in Taurus, now a stellium of planets in Taurus forms the reciprocal square to Jupiter and Saturn in Aquarius. The tensions between Saturn and Uranus continue to be the dominant archetypal complex shaping our zeitgeist, the old making way for the new—sometimes with unexpected schisms and breaks and sometimes with awakened maturity and responsibility. Orient towards creativity and innovation, but do not forget the lessons of the past, for it is only in the synthesis and integration of the two that a sustainable and regenerative future can be conceived.

“The Promise of Spring” by Charlotte Gibb:

Transits of the Aries-Taurus Lunation

*April 11 @ 7:31 pm PT* The New Moon in Aries aligns with Venus in a square to Pluto in late Capricorn, impelling a powerful infusion of sensuous, erotic, and aesthetic energies into the birth of a new celestial cycle that will ripple forth into the next lunation.

*April 13 @ 4:09 pm PT* The Sun in Aries sextiles Mars in Gemini, as the Moon conjoins Uranus and squares Saturn. The impulsive force of will to achieve and get tasks done may have to contend with feelings of heaviness and emotionally erratic behavior. Take action, but also tend to the emotional body with care.

*April 14 @ 11:22 am PT* Venus sashays into her home sign of Taurus, draping her gossamer gown over the flowering grasses, and settling into a throne woven of apple blossom branches. A crystal bowl of fresh strawberries and white rose petals rests by her side, while a glass of rare champagne sparkles in her radiant diamond light.

*April 15 @ 9:59 am PT* The Sun in Aries sextiles Jupiter in Aquarius, bringing warmth and joy, quiet celebration and subtle excess, an exuberance of being in the golden glow of life’s elevated heights.

*April 16 @ 6:27 am PT* The Sun in Aries squares Pluto in Capricorn, while Mars in Gemini forms an airy trine to Jupiter in Aquarius. The boxer comes charging into the ring of life’s competition, and while good sportsmanship may prevail and darker, hidden contention may come to light in uncomfortable, shadowy ways.  

*April 17 @ 9:00 am PT* Mercury in Aries has a highly active day, forming sextiles both to Mars in Gemini and Jupiter in Aquarius, and a square to Pluto in Capricorn. Digging to the bottom of the well of ideas may bring a great expansion of insight, but arguing the point too fiercely might lead to ostracization rather than a change in perspective.

*April 18 @ 6:50 pm PT* The Sun and Mercury conjoin in late Aries, directing the light of insight and awareness clearly and potently towards actions, activities, and activations of intellect.

*April 19 @ 11:59 pm PT* Both Mercury and the Sun ingress into Taurus, with fast-paced Mercury just ahead of the Sun by a few hours. A minute before midnight, the Moon in the first degree of Leo forms its waxing square to the Sun, making the opening move in a game of chess where thought and feeling play each side of the board.

*April 22 @ 6:01 pm PT* Venus conjoins Uranus in Taurus, and the Moon in Virgo forms the waxing gibbous trine to the Sun, marking Earth Day’s celebration of our life-giving home planet. Unanticipated desires may arise romantically and relationally, the heart beating with the pulse of dazzling fireworks, and eccentric aesthetics revolutionizing the way beauty is perceived.

*April 23 @ 4:49 am PT* Mars splashes into Cancer, and sizzling steam hisses off the warrior’s armor as the planetary archetype of action and fiery will cools off in the emotional waters of the Moon’s zodiacal domain. Find assertion through gentle paths and relational avenues, aligning actions with the emotional flow of life rather than trying to swim fiercely upstream.

*April 25 @ 3:19 pm PT* Mercury, Venus, and Uranus all conjoin in Taurus, forming a square to Saturn in Aquarius. Communicate relational boundaries with precision and clarity, lest unexpected cracks and schisms arise. Talk honestly about change, implementing it intentionally and with integrity, rather than after you have crossed the breaking point.

*April 26 @ 8:32 pm PT* The Full Moon in Scorpio marks the last full day all the planets are seen moving direct, for Pluto stations retrograde the following day and appears to traverse in reverse for the next several months. The multi-petaled lunar flower blossoms to its fullest, but the petals are a deep hue, tinged with shades of secret intimacy and yearning.

*April 29 @ 7:27 pm PT* Mercury in Taurus sextiles Neptune in Pisces, sanguinely singing poetic passages of heavenly harmonies, saturating the symbolic skull surrounding the mind and flooding it with fantastical images and symbols.  

*April 30 @ 12:54 pm PT* The Sun and Uranus conjoin in Taurus, awakening the ingenious insight, igniting the impulse to revolutionize change, and striding forward heroically into a new and brilliant dawn of awareness.

*May 2 @ 3:38 pm PT* Mercury in Taurus trines a Moon-Pluto conjunction in Capricorn, while Venus in Taurus sextiles Neptune in Pisces. Dreamy and fantastical webs weave from heart to heart, deepened by profoundly vulnerable emotional dialogue and communion.

*May 3 @ 12:50 pm PT* The Sun in Taurus forms the waning square to a Moon-Saturn conjunction in Aquarius, while Mercury in late Taurus squares Jupiter in Aquarius. By day’s end, Mercury leaps into its home sign of Gemini, opening up channels of abundant communication and rapid dialogue. The intellect may be active, but with Moon-Saturn square the Sun a more introverted, introspective, quiet space may need to be nurtured in order for conversation to feel welcome.

*May 6 @ 4:25 am PT* Venus in Taurus forms an earthy trine with Pluto in Capricorn, as the waning balsamic Moon in Pisces sextiles the Sun. As the Moon’s light declines into a sliver, Bacchus’s dryads dance in the dark woods, sensually swaying amongst the silvered shadows.

*May 8 @ 6:38 am PT* Venus in late Taurus squares Jupiter in Capricorn, before crossing the threshold into Mercury’s domain of Gemini. Graciously crowned in all the glory of her home sign, Venus takes a final celebratory bow before stepping into the more intellectual and airy realm of her cousin Hermes’ home.

*May 11 @ 12:00 pm PT* The warming spring soil of the New Moon in Taurus invites the planting of fertile seeds of blossoming intention, while Mars in Cancer forms a sextile to Uranus in Taurus. Sparks of impulsive energy move the soul to action, initiating the unfoldment of the next lunation cycle into motion.

Aries New Moon Workshop

Academy of Oracle Arts Monthly Forecast

After a full year of offering the New Moon forecast workshops with the Academy of Oracle Arts, I am bringing this offering to a close with one final workshop for the Aries New Moon. As usual the workshop will be held online, and all who wish to attend are welcome to join! We will focus on the astrological transits for the month ahead, as we move into the blossoming heart of spring.

For those who would like to review the transits from last month, the recording of the previous workshop is available here: Pisces New Moon Workshop.

Friday, April 9th, 4:00–5:30 pm Pacific time

For those unable to attend live the video is now available of the workshop!

This monthly workshop with archetypal astrologer Becca Tarnas offers an astrological forecast of the lunation cycle ahead, concluding with the New Moon in Aries. Learn the meanings of the planets, aspects, and zodiacal signs, and how to navigate the archetypal energies of the month ahead. Participants will gain a basic foundation in archetypal astrology, and leave with an understanding of the astrological conditions of the next month, and how best to integrate this knowledge into their everyday lives. All levels of astrological knowledge are welcome!

Register in advance for this workshop:

Transits for the Pisces-Aries Lunation

The arrival of spring has felt imminent in my forested corner of the world, with small green leaves beginning to unfurl and dark purple buds forming upon the long naked tree branches. Yet just to remind us in our mountain abode that Pisces season is not yet over and springtime has still to arrive, a sudden blanket of snow descended yesterday to turn the world once more into a wintry spectacle. On a walk this afternoon along one of the pathways by my home, I could perceive the Sun-Venus-Neptune gossamer veil drawn over the world, Venus-Neptune’s ethereal beauty shimmering through the beams of sunlight itself. The Pisces New Moon will align on the same day as the exact Venus-Neptune conjunction, bringing the essence of sacred love and spiritual beauty into the next lunation’s quiet seeding.

The unfolding lunar cycle is marked by themes of subtlety, harmony, and forward initiative. As we approach Aries season and the dawn of spring, not a single planet is retrograde in the sky. Nothing inhibits the archetypal expression of each of the planets at this time—except, of course, dear Saturn, who always reminds us of the importance of not being hasty. Furthermore, the month is marked by numerous sextiles between planets: gentle 60° alignments that tend to express themselves with confluence and support, a gift offered to us that we might take it and make the best of what is given.

As we reach the anniversary of the coronavirus lockdowns, there are many complex feelings arising as we take stock of the transformed and still changing world around us. May the gentler alignments of this next lunation support each of us as we figure out how best to walk forward and step into the potentials of spring.

Transits of the Pisces-Aries Lunation

*March 13 @ 2:21 am PT* The New Moon aligns in Pisces in a stellium with an exact Venus-Neptune conjunction, initiating a new lunation cycle in the midst of an exquisite, ethereal romantic fairy-story in which mermaids sweetly sing songs of sacred seduction and the wholeness of our being dissolves into the divine union of love.

*March 15 @ 3:26 pm PT* Mercury swims into the sign of Pisces after a long sojourn in Aquarius, loosening the grip of mental acuity and slipping into a stream of consciousness dialogue with . . . pardon, what did you say again?  

*March 16 @ 11:26 am PT* The Sun in Pisces sextiles Pluto in late Capricorn, illuminating the shadowed realms that still tug at our attention, asking to be seen, transmuted, and transformed.

*March 18 @ 1:40 am PT* In alignment with the waxing crescent Moon in Taurus, a humble trine forms with Sun-Venus in Pisces sextile to Pluto in Capricorn, Pluto trine the Moon, and the Moon sextile Sun-Venus. Rumblings of desire echo below the surface of sweet platitudes, disguising deeper impulses than might be recognized at first glance.

*March 20 @ 2:37 am PT* The Sun alights into Aries, marking the Vernal Equinox and ushering in spring with International Astrology Day. The inauguration of the spring season lights up new energies to initiate action and take steps forward into life.

*March 21 @ 7:40 am PT* The waxing quarter Moon in Cancer opens a day of heightened astrological activity, with Mercury in Pisces sextiling Uranus in Taurus, Venus ingressing into the sign of Aries, and Mars in Gemini forming an airy trine with Saturn in Aquarius. Mind, heart, and will pull in varying directions, the first alight with new ideas, the second entering heated territories, and the third quelling the impulse for action until tangible measures have been taken.

*March 23 @ 8:26 pm PT* Mercury in Pisces squares Mars in Gemini, threatening disgruntled disagreements and furtive argumentation. Scream into a pillow or burn an angry letter—and let the energies dissipate with the ashes.

*March 25 @ 11:58 pm PT* The Sun and Venus at last conjoin in Aries after dancing in a close tango for many weeks. The cazimi marks Venus’s transition from the morning star to the evening, where we can soon adore her diamond beauty at a reasonable hour once more.

*March 28 @ 11:48 am PT* The Libra Full Moon opposes the Sun-Venus conjunction, directly perceiving the tender hidden realms of the Lunar unconscious and inviting them forth to illuminate the sweetened pathways of the heart.

*March 29 @ 8:24 pm PT* Mercury and Neptune conjoin in Pisces, drowning rationality within the wet pools of dream consciousness and allowing the symbolic whispers of transcendent intimations to seep through our thought patterns.

*March 30 @ 8:47 am PT* Venus in Aries sextiles Saturn in Aquarius, tempering the heart’s affections with reminders of loves gone by, perhaps to close the gates of intimacy and perhaps to dwell in bittersweet reminiscence.

*March 31 @ 2:04 pm PT* The Sun in Aries sextiles Saturn in Aquarius, emphasizing organization and discipline, but hopefully only with gentle reminders of one’s responsibilities and commitments, rather than a punitive judgement from the superego.

*April 1 @ 11:04 pm PT* Mercury in Pisces sextiles Pluto in Capricorn, subtly driving the inquiry deeper, making sure no stone has been left unturned and no idea uninvestigated.

*April 3 @ 8:41 pm PT* Mercury ingresses into Aries, warming up and drying off after a swim in the Piscean sea. What tasks are now at hand that need to be attended to with swift action and mental initiative?

*April 4 @ 3:02 am PT* The waning quarter Moon in Capricorn squares the Sun in Aries, reminding us of what practical tasks must be concluded in service of the lunation’s intended achievements.

*April 6 @ 4:18 am PT* The Sun-Venus conjunction in Aries sextiles Mars in Gemini, while the Moon in Aquarius creates a humble trine with a sextile to Sun-Venus and a trine Mars. Subtly mirroring the humble trine with Pluto on March 18, rather than Plutonic rumblings of desire the libido instead steps forward with more fiery, yet caring assertion.

*April 9 @ 12:18 pm PT* Mars in Gemini squares Moon-Neptune in Pisces, irritating the sensitivities with rash intrusions from the outer world, leading potentially to passive aggressive and evasively defensive responses.

*April 10 @ 8:09 am PT* Mercury in Aries sextiles Saturn in Aquarius, while Venus in Aries sextiles Jupiter in Aquarius. While the heart opens generously, the mind may sit in discerning judgement over the matter, questioning whether opulence and luxurious taste is really the most responsible approach at this time.

*April 11 @ 7:31 pm PT* The New Moon in Aries aligns with Venus in a square to Pluto in late Capricorn, impelling a powerful infusion of sensuous, erotic, and aesthetic energies into the birth of a new celestial cycle that will ripple forth into the next lunation.

Pisces New Moon Workshop

Academy of Oracle Arts Monthly Forecast

Continuing with the Pisces New Moon, I am offering the penultimate monthly astrology workshop through the Academy of Oracle Arts, our local Nevada City center for learning the magical arts. The workshop will be held online, and all who wish to attend are welcome to join! We will focus on the astrological transits for the month ahead, moving from the watery end of winter into the fiery ignition of the spring season.

For those who would like to review the transits from last month, the recording of the previous workshop is available here: Aquarius New Moon Workshop.

Thursday, March 11th, 4:00–5:30 pm Pacific time

For those unable to attend live the video is now available of the workshop!

This monthly workshop with archetypal astrologer Becca Tarnas offers an astrological forecast of the lunation cycle ahead, continuing with the New Moon in Pisces. Learn the meanings of the planets, aspects, and zodiacal signs, and how to navigate the archetypal energies of the month ahead. Participants will gain a basic foundation in archetypal astrology, and leave with an understanding of the astrological conditions of the next month, and how best to integrate this knowledge into their everyday lives. All levels of astrological knowledge are welcome!

Register in advance for this workshop:

The Astrology of Awakening II: Renewal of Hope

A Free 4-Day Online Astrology Summit

April 15 – 18, 2021

I am deeply honored to be offering my first ever keynote presentation at a conference, The Astrology of Awakening II: Renewal of Hope. This online astrology summit is a celebration of women astrologers who are bringing forward new perspectives of hope by drawing on the ancient wisdom of the astrological tradition.

My keynote presentation will take place on Thursday, April 15 at 10:00–11:30 pm Pacific time. The presentation is titled “Awakening to Responsibility” and will focus on the current Saturn-Uranus square alignment that is illuminating the skies through 2023:

At the U.S. Inauguration, Senator Amy Klobuchar stated that the January 6 insurrection “awakened us to our responsibility as Americans.” This statement reflects the archetypal principles of our current Saturn-Uranus square, in alignment from 2020 through 2023. Saturn is the principle of responsibility, commitment, discipline and order, but also of restriction, imprisonment, and authority; Uranus symbolizes freedom, rebellion, and liberation, as well as awakening and revelation. History demonstrates that these two contradictory archetypal principles create a zeitgeist in which sudden and unexpected crises can initiate the breakdown of traditional or oppressive structures, with the potential to bring revolutionary change into concrete structural form.

Learn More & Register for the Summit!