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These interviews were recorded under duress in the late summer of 2008

Linea Van Horn
Dorothy Kovach
Alex Kovach
Nina Gryphon
Elizabeth Barton
Dorian Gieseler Greenbaum
Joseph Crane
Robert Hand
Demetra George
Chris Brennan
Benjamin Dykes
Meira Epstein

Colour Key:
Blue means the answer is correct
Maroon means the answer is wrong
Green means I am co-ordinating with Dorian Greenbaum's blouse

An Interview with some American Astrologers by Deborah Houlding (teaching Joseph Crane to sing 'God save our Gracious Queen' ...)

This collection of in-depth interviews was recorded on a recent visit to the United States. I am using the term 'in-depth' loosely. In fact, some of the interviewees have subsequently complained that they were not really 'interviewed' - but these people were unable to connect with my 10th-house-Mars-in-Aries-speed-interview style. The secret of my technique was (wherever possible) to ensure a few drinks had been consumed before getting out my notepad, and then proclaiming my intention to conduct a personal interview. Once the interview was underway, I also made it clear that answers had to be spontaneous and immediate (if there was any sense of hesitation I started counting down from 5).

To ensure the interviews were fair, I asked everyone five questions all on the same categories of astrology. They also had a final sixth question which I called the 'revealing red herring'. I explained that there was no 'right or wrong' answer to this because I wanted them to feel relaxed as we moved into the final stages of the interview (however, I did take this question into consideration when producing my own assessment of each person's character flaws). I hope you enjoy reading these interviews as much as I enjoyed recording them. You might want to ponder on what your own answers would have been to these probing questions ...

(Garry Phillipson, eat your heart out!)

Linea 'Wonder Woman' Van Horn Linea Van Horn
Full time professional astrologer. President of the San Francisco Astrological Society; Vice-President and Education Director of the San Francisco Chapter of NCGR. Astrological Content Developer and Editor for the website The Astrologer. All-round-astrological-wonder-woman and bloody marvel.

Q1: Which planet rules Aquarius?

Q2: The star group known as the Big Dipper is located in which constellation?

Ursa Major.


Q3: In astrology today, what does the acronym 'A.L.L.' stand for?

Hmmm I wanna say the 'Astrologer Lee Lehman'

The precise answer is the 'Astrological Lodge of London'.

Q4: What is 'elongation'?

The maximum distance between a planet and the Sun.

Wrong! That would be 'maximum elongation' Linea; I didn't ask for that.

Q5: How many degrees separate a sesqui-quadrate aspect?



Q6: What is the best city in the world in which to study astrology?

San Francisco - I mean hello?!

3/5 Psychological assessment of answers:
Despite an excellent knowledge of planetary rulerships, Linea is not using her full potential and must learn to do better. She suffers from having a fixation on the astrologer Lee Lehman, and needs to improve her knowledge of the Astrological Lodge of London.

Dorothy Kovach - neat. Dorothy Kovach
Highly respected professional astrologer, writer and timing expert, based in Northern California. Consultant to businesses and individuals; known for a spectacular prediction which called the end of the bull market to the month, five years in advance. Sharp-caned web-mistress who moderates the mailing list Anglicus Merlinus, and developer of the fabulous

Q1: Which planet rules the first face of Aries?

That wouldn't be Mars, would it?

Ah ..., yes it would I'm afraid. That's an unfortunate start.

Q2: What is the current position of the fixed star Regulus in the tropical zodiac?

29° Leo - and about 59', something like that.

Correct! It is actually 29° 57' 15", but, you know, I am going to give you that.

Q3: You are away from your home on your birthday, which locality do you use for a solar return?

Oh, that is so tricky. My feeling is that I would mostly use the location that I've been living at most of the year. I used to think that it was where you are born, but last year I did that and [something potentially litigious] didn't show up; but it did when I changed the location to [oh yawn ...remaining 45 minute answer omitted]

Wrong! This year my solar return occurred during a trans-Atlantic flight across several time zones - giving me a thirty two hour long birthday: no idea where I was, or when it was! It's not worth the headache - just use the birth chart.

Q4: What is 'long' and what is 'short'?

Oh, I know this. Hang on, from Cancer to Sagittarius is long; and from Capricorn to Gemini is short; especially Taurus and Pisces, because they rise the fastest over the ascendant.

Wrong! Art is 'long' and Life is 'short'.

Q5: What is a Blue Moon?

There's no such thing as a blue Moon! Well, actually it's when there are two Moons in one month. Oh yes and there's the ice crystals

I'm afraid you lose your point for being vague and rambly Dorothy.

Q6: In your opinion, who was the most impressive historical astrologer?

In my opinion, Parasara - the author of the classic Vedic text Brihat Parashara Hora Sastra.

1/5 Psychological assessment of answers:
I like Dorothy; she is charming, delightful and funny - much more endearing in real life than she appears on the screen. However, with only one correct answer in all of those easy questions, she should stop reading Vedic texts and get back to her William Lilly.

Alex Kovach - tidy. Alex Kovach
Alex's current area of expertise is being married to Dorothy Kovach - highly respected professional astrologer, writer and timing expert, based in Northern California. Consultant to businesses and individuals; known for a spectacular prediction which called the end of the bull market to the month, five years in advance. Sharp-caned web-mistress who moderates the mailing list Anglicus Merlinus, and developer of the fabulous

Q1: What is the Almuten of Libra?

What's an almuten? I don't know. Gemini?

It's Saturn to be precise.

Q2: What is the bright star of the constellation Virgo?


You're showing off with your knowledge of constellation names aren't you? The answer I actually wanted was Spica.

Q3: What is the best planet to have on the MC - Venus in Scorpio or Mars in Scorpio?

I'm going to go with Venus in Scorpio.

Too many other men have already gone with Venus in Scorpio; she'll go with anyone. You should have gone with Mars in dignity.

Q4: How many degrees in a 'quincunx' aspect?


Well ..., ..., that's not bad for a beginner. I'm going to give you that!

Q5: Who came first, Manilius, Paulus Alexandrinus, or Firmicus?


Correct! I think we have found your area of expertise: ancient astrology. Stick with it. (But always remember: cusps and orbs - too important to ignore).

Q6: Which historical astrologer would you most like to have a beer with?

Copernicus - he's my favourite Polack!

2/5 Psychological assessment of answers:
Alex revealed himself to be astute and sharp witted. He gained in confidence as the interview progressed, and soon learned to answer the questions as if he knew what he was talking about. He has the potential to be a great psychological astrologer.

Nina Smartass Nina Griffin
Fabulously talented astrologer who writes the amazing Gryphon Astrology Blog at Young, beautiful, intelligent, charming, kind, funny, and frequently churning out a wealth of great astrological knowledge. I took one look at her and knew I could never like her.

Q1: Where is the Via Combusta?

Between 15 Libra and 15 Scorpio.

Some astrologers say that. Some others say it is between the fall of the Sun and the fall of the Moon - the definition I was looking for.

Q2: If the fixed star Alioth is Mars, what is Regulus?

Mars and Jupiter.

I'll give you that.

Q3: In astrology today, what does the acronym AFAN stand for?

Association For Astrological Newbies.


Q4: Spell the word Alcochoden.

Do you want Arabic or Latin?

[(Icy glare ...)]


Some astrologers say that. But check William Lilly's Christian Astrology pages 530 and 531 - there he spells it A...L...C...O...C...H...O...D...O...N.

Ooooh. That's not fair.

Complain again and I will take away another point.

Q5: What nationality was Cyril Fagan?

With a name like 'Cyril' he would have to have been English or of Anglo-origin. No American would be that cruel, to name a son Cyril! Oh, hang on, I think he was Irish.

All right, I'll give you that. An easy way to remember is to refer to him as 'the Irish astrologer Cyril Fagan'.

Q6: Are you a true node or a mean node kind of girl?

I'm a true node kind of girl. (Here she blushes)

3/5 Psychological assessment of answers:
Nina has an attitude problem. She has some kind of 'control-freak' side to her personality which makes her want to be right, even when I have said that she 'is not'!

Elizabeth - let's make her into cupcakes and eat her - Barton Elizabeth Barton
A professional astrologer since 2002, Elizabeth is a former Police Officer and Intelligence Analyst. If that doesn't put you off messing with this woman, she also has a particular interest in the History of Magick, and makes and teaches the crafting of naturally-made wands. Elizabeth is also a trained Reiki Master, Energy masseuse, and a shining beacon of huggable loveliness.

Q1: Which sign is the fall of Saturn?

The fall of Saturn? Aggh, I can't remember! Let me see, I can figure it out. Leo.

Wrong! That's the detriment. Saturn is in fall in Aries.

Q2: Name a fixed star with a very malefic reputation.



Q3: What is the 13th sign of the zodiac?


Wrong! There are only 12 signs of the zodiac Elizabeth!

Q4: What does the word moiety actually mean?

Oh, I know it's to do with the degrees and the mixing of the light.

The word actually means 'middle' or 'half-share', but given your reputation with wands, we'll go with that.

Q5: C.E.O. Carter - what does C.E.O stand for?

Charles Edward Oscar.

Incorrect! Charles Ernest Owen - not a lot of people know that.

Q6: What astrological software do you use?

I use two and they are both essential in different ways. Kepler 7 for medieval charts and Time Passages for everything else.

2/5 Psychological assessment of answers:
Overall, I fear that Elizabeth was a little intimidated by my interview technique. I must confess to staring in her eyes and counting backwards from 5 when it was her turn to speak. Still, there's no excuse for not knowing how many zodiac signs there are.

Dorian - we worship at her feet - Gieseler - and bless her cotton socks - Greenbaum Dorian Gieseler Greenbaum
She sings; she writes astrology books about Temperament theory, she translates ancient astrology texts out of Greek, and translates Egyptian and Latin just for fun. In her spare time she engages in PhD studies at the Warburg Institute, London. She can tell her Part of Necessity from her Part of Eros, and knows lots and lots about the Lots. Dorian Gieseler Greenbaum (her friends call her Dorian Greenbaum for short), is a multi-talented astrological superstar ... so how did she fare in her interview ...?

Q1: What is best, Saturn in Cancer on the midheaven by day, or Saturn in Aquarius on the midheaven by night?

Oh my ..., that is a good question. I would normally say that Saturn in a day chart behaves better.

[ And... ? What does that mean? Is that your answer then?]

Oh, I have to pick?

[(nails tapping)]

- I'll go with Saturn in the day chart.

I would have gone the other way. But come to think of it, I can see how hard that one is for someone who takes sect very seriously. I'll be generous and give you half a point.

Q2: Name a fixed star or constellation that is associated with dishonesty and deceit.


I can't give you that. You've just picked the first fixed star you can think of with a bad reputation. There is nothing specifically connected to dishonesty and deceit about Algol. If you had said 'Algorab', or I had said 'beheading'

Deb, I haven't even had my morning coffee yet ...

Well, OK. But you still don't get a point for that.

Q3: What is the best way to pronounce the word 'Oikodespotes'?

What ...?? I would pronounce it Oik-o-des-pot-es.

And I would pronounce it rul-er .

Q4: Who is the President of the NCGR?

Madalyn Hillis-Dineen.

No. Madalyn Hillis-Dineen is the Chair of the NCGR, not the President.

Q5: What is Azimuth?

Oh ... (grumbles and mumbles something inaudible about coffee)... it is something to do with the height of the planet ...

I'll stop you right there. It is "the angular distance of a celestial object from due north measured clockwise around the horizon (meaning due east is at 90 degrees)" (according to Wikipedia).

Q6: What is the last astrology book that you purchased for yourself and was prepared to pay full price for?

Under One Sky: Astronomy and Mathematics in the Ancient Near East edited by John Steele (and Annette Immhausen).

/5 Psychological assessment of answers:
This was an early morning interview, and I have to say that Dorian is not at her best in the morning. The psychological assessment I drew from her answers suggests to me that it is always best to interview Dorian after she has consumed her breakfast.

Joseph - we want him for our leader - Crane. Joseph Crane
A professional astrologer since the late 1980s, and co-founder (with Dorian Greenbaum) of The Astrology Institute, Joseph is not only a Hellenistic expert, but also a psychotherapist and a Buddhist practitioner since 1980. Well known for his engaging lectures and publications - he is the author of A Practical Guide to Traditional Astrology (1998), and the more recent Astrological Roots: The Hellenistic Legacy (2008).

Q1: What are the three trigon lords of the Earth triplicity?

I prefer to use the word 'triplicity'; the term 'trigon' adds nothing to the concept of triplicity. OK, that's easy: Venus by day, Moon by night, and Mars participating.

Correct! I only said 'trigon' because I thought you would say 'trigon'. I think it is daft to use a two syllable word when we can take up more space on the page with a four syllable word.

Q2: Name a fixed star associated with widowhood?


[Dorian Greenbaum interjects: "Oh I know the answer to that one Deb! Why didn't you ask me questions like that?"

Deb: "Don't worry, this is only for fun; I'm not going to publish it."


Q3: In astrology today, what does ISAR stand for?

Oh, good question! Wait ... wait...

[ 5 4 3 ]

International Society of Astrological Research.


Q4: What does the word 'Zoidion' actually mean?

It means, well,... it's the territory that we considered governed by a sign of the zodiac.

Why don't you just use the word 'sign'? Sorry, I refuse to give you a point for that ridiculous b***s*** answer.

Q5: According to Dante, where should astrologers go?

That's in Cantos XX - the outer-most circle of malebolge, which is reserved for the fraudulent! What's interesting is that he casts two astrologers - Michael Scott and Guido Bonatti - into the sphere of hell.

...  ... OK, I'll give you that! Interesting. So it's hell for the real astrologers and Malebolge for the fraudulent astrologers. (We're damned if we do and damned if we don't!)

Q6: If you could only choose one, which historical astrologer would you resurrect from hell to invite as a dinner guest?

That's a good one! Only one? This is not my final answer, but my first impulse was to say Dane Rudhyar - because I have such mixed feelings about him; and I'd like to challenge him on some of his ideas because I think the guy was brilliant, but also full of shit. [The subject of Dane Rudhyar continues as Joseph goes on and on...]

So what is your final answer then?

Dane Rudhyar.

So he was your final answer, even though you said at the start that he wasn't. !?! [There is no point in trying to understand these Americans.]

4/5 Psychological assessment of answers:
See what a difference a cup of coffee can make to an American in the morning? Bright, on-the-ball, sharp with his answers, I have to give Joseph credit. He just needs to work on his English spellings, give up the whole-sign houses and the whole-sign aspects, and stop talking about 'Hellenistic' astrology all the time, and I think we could make an astrologer out of him yet.

Robert - friends call him 'Rob', only cheeky people call him 'Bob' - Hand Robert Hand
Only one of the best known astrologers on the planet! Recipient of just about every astrological award there is, including the 'astrologer with the most astrological awards' award. Robert Hand has been a software programmer, a psychological astrologer, a traditional astrologer - he has been an astrologer from all the directions and positions you can think of. He is also a scholar of Latin and medieval philosophy, and is currently completing a PhD on the medieval use of astrology in warfare. I don't have time to list his publications. He didn't really need this introduction but I like hearing the sound of my own words.

Q1: Rob, what would you prefer to have on the midheaven of your birth chart:
Jupiter in Virgo by night?
Or Mars in Scorpio by day?

What a rotten choice! I think, survival wise, I'd probably do better with Mars in Scorpio by day.


Q2: Who wrote the famous book about the bright stars in 379 AD?

Er, that would be Anonymous. He wrote a lot of astrology books, did Anonymous.


Q3: What is the main purpose of the British AA?

Q4: What does it mean if the Moon is a thin crescent and it is lying on its back?

It probably means that it is sunrise just before a New Moon.

Not according to my mum. If the Moon is a crescent and lying on its back, then "the Moon is in a loving position" - that's a good thing.

Q5: What nationality was Ptolemy?



Q6: Excluding the one that I wrote, what is the best astrology book that you ever read?

In terms of the sheer quantity of useful information, I would have to say Bonatti's Liber Astronomiae.

3/5 Psychological assessment of answers:
Robert Hand clearly knows his astrological onions from his shallots, but I have to say, I found his comments about the British Automobile Association rather shallow (and frankly, somewhat offensive). He wouldn't think that way if he did more driving on the left hand side of the road I'm sure.

Demetra - more than merely mortal -  George Demetra George
An expert in Hellenistic astrology, and also specializing in archetypal mythology and ancient techniques, Demetra is the author of Asteroid Goddesses, Astrology for Yourself, Mysteries of the Dark Moon, Finding Our Way through the Dark, Astrology and the Authentic Self (Nov. 2008), and Elements of Hellenistic Astrology (forthcoming). Demetra lectures internationally and leads educational pilgrimages to the sacred sites of Greece and India with Ancient Oracle Tours. She is currently translating a corpus of Hermetic medical astrological texts from ancient Greek. (The woman is amazing!)

Q1: Which planet rules the 1st bounds of Leo?

Oh, erm Jupiter.

Correct! (I assume Demetra uses the Egyptian terms). (Note that I called them 'bounds' out of politeness. I personally call them terms which is more correct. Even Vettius Valens says in one of his books 'the bounds are more properly called the terms').

Q2: In the use of fixed stars and planets, do you consider aspects or just conjunctions?

In the use of fixed stars, only conjunctions.

Interesting. I'm out for the count on this, so I'll just give you half a point for now.

Q3: Who is the President of the Astrological Lodge of London?

I think that is Claire Chandler.

Correct! (Or it was then, but now it is Kim Farnell. I would have given a point for either answer, since if Demetra had answered 'Kim Farnell' that would have been prophetic).

Q4: In which century did Julian of Laodicea live?

Oh, erm, I would say I'm not positive about this my guess is the 6th century.

According to Tamsyn Barton (p.82) it was early fifth century, so I'll keep my point for that one.

Q5: If Mercury is moving from a conjunction with the Sun, and its motion is direct, is it a morning star or an evening star?

It's an evening star.


Q6: Which is the best asteroid?

Oh, well give me a few months to answer this one because I have to sort through a list of 12,000 you know!!

[We don't really have a few months Demetra; just five seconds ... 4 ... 3 ... 2 ...]

Well I think that if I am forced to answer right now then I'd have to say that my favourite asteroid is ... Semiramis - the Queen at the height of the Assyrian astrology period. She was a powerful warrior queen.

3/5 Psychological assessment of answers:
Demetra's interview was surprisingly revealing about her darker characteristics. Note that the only question for which she became enthusiastic and chatty was the one about the asteroids. This tells me two things: 1) Demetra doesn't really care for Hellenistic Astrology (she considers it boring), and 2) although Demetra seems quite normal on the surface, she harbours disturbingly violent fantasies about being a Warrior-Queen-goddess who can unleash mass-destruction on the rest of us. (That makes Demetra 'one-to-watch' IMO).

Chris 'hot blogger' Brennan Chris Brennan
There seems no end to Chris Brennan's list of talents and involvements. President of the Association for Young Astrologers; Research Director of the National Council for Geocosmic Research; Project Leader for a translation project for ancient astrological texts at and webmaster for The Horoscopic Astrology Blog,, and Amazingly, Chris also manages to fit in time for consultations, teaching his own courses and writing his first book entitled Hellenistic Astrology: The Study of Fate and Fortune.

Q1: So Chris, is Mars more powerful in a diurnal chart or a nocturnal chart?

More powerful? It's neither, because day and night doesn't change the power of Mars, only the quality of being benefic or malefic. It's a faulty question.

I see ..! Well I call that a faulty answer. I'll keep that point for myself.

Q2: Name a fixed star from the constellation Sagittarius.


[5 ... 4 ...]

I'm thinking of the star at the top of the bow

[ ...3 ...2]

I'm gonna skip this question.

You can't just 'skip' questions!!! What kind of in-depth personal interview do you think this is??

Q3: In astrology today, what does ACVA stand for?

The American College of Vedic Astrology - they founded in 1993, the same year as Project Hindsight and Kepler College.

And the Traditional Astrologer Magazine too! 1993 was a good year it seems. OK then, correct! (Even though you forgot to mention the Traditional Astrologer).

Q4: In which year was William Lilly born?

Erm ... 1603?

Close, but not good enough to win a goldfish. William Lilly: born 1602 ... died (but not forgotten) 1681.

Q5: What was the original Greek word for sect?



Q6: Not including the one that I wrote, which would you say is the best astrology book of all time?

Christian Astrology.

[Hey, you surprise me. I'm going to give you an extra point for that!]

3/5 Psychological assessment of answers:
I have to say that I didn't care much for Chris Brennan's answers to my early questions, but towards the end of the interview I was warming to him, and by the final question I thought he was tidy. In his choice of best astrology book I thought he showed a rare level of understanding for a Hellenist.

Now with regard to question 1, Mars is more powerful in a diurnal chart, but it is less destructive and therefore more benefic in a nocturnal chart. As Ptolemy explains (in that wonderful example of logical consistency), Mars is naturally a malefic because it is intemperate, so it is aligned to the nocturnal sect because this is the complete opposite of its own, so that its injurious power is broken. Hence, as everyone can see, there is nothing faulty about my personal, in-depth, interview questions!

Benjamin  'I eat Latin texts for breakfast' Dykes Benjamin N. Dykes
Ben Dykes is phenomenal. One minute he has translated the whole of Bonatti, then you just turn away and have your dinner or something, and the next thing you know he's translated 16 works from Sahl and Masha'allah! I reckon he did a huge pile of translation projects 10 years ago, but he's been stockpiling them, waiting for the dollar to fall. (If you want to try and keep up, check his website at

Q1: So Ben, the terms: Ptolemaic or Egyptian?



Just because, I guess.

Good answer. Correct!

Q2: Name a fixed star in the constellation Orion.


I'm going to give you that.

Q3: Who founded the Mayo school?

John Addey?

The clue was in the question Ben. The answer was Jeff Mayo.

Q4: What is Azimuth

The number of degrees relative to North, measured along the horizon.


Q5: Explain - in less than 10 words and 5 seconds - the difference between whole-sign and Porphyry houses.

It's the difference between falsity and truth - how about that!


Q6: If you could resurrect a dead astrologer and take him or her shopping for the afternoon, who would it be, and why?

Masha'allah, because he [my writing here is illegible - sorry. All I can tell you is that it struck me as being an incredibly thoughtful and important comment, which quite possibly explained the meaning to life, the universe and everything].

4/5 Psychological assessment of answers:
There's no messing with Ben Dykes. Even though I had plied him with alcohol and was pulling faces at him throughout the interview, his responses were still impressive. If only he had not given that stupid answer to question three. He needs to learn to think before rushing in to answer questions like that.

Meira  - should have been born English for she is surely wasted on the Americans - Epstein Meira B. Epstein
Meira B. Epstein - Uranian astrologer, patient teacher of the 90° dial; translator of the Hebrew works of Ibn Ezra, and archetypal symbol of intelligence and elegance (visit her website at Meira did not realise that I had interviewed her, but I shared a hotel room with her for a week whilst at the Blast conference at Sedona, and I got to know her so well that I was able to secretly interview her and imagine her answers in my sleep.

Q1: Meira, what is the best way to study astrology?

By studying traditional astrology and Uranian astrology together of course.


Q2: But doesn't Uranian astrology have lots and lots of hypothetical planets?

It does. But remember that we also use tiny tiny little hypothetical orbs to help keep their influence under control.


Q3: So what do you think is the most useful tool for learning Uranian astrology?

The 90° dial!


Q4: And what do you think is the most useful tool for learning traditional astrology?

The translated works of the 12th century Rabbi Avraham Ibn Ezra!


Q5: So where can we learn more about the 12th century Rabbi Avraham Ibn Ezra's use of Uranian astrology and the 90° dial?

Q6: And finally Meira - after declaring you 'the winner' of all these interviews - who is the best astrologer to share a hotel room with?

That would be you: Deborah Houlding.

5/5 Psychological assessment of answers:
All I can say is that if you spend enough time with the rather amazing Meira Epstein, you too will be using hypothetical planets and 90° dials, as you pick your way through the works of Ibn Ezra.

Sponsored by the AA

© Deborah Houlding, Skyscript: 2008.

Disclaimers:1) I admit that there is one comment on this page that is not actually based upon historical reality. 2) Demetra George has recently presented me with more information on Semiramis, which shows that there was more to her than simply being a vehicle of mass-destruction: "Named for the mythical Assyrian queen, wife of Ninus, fouder of Niniveh, whom she succeeded as ruler. Famed for her beauty, wisdom and voluptuousness. She is said to have built Babylon with its hanging gardens, conquered Egypt and much of Ethiopia. Queen of Babylon. 9th century CE."
So there you go. Semiramis is a healthily balanced archetype for the female-warrior-queen who led a very rounded and (at least on the surface of things) creatively-fulfilled life. (But I still think Demetra needs watching. I mean, the signs are there ...).

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