Any approach applied with skill will produce a good outcome if the Astrologer understands how the horoscope is constructed. One of the first distinctions astrologers make in constructing a horoscope is to understand the difference between the “sidereal” time given in the ephemeris and the time indicated on the finished chart. Essentially the difference relates to adjustments made in compensation for the distortion of “time” due to the tilt of the Earth spinning on its axis in its journey around the Sun. Sidereal time simply means “Star Time,” and is perhaps best explained as the measure used by astronomers to locate celestial objects in the sky with precision. However, time in the natural Zodiac is relative from the standpoint of where one stands on earth. The Sun will be directly overhead at Noontime at “different times” of the day relative to a certain reference point, Greenwich, England for example. Time from the standpoint of modern astrology is determined based upon where on “Earth” you stand (where you were born). One of the marvels of the modern scientific approach to Astrology is the attempt at “correcting” this error of judgement as it concerns space-time. Traditional systems that predate advances in math and philosophy work well enough but often lack a certain nuance that ancient practitioners weren’t prepared for since the consciousness of humanity was not yet ready for the increased powers ushered in by the outer triad of planets. As remarkable as some of the Western AND Eastern sages of the past were, their greatness was for their time. Then there are still others who believe that science has not gone far enough, and their efforts apply the “correction” with microscopic precision, for example Estadella and Starkman. Going to such extremes is probably not essential for a consulting astrologer since for the humanistic minded Astrologer, what builds confidence is not measuring every wrinkle in time but having an informed conversation. In other words, when trust builds within the process that guides a consultation, Astrology becomes a tool that frees attention to allow increased focus and concentration on what is being said. Importantly, to attend to what both the astrologer AND the client are saying aa two-way discussion emerges. The chart is “just” a mirror, a lens, and sometimes sandpaper, through which we come to understand our lives better.
Our perceptions color the way we look at the world because of course the lens through which we view life is tinted. Still, we hope for the discovery a of fool proof way to explain our existence that will provide a better grasp on reality than the one we had before, an ambition that has fueled seekers across time. In this spirit, a presumption was made some time back in the 1980’s by a handful of astrologers that ALL the answers to Astrology’s perplexing questions of development could be found in the ancient past. The premise presupposed that what is sought by seekers today had at one time already been found, and that the ancients were in possession of this knowledge. At some point along the way they argue, humanity simply lost the key and arbitrary systems moved in to displace purer forms. Each astrologer wrestles with some form of this dilemma, and the scope of such difficult questions certainly causes the beginner’s head to spin. A logical response begs the question as to whether or not all that we have learned in the interim is of value or not, or do we simply throw the bath water out the window, baby and all?
One of the beautiful attributes of Astrology is its ability to adapt to the times, and to evolve with the consciousness of society proper. Astrology as practiced 500, 1,000, 2,000, 5,000 or even 10,000 years ago was undoubtedly the right Astrology for the time. Applying the sacred art in exactly the same manner for too long causes seekers to lose their grip on Astrology, like missing a software update and keeping up with new releases, the code that worked so flawlessly and reliably begins to falter. That said some remarkable research has been accomplished recently where fragments have been cobbled together to form at least a partial view of what we can suppose were ancient ways of seeing the world. Remaining reticent about such discoveries can be difficult when each stone we turnover starts to look like the “philosopher’s stone.”
My contention for consulting astrologers is that mastering one approach with deference to all other approaches is better than mixing or blending the various ways of Astrology. This may be a minority opinion. But rather than being seen as a “jack-of-all-trades,” and a “master of none,” the astrologer who immerses themselves as deeply as possible into a singular approach may be a better steward of Astrology and more useful in service to their clientele. Each approach has some partial truth but mixing perpetuates distortion. Mixing suffers from a lack of cohesion, and clarity may be sacrificed. This is not to say astrologers shouldn’t be “familiar” with other approaches, but only to say that mastery has merit. With mastery life potential and purpose can be illuminated using any approach in Astrology. Astrologers can zoom in on one’s central focus, identify a complex of needs, and build strategies based on hard won awareness. In this way Astrology is the most amazing tool ever invented. Without the discussion between the client and astrologer, Astrology atrophies. There is no Astrology. Beyond the “tool,” Astrologer’s need to apply essential intuitive perceptions and communication skills that aid in clearly seeing development potential and learn to apply this seeing in a way to help clients make their lives better. To help clients SEE with their own eyes. A first good step for all astrologers in seeing more clearly is to minimize “noise” as much as possible and concentrate on getting as clear a signal as possible. Trust the process as much as the client does and invite Astrology into the discussion, enabling it to emerge unencumbered and without prejudice or a view of the symbolism that becomes too narrow and restrictive.
In my practice I learned to relate the horoscope to the life being lived instead of trying to match the life to the lines and squiggles I was seeing on the page. The more I practice this simple orientation the more individual potential proves the exception to any astrological rule in the Fool’s bag of symbols. Life just seems to have a way of transcending what we know about Astrology, and what we can measure in terms of planets and aspects, transits and progressions.
Life is good. By and large people are good. This knowledge ought to inspire astrological boffins everywhere, regardless of their approach to Astrology. Though sharing this delicate truth with clients may not land well with everyone, because some people live very hard lives. However, no matter one’s station or level in life, as Sri Aurobindo wrote in Letters on Yoga — IV, “evil forces can always attack in moments of unconsciousness or half-consciousness.” It follows then that some consultations will be significantly more important than others, especially if the timing suggests a lack in consciousness at the time of discussion and perhaps a greater vulnerability to some sort of undoing. So, astrologers cannot be cavalier in their thinking that they alone hold the one and only Key to the Cosmos. This work is too important for the astrologer who needs to be right. Astrologers need to be helpful. All Astrology works to some degree, and it is the responsibility of the astrologer to use that Knowledge wisely, and helpfully, and to not let overconfidence blind them from insight. Astrologers can discuss the possibilities for individual potential coming full bloom but must also warn about portentous turns or trouble ahead when tensions suggest “moments of unconsciousness or half-consciousness.” A Saturn-Pluto transit doesn’t have to mean disaster. It might mean hard work on the way to greatness (See Kobe Bryant’s chart). A Neptune transit similarly can be illumination of artistic talent, or a conspicuously ambivalent time where the ego’s will loses power, intentions fade, and self-agency disappears. The identity suffers a period of feeling lost, of feeling “wiped-out.”
The fact that most people do not “believe” in Astrology probably has more to do with astrologers than it does with the nonbelievers themselves. Astrology is really not about “belief,” although even established astrologers feel compelled to “prove” Astrology for some strange reason. An astrophysicist who has never studied Astrology will have trouble understanding the principles at work in Astrology the same way an astrologer might struggle understanding the principles of astrophysics if they’ve never studied the physical nature of the stars and planets. “It’s Greek to me,” is an apt English idiom that explains how not speaking a language makes it difficult if not impossible to understand what the speaker is trying to say. Efforts to prove Astrology only seem to draw rebuke and attack for critics. Charles Kingsley said it so well in a quote I borrowed from Billy Collins in his incredible book of poems called Whale Day: “No one has the right to say that no water babies exist till they have seen no water babies existing, which is quite a different thing, mind, from not seeing water babies.”