I’d like to talk about what astrology is, and what an astrologer can do for you. There are many different astrologers out there and, to add more complexity, there is a diversity of astrological techniques ranging from modern to Hellenistic to karmic to Vedic, and so on! I believe that every approach is valid in its own right, and no two astrologers practice the same way. Maybe one method appeals more to you than another; or, maybe you can get different beneficial insights from trying different astrologers.
So do you have to ‘believe’ in astrology before seeing an astrologer? For me, personally, the question inherently doesn’t make sense. It would be like asking someone if they have to ‘believe’ in yoga before taking a class. Yoga is a practice, a method, and you don’t have to ‘believe’ in anything to get something from it. An atheist can benefit from yoga because maybe it helps them cultivate more inner peace. Astrology is similar – You don’t have to consider yourself to be a ‘spiritual believer’ to gain something from astrology, though if do you identify with being spiritual, then astrology can become a powerful part of your journey.
An astrologer analyzes your birthchart, which is a snapshot of the sky when you were born. The birth chart is static, meaning that you’ll have this chart for the rest of your life – you’ll have it when you are 8 years old, 18 year old, 38 and even 78. But if you think about it, you are not the same person you were when you were 8 years old-you’ve grown up, you’ve changed, you’ve learned new things about yourself. So how does a fixed, unchanging birth chart give us effective insights if we’re continuously evolving systems in motion? It’s because the mythic language of astrology presents us with a spectrum of possibilities within our own internal pantheon of planetary archetypes. The way I personally practice astrology sees every sign and placement as having a lower and higher manifestation. It is through our conscious awareness that we apply our free will to manifest the higher part of our nature, and evolve past its lower expression.
The chart is like a palette of colors, and you’re the artist who works with their own unique palette. There are some aspects of who you are which are fixed, though you can actively work with what you have to create a number of paintings. I’ll give you an example. Let’s say we were comparing the lives of a devout Buddhist and a dysfunctional alcoholic, and their charts both had Neptune in hard aspect to their Sun – let’s say both people have an urge to merge with something greater than themselves by seeking transcendental experiences. The Buddhist pursues this through meditation, while the alcoholic strives to merge with something beyond themselves by escaping from themself with booze. Now you can bet that the devout Buddhist is more content with their life than the dysfunctional alcoholic, whose habit keeps them trapped in a lower expression of themself.
I personally see astrology as a signpost for self-actualization, which is really just about finding meaning in your life. When I consult with clients, I’m not interested in telling them glib platitudes about ‘following your bliss’, and I tend to reject the New Age notion that happiness is a symptom of personal and spiritual advancement. In my view, if a spiritual path or self-help approach doesn’t confront the dark side of life, then it has no place in mine. Life can be really tough, and you don’t have to be happy all the time to have a sense of meaning and purpose.
The reason why meaning is important is because there’s a big piece of who we are that relates to how we come to grips with why we’re here. This may or may not feel spiritual, nor does it need to. But the end result is this: if you can connect to a sense of passion, then you can go through hell and high water by weathering the storms of life with your purpose- but if you can’t, then it can feel like your life is just slowly draining away.
Astrology is a complex inventory for understanding our personality, because astrology is the most cosmically externalized reflection of what’s going on inside of you. I see astrology as a language, through which, its objective lens can help us reframe our issues to gain more insights. I would never think of myself as a ‘guide’ or authority on anyone’s life or birth chart – because you are your own authority! My job is to interpret the language of astrology to give you some insights so that we can discuss practical strategies for choices you have to make.
Now, astrology and the planets don’t DO anything to us – I don’t believe there is a causal relationship between the movement of the planets and what occurs in your life – I would describe it as a reflective correlation instead. We have to DO things through our free will and choices. So what’s the point in consulting an astrologer if it’s all just up to you anyway? Astrology can shine a spotlight of awareness on parts us which are unconscious, reactive or compulsive. Astrology helps you understand your own programming so that you can choose a different course for yourself, and an effective astrologer will empower you to identify your own agency so that you can make better choices.
Many astrologers practice techniques called progressions and transits, which are generally considered ‘predictive’ work, though I don’t personally think of them as predictions, but as collaborations among you, your relationships and your evolving circumstances. I take a non-fatalistic approach to the realization of purpose, so I use transits and progressions to enlarge one’s scope of awareness, which can help equip you for making better decisions.