This blog has its own Facebook Page, where I publish all kinds of astrological stuff – blogs, videos and articles from leading astrologers for instance  – in fact anything astrological which takes my fancy and I think might interest YOU, dear reader. Do go over, visit for a while, leave a Like or even better, a comment. See you there!

The Kepler Conference 20-22 January 2017: Unmissable!

It is my great pleasure this week to be publicising the January 2017 Kepler Conference, to be held at beautiful Coco Beach, in Florida. Gives us all something stunning to anticipate as we emerge from the fog of Saturn/Neptune…Many, many thanks to my long-term astro friend and conference volunteer Maureen LoCascio, who collated and provided all the information in this post. Read, digest, share the link with all your astro-friends, then – book your place!

The Kepler Conference 2017

The Kepler Conference 2017

Says Maureen: there is so  much I want to tell you about the  Kepler Conference 2017. It is being held at the International Palms Resort and Conference Center –  located directly on the beach. Rooms are very inexpensive, after taxes totaling just $111.15 per night. There is a lovely Tiki bar called Mambo’s Beachside Bar and Grille with Live Reggae Music every Sunday. On Friday night Courtney Roberts has planned a welcome reception with free drinks, hors d’oeuvres  buffet and cash bar –  followed by a Star Gazing Beach Party with a local Astronomers Group, weather permitting.

She has also provided links for easy access to book Shuttles to and from the conference for anyone needing transportation from Orlando International Airport or Sanford airport.  On the Monday after the conference, she has organized a tour for anyone wishing to see the Kennedy Space Center – this can be purchased separately from their website.

Coco Beach is located just 40 minutes away from all the attractions in Orlando for anyone wishing to extend their stay in Florida. I can verify that January is one of the best months to visit any of the parks; the weather is beautiful and attendance is low.

Here is a link to the Hotel Venue and shuttles.
http://www.thekeplerconference.com/conference-hotel-transport

The Speakers – and the Research Project

We have a wide variety of Kepler 2017 Speakers, all using different research methodologies, such as David Cochrane’s vibrational astrology along with extreme case sampling, Bill Meridian’s financial market research, Renay’s Oshop’s Mercury Retrograde and the big five personality types, Glenn Perry’s psychological astrology, Courtney Roberts’ sports research… I could go on, but there are as many different interests in research as there are people.

Courtney Roberts

Courtney Roberts

Here, to inspire you, is  Courtney Roberts/Maurice Fernandez,  a Q and A session on how the Conference came into being and what vision Courtney holds for the Conference in the future.

We hope to provide a foundation of what constitutes good astrological research and if we believe we have found something, to seek peer reviews of our work which hold up to current scientific research standards. Here is Courtney Roberts’ summary of  The Growing Evidence for Astrological Influence – just to whet your appetites!

I also wanted to alert you to our ongoing research incubator page. We are always searching for new data from willing participants to further our research endeavors. Maybe some of your readers might be inspired to contribute their birth data to our data collection incubator? ( note from Anne W: how about it, folks? I’ve done a fair bit of astro-research myself, but would have got nowhere without willing volunteers and accurate data) 

http://www.thekeplerconference.com/research-incubator

Further Information

The Kepler Conference 2017

The Kepler Conference 2017

 

 

 

 

 

http://www.thekeplerconference.com/the-kepler-conference

http://www.thekeplerconference.com

Have a great Conference, folks!

(‘might even see you there!’ says Anne W)

Zodiac

Zodiac

550 words copyright Maureen LoCascio/ Kepler Conference 2017/Courtney Roberts/Anne Whitaker 2016

Licensed under Creative Commons – for conditions see Home Page of Writing from the Twelfth House

The lunar eclipse in Pisces – how is your lunar eclipse day, so far?

How is your day so far, as the lunar eclipse’s power builds? I have had a very strange day: didn’t sleep too well, feeling scratchy, raw, went into city centre to drift around some shops, could not settle, feeling alternately drifty and unfocused then surging with the need to DO something useful. Eventually got into my office. Various bitty irritations awaited me. Suddenly felt sleepy. Got myself by the ear. Wrote a post. That’s better…

The Virgo/Pisces eclipse season began in mid-September 2015 with a partial solar eclipse at 20 degrees Virgo. It concludes at the end of February 2017, including four attendant lunar eclipses, with the last of four solar eclipses taking place at 8 degrees Pisces. Today, on Friday 16th September, 19.55 BST,  at 24 degrees 20 minutes Pisces, there is a lunar eclipse following on from the solar eclipse which occurred at 9 degrees 21 minutes of Virgo on 1st September 2106, 10.08 BST.

lunar-eclipse-16-9-16

lunar-eclipse-16-9-16 (click to enlarge) 

Excitement is already mounting, since eclipses tend to produce “power surges” and crises of various kinds in our collective life. One striking lunar eclipse-related  example this week is of Democratic presidential candidate Hilary Clinton’s much-publicised falling ill and staggering into her car, helped by aides, as she left the 9/11 commemoration early, suffering from pneumonia.

 Although she appears to have bounced back quickly, appearing in public again on Thursday looking cheerful and well, nevertheless this episode has not helped her presidential campaign against Donald Trump, who is running neck and neck with her in the polls at present.

And what of their impact on our personal lives? How does that work? What should we expect from the September 2015 – February 2017 season of eclipses?

Research Revelations

My major objective in conducting research into The Moon’s Nodes in Action – ebook published in 2015 – was to put actual flesh on the bones of all the theoretical stuff I had been reading about the Moon’s Nodes and eclipses over a period of many years. I wanted to find out whether the theory stood up in practice, arriving at my research conclusions via detailed study of  six people’s lives.

Three of the participants were ‘ordinary’ citizens: Marc, Andrew and Anna, and three were famous: Mary Shelley in relation to  her authorship of  Frankenstein on her first Nodal Return; Princess Diana of the UK and her untimely death on her second Nodal Return; and astronaut John Glenn’s return to space, in his 70s, two whole Nodal Returns after his first space trip.

Honouring the Sun/Moon link I chose three women and three men – viewed from planet Earth at solar eclipse times, the Sun and Moon are of equal size and complementary symbolic significance…

Drawing together all the research threads by way of conclusion, I had this to say about eclipses:

I’m quite clear now, as the Nodal axis regresses through the chart, identifying via the highlighted houses the overall territory up for change, that the transiting eclipses function as “battery chargers”, gradually building up the energies of the person’s life in preparation to receive major change.

An image comes to mind here from the female menstrual cycle, of the egg gradually being primed and prepared until it is at its maximum point of readiness to receive the male sperm, conceive and begin new life. I think the eclipses begin their work of charging-up as soon as the relevant eclipse season begins, which may be as long as eighteen months before the turning point in the person’s life appears. (i)

General points to observe

Individual eclipses are important, and can be viewed as progressive stages of an unfolding process. However, my research and subsequent astrology practice as well as personal observation has demonstrated that one should take note of the whole eclipse season of eighteen months, applying this to whatever pair of houses the Moon’s Nodes and eclipses (both solar and lunar) are moving through by retrograde motion. You should also take careful note of those planets/Angles/asteroids (if you use them) which are being triggered.

It is also very valuable, in gaining perspective, to go back to the previous eclipse season nineteen years previously, to reflect on the changes brought then and how they may connect to what is coming up this time around.

The more planets Saturn, Uranus, Neptune and especially Pluto are involved in the eclipse dance, the more life-changing are the outcomes likely to be. As Alexander Ruperti wisely observed in his wonderful Cycles of Becoming:

“Eclipses simply measure intense confrontations with all those things in human nature which hinder spiritual progress by keeping one in a rut, albeit a comfortable and happy rut. They are opportunities to use the past and the present – all that one has previously acquired, as well as where he stands at a given moment – in order to build a more creative future. Since they always challenge an individual to discard all limiting influences and to start something new, they may be stressful times.”(ii)

As always, I am interested in your feedback from YOUR experiences. How is your eclipse day going? What changes have there been in your lives since mid-September 2015?

lunar eclipses

lunar eclipses

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ENDNOTES

(i) The Moon’s Nodes in Action by Anne Whitaker (Writing from the 12th House e-publication 2015) p 120

(ii) Cycles of Becoming by Alexander Ruperti,CRCS 2005, quoted in The Moon’s Nodes in Action, p 7

–––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––

I am offering this research study, featured in 2015 on www.astro.com, as a FREE download to any student or teacher of astrology who is interested in learning more about a fascinating topic.

Download The Moon’s Nodes in Action now [3.27 MB PDF]

e-publication by co-occurrence

e-publication by co-occurrence

******

850 words copyright Anne Whitaker 2016
Licensed under Creative Commons – for conditions see Home Page

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Tarot Readings – the clients’ view

 ‘Exploring the psyche – via the Tarot should have given the reader some idea of the depth from which the Tarot can be approached, of issues raised by its practice, and of how it can be used as a valuable aid to self-development.

Here, the second part presents feedback from two clients, one female – Anya – and one male – Marc. They were chosen for the way in which they brought together, in their respective accounts, elements of most people’s responses to the tarot creatively and responsibly used.

I was also interested to show how Marc wove his experiences of very different symbol systems ie tarot, astrology and the I Ching as well as more conventional psychotherapy, into his long struggle to arrive at a place of reasonable balance in his life again.

Both names are pseudonyms.

The Tarot

The Tarot

 From Anya, a female client in her late thirties:

……This felt like an extremely powerful experience and I could hardly believe the cards which were turned up. A number of the cards made a direct impact on me as I realised their significance. Some of the other cards were more difficult to connect with at the time, but have since shown their relevance. All in all, it was an extremely affirming experience and offered me the support I so badly needed at the time – gave me something positive to hold onto.

Meaning continues to unfold as time has progressed, and I feel (six months on) that I am shifting into another phase, having embraced each of the cards’ messages in turn.

This experience has underlined for me a sense of being part of something much larger and greater than myself. This is awesome! I take faith from this. I found the pictures on the cards most evocative and enjoyed looking around ‘within’ the pictures.

The experience remains with me as an affirmation of my life over the last six months. In many ways I can see that I am at the place of ‘final outcome’ in the reading, certainly having lived through and faced that which I most needed and feared.

Without the reading, I feel that I would have gone through the experience in much the same way. However, holding on to the most positive aspects of the reading offered me vital support and helped me make connection with my inner strength. Furthermore, the element of warning and caution in the reading helped me to be extremely aware of my need to protect myself. This helped sustain me during a most harrowing time. I look forward to my next reading very much!’

The Sun

The Sun

From Marc, a male client in his mid forties, extracted from written feedback he provided:

‘…..The best way I can think of to approach this, is to answer the question ‘why did I go for astrology and tarot readings at all, especially bearing in mind my previous contemptuous rejection of such things?

Well, as you know, only a catastrophe got me there! My previous, very rational, world view having collapsed in some considerable disarray, I had a desperate need for some other source of ‘meaning’ in my life – or rather, some other ‘meaningful’ way of understanding myself and what had been happening to me. I don’t think I was too interested in prediction, only in gaining insight.

I graduated to the tarot reading from several astrology readings and from participation in your astrology classes. Astrology was powerfully attractive for me – after I had crossed the Rubicon of ‘letting go’ of my previous contempt – because within its own terms it is in fact another vast rational system of understanding the universe. What I mean is, even if you think the whole thing is nonsense, it is nevertheless internally consistent, rational nonsense. Hence it rapidly became acceptable to me.

Moving on to the tarot was perhaps my way of travelling further down the road away from rationality, just to see what it was like. By April last year, my worst times were over and I was feeling the green shoots of recovery. Psychologically, I think I had come to terms with what had happened to me and was beginning to look to the future. I had sent the divorce papers to my estranged wife, but she hadn’t yet returned them, and I was experiencing pangs of doubt about what I really wanted.

Before, with astrology, I was looking for insight; now, with the tarot, I was looking for a method of choosing – but one that was different from what I had done before, one that involved some kind of surrender on my part. That’s not clear. What I mean is – all my therapy with you brought home to me how much energy I have always devoted to creating a picture of reality inside which I then lived. But it turned out that my reality wasn’t reality after all. By relying so heavily on my rational powers, I had created a faulty picture of how things really were.

Tarot seemed appealing because it involved allowing the universe to show you what reality was. If you made an initial commitment to the ritual, surrendered control, the turn of the cards would show you where you stood. I see the I Ching in essentially the same light, and the notion has a ‘thrilling’ aspect to it precisely because I have been so controlled in my life so far.

The Lovers

The Lovers

What was the experience of the reading like? Given that I was dipping my toe in previously uncharted waters, it felt slightly unreal. I couldn’t ‘believe’ in the tarot as easily as I could in the more ‘systematic’ or ‘rational’ astrology whose terms of reference, unlike the tarot, arise from physical bodies we can actually see in the night sky. But it was thrilling.

I would have to say that I hadn’t fully committed myself to the outcome, but I was much more open to what was going to happen than I could ever have been in my life before. It was an experiment. It was a valuable experience – it helped me to work out my real feelings about my ongoing divorce and about career choices. But it was the talking stimulated by the cards that did that – they were a mechanism for releasing talk and thus feelings.

My tarot reading suggested that I needed to consolidate choices I had already made in my heart, and move on to new commitments on the basis of the wisdom I had achieved through experience. I did in fact go ahead with my divorce, not without further emotional upset, and have in fact consolidated my relationship with my girlfriend.

My experimentation with both the tarot and astrology has led me to an appreciation that many aspects of our lives are ‘fated’ – but that does not obliterate free will or personal responsibility. On the contrary, it seems that everyone has the responsibility of understanding the purpose of his or her individual life – which will depend on his or her inheritance at the start – and has the freedom to choose to make the effort of understanding, then the freedom to do something with the knowledge – or not.

My response to the pictorial images on the cards? You know, for a Presbyterian Scot, I’ve decided I could go in a surprisingly big way for all kinds of pictorial religious symbolism! The allure of forbidden territory? I got the same reaction recently at the temple at Samye Ling (a Tibetan Buddhist monastery in the Scottish Borders). My senses were drenched in gold, red, blue, green and in accompanying sounds and smells! Seriously – perhaps a slightly infantile thrill at ‘surrendering’ my destiny to pretty painted pictures with supposedly magical powers.

I am intrigued with the idea of ‘drawing lots’ either via the tarot or the I Ching, and I think it’s something I’ll probably do again. The idea of choosing by ritual is powerfully attractive to me because, if done with full commitment, it could of course represent the placing of trust in something outside myself. But it remains an aspiration, not an accomplishment…


Well, there you are! That’s the best I can do to recall my reactions to the experience….

Tarot Deck

1400 words copyright Anne Whitaker/’Anya’/’Marc’ 2016
Licensed under Creative Commons – for conditions see Home Page

Exploring the psyche – via the Tarot

 Tarot cards, in the richness and variety of their images and symbols, have exerted a fascination over the human mind and imagination for hundreds of years. Just as the origins of the tarot itself are shadowy and mysterious, so participating in a tarot reading can transport both the reader and client to a level of experience which defies the linear world of the rational mind, yet holds it own validity and wisdom.

People regard tarot cards with feelings ranging from the wary and fearful, to the gullible and accepting, to the angry and dismissive – they are rarely indifferent. A reading, done well, can let us see how our personal journey brings together aspects of the ever-repeating pattern of life, as represented by the seventy-eight cards. This awareness of connection to the timeless human struggle can bring dignity and meaning to our individual experience, especially in times of difficulty and turmoil.

Tarot Deck

This two-part article is an attempt to explore the Tarot. The first part should give the reader some idea of the depth from which the tarot can be approached, of issues raised by its practice, and of how it can be used as a valuable aid to self-development.

The second part presents feedback from two clients, one female and one male. They were chosen for the way in which they brought together, in their respective accounts, elements of most people’s experiences of the tarot creatively and responsibly used.

Approach

How, then, should one use the tarot as a reader, or approach it as a client? My overall experience has led me to a holistic perspective. From this standpoint everything in existence – material and spiritual, microcosm and macrocosm, inner and outer – is seen as connected with everything else. Time itself is seen not in terms of separate measurements of days, hours, and minutes, but in terms of unity : thus a moment possesses its own meaning, carrying particular clues regarding its relationship to past, present and future.

This view of time is best expressed via Jung’s concept of synchronicity which conveys the idea that each moment in time possesses unique characteristics expressed on all levels at once.

In applying this concept of time to consulting the tarot, the Greek notion of ‘kairos’ – the right moment – is highly relevant. In order to have a meaningful encounter with the tarot several core conditions need to be present. Firstly, the client should have a strong desire to clarify whatever is the issue of the moment. Secondly, the reader should be open and receptive to the client’s need. And thirdly, they should both respect the medium, ie the tarot cards, which they are about to consult.

The Reading

This being the case, the cards are chosen and laid out at a particular moment in time. What happens? It is impossible to know fully – and mystery is part of the potency of the experience.

But you could look at it this way: a biologist cuts a section through a piece of tissue, lays it flat on a slide, uses staining material to bring up the features, then puts it under a microscope bringing the section into clear focus. If s/he is skilled, a detailed picture of the organism from which the section was taken can be built up. This analogy can be applied to the moment the tarot cards are chosen, laid out in all their glowing colours in a particular order or spread, then interpreted by the joint efforts of reader and client.

This section cut through time, the moment of choosing, in some mysterious way seems to reflect the current life of the client. It also carries, in symbolic form, information regarding how s/he came to be in this situation, and some ideas regarding possible courses of action and future outcomes.

Moirai - the Three Fates

Moirai – the Three Fates

Fate or Free Will?

Nobody knows what the balance is between fate and free will. Observation and experience of the flow of life at an inner and outer, personal and collective level eventually leads most of us to form an opinion of this profound topic. Just as there seems to be a connection between who we are and the kind of life we have, so it may be that fate and free will, past, present and future are all part of the same weave – and cannot be separated.

I think that free will rests in our ability to use self-awareness, slowly and gradually developed as fully as possible, in working with the grain of our own lives. It may be our destiny to face certain unalterable circumstances; but the level of awareness we bring to the challenge profoundly affects the level on which we are able to live with the outcome.

Tarot cards should not be seen as implying a fixed and fated future; in my opinion this approach is crippling to a person’s ability to lead their life creatively, restricting any sense of their own free will. Perspective on this point can be gained by considering the parallels between the modern physicist’s view of probability, and that presented by the symbolic pictures on the faces of the tarot cards.

Briefly, the physicist observes the shifting dance of waves and particles and is only able to suggest future outcomes in terms of statistical probability. The tarot reader can observe and describe core energies, in their symbolic form, at work in past present and future – but can only speculate regarding the range of possibilities which flow from each core.

Modern physics has also demonstrated that the presence of the observer influences, however subtly, the outcome of the experiment. By giving definite predictions in a tarot reading, it is highly possible that the reader’s intervention –in some hidden but powerful way – predisposes the client’s life in the direction of the reader’s suggestion.

The Counselling Dimension

The pictorial symbols of the tarot provide a creative framework within which a person can contemplate their life’s meaning and direction, and gain guidance. But the reader, in being approached for his/her skills, is stepping into the counselling role, whether prepared to acknowledge this fact or not.

The essence of good counselling lies in being able to create a safe and supportive environment in which another person can lay out their hopes and fears, clarifying where they were, are and hope to be – and where the counsellor can help their client to see what the inner meaning and creative potential may be in even the most difficult situations, whilst encouraging her/him to take full responsibility for choices made.

All counsellors have a responsibility to use wisely the power they take on by virtue of their role. This means being prepared to subject their own lives to honest scrutiny via training and/or undertaking their own therapeutic journey. Those who take on a role of power without being prepared either to acknowledge that fact, or examine their own motives, are likely to be a danger to the vulnerable people who seek their help.

This point applies especially to those of us who work within the context of the great arts of tarot reading, astrology or the other symbol systems such as the I Ching or palmistry; these are powerful tools, carrying both healing and destructive aspects. Our job is to empower our clients, not to glorify ourselves, and to help them develop creative solutions to their own challenges, not  to become dependent on us.

the-hermit

the-hermit

1200 words copyright Anne Whitaker 2016

Licensed under Creative Commons – for conditions see Home Page

Advice on responsible astrological practice – from Donna Cunningham

I believe that it is important for practising astrologers every so often to get on their shouty soapbox on the topics of  what constitutes ethical practice and how does one become a responsible consultant astrologer.

 I have been doing this in posts during July and August 2016 – and I’m glad to say that both here and over on the blog’s Facebook Page, a great deal of interest revealed in Likes, Shares and thoughtful comments has been the result. In concluding the series for the time being ( I’ll be back on the soapbox again some other year!) I could not do better than share with you master astrologer Donna Cunningham’s excellent article on working responsibly with both the natal chart and transits. Donna has read and commented on the above posts, and has generously given me a copy of

A Responsible Approach to Clients’ Tough Transits

to share with my readers. Feel free to download and share, says Donna. The article also lists many of Donna’s other articles on good practice which would be beneficial for all practitioners whatever their level of experience to read. 

This article, an extract from Counseling Principles for Astrologers,  is a treat: practical, sensible, humane, humorous and clearly the work of a very experienced astrologer in which she shares her approaches to a range of challenging  issues which practitioners face every day in reading charts for their fellow citizens. Here is a flavour:

“…We live in very difficult times, and the world at large is in turmoil. The transits are difficult ones, too. Many astrology clients are fearful about their future but hope for good news, while astrologers struggle to make helpful predictions. Sometimes, however, the things we say can leave them even more anxious than they were before. What, then, would be a healing and empowering perspective on the concerns they bring to a session?

It’s extremely important that astrologers and their clients both understand astrology’s limitations. Natal chart features and transits to them may suggest what’s going on, but they do not set the outcome in stone. Any given placement or combination has many expressions—some challenging, some positive, yet all related. There’s no way of predicting precisely how people will express those features, for much depends on their character, history, spiritual evolution, and choices. What a consultation can do is to help them become aware of their options.

Most of us work from the heart and do the best we can to help our clients. As in any service field, the better prepared we are to understand their emotional responses—and our own—during the session, the better we can serve…”

One of my thoughtful commenters pointed out that many brilliant astrologers have evolved – and practice – without formal teaching or certification. She also made the point that going through formal certification can be so arduous, time and money consuming that it leaves little room for the actual practice of chart reading.  Her view is that stating clearly on one’s publicity where one is coming from as an astrologer, and the considerable effort and commitment it has taken to get there, is going to be enough for her.

I can see the validity of all those points. Nevertheless, I think that having the common sense and humility at least to complete a basic counselling skills qualification, to have experience of being a client oneself in whatever therapeutic context seems relevant, and hiring an experienced fellow astrologer for regular supervision sessions to offer a supportive outside view on the joys and sorrows and challenges of one’s practice, even if it takes one several years to put those conditions in place, should be a minimum aspiration for all astrologers – no matter how brilliant or self-taught they may be.

With those few comments which I hope add up to a series of posts which will be challenging, helpful and inspiring, I send out my very best wishes to all prospective astrology clients, astrology practitioners and students – not forgetting interested members of the public who may be following this series.  May your encounter with the great, ancient art of astrology be inspiring and life-enhancing.

Zodiac

Zodiac

700 words copyright Anne Whitaker 2016

Licensed under Creative Commons – for conditions see Home Page of Writing from the Twelfth House

 

 

On becoming a responsible astrologer: how do you get there?

Well!  22nd July’s post on the ethics of astrological practice,  a topic to which all we astrological practitioners should return from time to time in my opinion, generated a great deal of interest over at this blog’s Facebook page. My dialogue there, with thoughtful astrologer Sellieve Ezra Neptune, made it clear to me that the question of responsible astrological practice needed to be pursued further.

EthicsEthics

The Question

Here is Sellieve’s challenging question: “I do have a question for you Anne 💚. If you tell people that they should only get a reading from an astrologer who has lots of experience reading charts, how does someone get that experience if someone inexperienced isn’t worthy of giving readings yet? It’s that same catch 22 of, “can’t get a job without experience, can’t get experience without a job”. I am an aspiring professional astrologer, with a decade of learning under me, but the number of professional readings I have given is not too many…”

This is a very fair question, Sellieve, and it does indeed look as though I’ve presented a Catch 22. The last thing I want to do is discourage potentially effective astrologers like yourself from ending up as serious professional practitioners.

There are a number of ways from which to approach this question, and I do not claim to have all the answers – a brief post can only cover a few key bases. However, here goes! I should state at the outset that I am based in the UK, so am not very familiar with the specifics of what constitutes professional regulation in other countries.

Mainstream v Maverick

The advantage of belonging to one of the traditional professions recognised by mainstream society e.g. medicine, the law, teaching, accountancy etc is that one has to go through pretty rigorous training and professional licensing in order to be able to practice. This does not rule out bad practice, but it does mean it is kept to a minimum, and offers legal redress to people who have been on the receiving end of such practice.

However, astrologers especially in this reductionist age are very much NOT regarded as being in the mainstream of professional practice, and it is possible for anyone to set themselves up as an astrologer with no training, regulation or background counselling experience whatsoever.

In an ideal world, it should not be possible for people to do this. But as we all know the world we live in is far from ideal. I think the reality is that it is never going to be possible fully to prevent people from abusing their fellow citizens as described by Donna Cunningham  in my earlier post, ie  Awful Things Astrologers Say to their Clients

Increasing public awareness

However, it is my hope that the public is more aware these days of the difference between responsible, quality astrologers and dangerous amateurs. In recent  years, much progress has been made in training and monitoring astrologers through such reputable bodies as eg  OPA, ISAR, NCGR and the AFA in the US, where very high standards are set for what is expected of practising astrologers. Likewise, eg  The Mayo School of AstrologyThe London School of Astrology, Mercury Internet School of Psychological Astrology, the Faculty of Astrological Studies and the Centre for Psychological Astrology in the UK.

I studied with both the latter bodies, and am a member of the Association of Professional Astrologers International to whose ethical codes I  subscribe.

In order to protect ourselves legally, the APAI advises its members thus in dealing with clients:

  1. Explain briefly and in general what astrology is and what astrologers do.
  2. Explain the limitations of the techniques employed, for example: astrology is a symbolic language and offers a balance of probabilities rather than specific certainties.
  3. Describe the service(s) to be provided, for example: character analysis, compatibility assessment – and the scale of fees.
  4. Emphasize that astrology is not scientifically proven and that no reading can be 100% accurate.
  5. Explain, nevertheless, that APAI astrologers will work to the best of their knowledge and abilities in the preparation and delivery of the services to be provided.

How we begin…

Most of us who end up as astrologers have a similar route. First, we encounter astrology in a range of different ways depending on who we are and what our context is, this encounter leading us to being fascinated and compelled to take our interest further.

In my case, I encountered a couple in a launderette in Bath, England in the 1970s who took me home with them, did my chart, and told me I was likely to end up studying astrology or something very like it in seven years’ time. At that time I was both engaged in another professional life, and a dismisser of astrology from the dismissers’ standard base of knowing nothing at all about it. However, they were right…

Then we practice, on friends, family, anyone who would like their chart read – hopefully sticking to the basics of Sun, Moon, Saturn, Ascendant and Midheaven, and even more hopefully, having some awareness of when one is getting out of one’s depth – not going too far into wounding other people through our own lack of expertise and knowledge.

From amateur to professional

It should take quite a while of doing this before one’s thoughts turn to whether becoming a professional astrologer is a realistic possibility. In a follow-up comment to her original question, Sellieve partially answers it herself, by pointing out the following:

“…Not everyone comes to an Astrologer looking for serious advice, sometimes they want a theatrical presentation of their personality, or they find astrology interesting but don’t want to study it themselves… In this such case I think it is better to refer these kinds of clients to less experienced professional astrologers, people like me and other millennials. If someone wants to see an astrologer for counseling, if they want light brought onto a difficult situation, then it is best to refer them to a psychological astrologer, or someone with more impressive credentials than me…”

In the end, how much one gradually realises through this process of initial dabbling the amount of power and responsibility one is taking on by reading peoples’ charts is dependent upon the degree of self-awareness, experience and maturity one has acquired by this point. Personal integrity, which no-one can teach, is also a major factor in determining the path people take when they realise they wish to practice as professional astrologers.

I think that the best possible start for a would-be astrologer is to place themselves at the outset within a clear framework of ethics and guidelines which all the reputable training and monitoring bodies provide and follow those guidelines to the best of their ability.

An excellent recent book to acquire in helping this process along,  is OPA (the Organisation for Professional Astrology) ‘s  The Professional Astrologer which is a comprehensive guide to all aspects of setting up an astrology practice. Do acquire this book, Sellieve, as soon as possible! Master astrologer Donna Cunningham’s Counseling Principles for Astrologers is also an excellent guide for astrologers at this very important stage of their careers.

One of the best books I know which covers the practical, ethical, moral, psychological and spiritual dimensions of being an astrologer is  The Astrologer, the Counsellor and the Priest. by Liz Greene and Juliet Sharman-Burke, based on a seminar given at the Centre for Psychological Astrology in 1996,which I had the good fortune to attend, and which was comprehensive, practical, and thought provoking.

Setting up a practice – some practicalities

Sellieve has added some more comments over on my Astrology: Questions and Answers Facebook Page regarding how to go about setting up an astrology practice to which I responded as follows:

” …I think that you probably need to look around a few astrologers’ consultation/tuition web Pages – you are welcome to look at mine for some ideas –and set up a professional web page stating your approach, what you do and don’t do, qualifications, background relevant experience, and fees. And join a reputable professional organisation eg OPA,  if you haven’t already. And set up a professional email only to be used for your practice. [You will also need to think about how you wish to be contacted initially, where you are going to practice with attendant privacy, recording policy, etc etc.]

I think if you set a context for yourself so that you know clearly what you are doing, who you wish to draw to you by way of clientele, and what your professional boundaries are, then get out there doing a few talks and maybe offering a small beginners class for starters, all that will help.

I set boundaries by saying to people who want me to comment on their charts, that I only do that within the boundaries of a professional consultation. It’s a sacred art, after all, so it should be practised with appropriate respect for both yourself, your client, and astrology. If people want a reading, they can go to your Page then get back to you. That saves a lot of time and energy.

And of course, if people are enthusiastic and open minded without trying to get bits of a reading from you informally, then talk astrology with as many people as wish to hear about the Real Deal as opposed to eg playing ‘Guess my sign!”. Something I never do, incidentally…”

Disclaimer – or not?

One of Sellieve’s later comments concerned the question of adding a disclaimer to one’s publicity, advising that astrology is “for entertainment purposes only”, something which she found disquieting in the same way that I or anyone else would who considers that what they do as astrologers goes into a considerable degree of depth and can not be described as entertainment. Here, I can only speak for myself: I would never add such a disclaimer to my publicity, since I consider a high standard of practice to be my greatest protection against any likelihood of legal action.

She adds “…astrologers could potentially find themselves in a predicament when a client takes an astrological prediction very seriously and it doesn’t come true, or if the astrologer gives advice about what to do in a relationship, the client can hold the astrologer responsible for anything that goes wrong…”

Here we come slap up against the reason why, in my view, anyone wishing to take themselves seriously as an astrologer, or be taken seriously by members of the public as a responsible person, needs to get themselves at the very least some  counselling skills training  (if full counselling training is not at first a realistic option for whatever reason, often finance) as well as having the experience of being in the client’s seat themselves.

Many counselling/therapy training courses will offer cut-price counselling sessions with trainees in supervision. In this way, counselling or therapy of a satisfactory standard can often be obtained without too great a financial outlay.

An important part of an an astrologer’s job is to combine the natal  horoscope with transits, progressions, and other directions in the heavens at the time of the consultation to help clients clarify situations in which they find themselves, so that they can then make their own decisions regarding what to do.

Making definite predictions and advising people what to do diminishes clients’ free will and confidence in themselves, although in the short run it might afford them some temporary relief to hand over those choices to the astrologer – upon whom they can later dump the blame and perhaps threaten legal action, when things do not turn out according to either predictions or advice given.

In conclusion…

This is but a brief sketch. I hope readers will flesh it out for themselves –  starting with the suggestions made for organisations to join and reading to do, enabling them to become clearer about what taking the first steps to becoming responsible professional astrologers involves.

There is far more support available now for the Millennial generation of emerging astrologers like Sellieve, than there was when we baby-boomers started out. That’s great, and how it should be … one of my great pleasures at this stage in my life is to pass on some of what I know and have learned – usually the hard way! – to the generation of talented young folk now arising.

And – thanks so much to Sellieve Ezra Neptune for prodding me into action on this most important topic!

Zodiac

Zodiac

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2000 words copyright Anne Whitaker 2016

Licensed under Creative Commons – for conditions see Home Page

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The ethics of astrological practice: a Question needing an Answer…

I like it when the day throws up a compelling hot topic for my blog first thing – even if I am still half asleep at the time! A particular exchange of questions and answers with two commenters on this blog’s Facebook Page woke me up very quickly. (Their names have been changed)
The Zodiac

The Zodiac

Angela: Do you do astrology ?I would love to have mine done sometime but I don’t know who does it? Any ideas?
 
 Ryan: I’ve stumbled upon dozens of bloggers who give readings, you just have to look…
 
Me: Ryan, it may well be the case that one can stumble upon lots of bloggers doing readings, but Angela needs to be careful to choose someone who is well experienced and qualified, preferably with their work insured and supervised, with an adequate degree of experience in reading horoscopes, counselling training and a well developed sense of awareness of the power and responsibility that is taken on by virtue of reading people’s horoscopes.
 
Donna Cunningham, if you care to visit her excellent blog, has written about the negative and irresponsible things that some people can say when reading their fellow citizens’ charts.
It would be instructive for anyone contemplating booking a reading to go over to Donna’s blog and read about some of this alarming material, which by its existence emphasises the importance of  prospective clients choosing carefully if they wish their charts to be read constructively and responsibly.
Here is a short quote from Donna Cunningham’s 4.12.2014 post, which supports my response to Angela and to Ryan:

“…For many years, I had a monthly advice column in Dell Horoscope Magazine, a Dear Abby type column in which readers wrote their problems and I answered based on their astrology charts. Part of the job description for that column seemed to be putting out fires that other astrologers have set, for I got many letters from readers who were devastated by the way their chart reading was handled.

These letters pointed to the need for true and responsible professional training in our field and the need, especially, for a certain amount of counseling training. Like it or not, counseling is what an astrologer does each time a client comes for a reading….” from Awful Things Astrologers Say to their Clients

Anne W's Horoscope - drawn by hand!

Anne W’s Horoscope – drawn by hand!

I have been an astrology practitioner, teacher and writer for over thirty years now. However, I remain awestruck by the power that astrology holds, when used responsibly with compassion and sensitivity, to offer creative and constructive guidance to clients as their lives unfold.

It is incredibly affirming to be able to say – either directly or by inference, depending on what that particular client needs at that time – “Here is your unique little chip of the cosmos into which you were born. Use the energies therein as best you can, given the gifts and limitations we are all handed at the outset – which I will try to convey to you as honestly and constructively as possible. Try to work with those energies well enough to be able to hand your chip back with a little more light shining through it at the end of your days.”

Feeling connected to an unfolding, meaningful energy weave where each of us has a thread to contribute, is a wonderful antidote to the feelings of anomie, disconnectedness and wondedness which so many people feel at this time of great turbulence and upheaval.

However, the task of placing another person’s life in a context for them which makes their life’s current challenges easier to bear, helping them to work with often very painful circumstances as constructively as possible – how many people come for astrology readings when life is bowling smoothly along? Not many, in my experience! – is not straightforward, easy, or to be embarked upon lightly. It should not be embarked upon lightly or casually.

I can still recall, in the early days of my astrology practice, being extremely grateful that I had had a number of years of social work, psychiatric work, and counselling practice in which to ground my work as an astrologer. There is nothing quite like having to face the limitations of your capacity to help other people, which is a major dimension of social work, to ground you and keep you humble when taking upon yourself the power that being an astrologer brings.

I was fortunate enough to have been a student of Liz Greene’s for most of the 1990s. An entry requirement to study for the Diploma in Psychological Astrology which I completed in 1998, was that all students be in therapy for a year. It was made clear to us, in Liz Greene’s inimitable way, that we should not take upon ourselves the responsibility of  being astrological practitioners without having the experience of a long seat in the client’s chair ourselves.

So, Ryan, I do hope that my response to your casual comment, with which no doubt you meant no harm,  has not left you feeling too winded! And I thank you for making it, thereby giving me the opportunity to put forward my own thoughts regarding the great capacity for doing ill as well as good that astrologers take on when they read their fellow citizens’ horoscopes. “At least do no harm” is the bottom line of the medical profession. It should be ours too.

Angela, if you are reading this, do not be too put off. There are many good, competent, compassionate, realistic, empathic astrologers out there. Just take your sweet time to make sure you seek out a good one!

Zodiac

Zodiac

950 words copyright Anne Whitaker 2016

Licensed under Creative Commons – for conditions see Home Page of Writing from the Twelfth House