Questioning popular astrology (1) : Anne Whitaker challenges media astrologer Victor Olliver

In recent months I’ve had the pleasure, thanks to Facebook,  of ‘meeting’ astrologer Victor Olliver, the new Editor of UK’s long established Astrological Journal and star sign columnist for The Lady magazine. As well as sharing a love of astrology (and a very black sense of humour), we have already collaborated on several writing projects. This is proving to be great fun as well as being most stimulating.

One of the things I like about Victor is his love of a good argument. So, I decided he was just the person with whom I could raise my various doubts about the merits of popular astrology. I wrote to him, airing my questions and objections at some length. Here they are. Victor’s response will follow in the next post.

Dear Victor

I have always refused invitations to write popular astrology columns, feeling that to do this would be to throw my lot in with the ‘entertainment wing’ of astrology. Those of us who are trained and experienced astrologers know that there is a profound, ancient and some would say sacred art hidden behind this popular mask. Some of us who know this – like yourself – still manage to combine in-depth astrology practice with writing astrology for the popular press, apparently without feeling any particular discomfort at straddling both worlds.

I suppose my big problem is that the astro-dismissers are almost invariably people who have never gone into astrology in any depth, because they never get past the shallow waters of popular astrology where they find plenty of ammunition for their scorn, much of it valid when you have a look around a lot of the astro-stuff published in the world’s media.

Personally, I see off any astro-dismissers by fixing them with a keen gaze, enquiring very politely whether they have ever studied the subject in depth, and responding to their evasions (very few direct admissions of ignorance are forthcoming) by suggesting they go away to study the subject in depth for a couple of years then come back to resume our conversation. As a ‘serious’ astrologer, I have to admit to feeling defensive when asked what I do, invariably saying that I do in-depth stuff which has very little to do with the astrology to be found in the popular press.

Is there any way round this problem? Should we all just accept that astrology of whatever shallowness or depth will simply never be taken seriously within our current materialist culture, and cheerfully get on with it, whatever kind of astrology we do? Would it be helpful if ‘serious’ astrologers who also do popular astrology were to admit that for many of us, the gap between the public face and the private reality of astrology and its practice is a very hard one to bridge?

What are your views on this, Victor? How do you justify occupying both worlds to yourself and others – and what do you suggest those of us do (apart from go boil our heads) who feel uncomfortable at having our commitment to serious, in-depth work ridiculed by people who have taken their stance from perusing the shallow material available in much of the popular press?

Do feel free, dear Readers,  to leave some observations  of your own on this contentious issue – as long as you understand that anything abusive will be binned without mercy!

To read Part Two, click HERE

Zodiac

Zodiac

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600 words copyright Anne Whitaker  2015

Licensed under Creative Commons – for conditions see Home Pag

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15 responses to “Questioning popular astrology (1) : Anne Whitaker challenges media astrologer Victor Olliver

  1. Anne, you have just defined my “hyphenated” personality–“admit to feeling defensive when asked what I do.” I await Olliver’s response with bated breath.

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  2. I don’t have any opinions on this issue myself, but I certainly will look forward to the response. It’s an issue that dogs fields other than astrology, of course: relationship advice, theology, and so on. Actually, many of the “popular” articles on writing that I see linked to on Twitter exhibit some of the same qualities as pop astrology columns. Interesting to think about.

    Easy answers aren’t always the best answers!

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  3. Well, I’ll be most interested in what a sagacious observer like your good self has to say about Victor’s response…

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  4. …from Maureen Genatempo-LoCascio, via Facebook…

    I say “get on with it” I’ve learned long ago it’s not my job to convince others of the validity of Astrology. It works for me and others with eyes that see. I’ve also let go of people who think I’m a bit daft for seeing the truth that’s clearly there for those who see it.

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  5. Thanks Maureen! You are quite right, and in fact I personally get very little if any ignorant hassle from people – but I know that some people do, which is why I framed my challenge in a personal way. I think it must be the way I look at people who might be thinking of saying something derogatory that stops them…it’s that MercurySaturnPluto “say that and you may DIE…” look, I suspect…

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  6. Pingback: Questioning popular astrology (1) : Anne Whitaker challenges media astrologer Victor Olliver | Writing from the Twelfth House

  7. I have your same concerns about “straddling two worlds,” Anne. The one thing I like about “entertainment” astrology? Thanks to those Sun sign horoscopes, almost everyone knows their sign and something about it–and usually something about the other signs, too. This is a great starting point for learning astrology and even discussing how it is more complex than what people read in the daily column. My mantra is to take what they know (their Sun) and explain a bit about the other layers and how they color it. I use the analogy that it’s as individual as a fingerprint. I don’t know how many people have read an astrology book as a result of these conversations, but the way their eyes glaze over and they get quiet–I can tell they’re thinking! I seem to deflect the worst of the naysayers, too, but I think it’s a product of more of gravitating increasingly toward open-minded people the older I get … which is too many spins around the Sun to discuss! 🙂

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  8. Great to hear from you, Jude! The reblog much appreciated…

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  9. Pingback: Questioning popular astrology (2) : media astrologer Victor Olliver’s robust reply… | Astrology: Questions and Answers

  10. Interestingly enough, or one might say, delightful sychronicity, is such that an elderly gentleman who comes into my work said to me this very day… “Oh I was thinking about you the other day as there was a programme on TV about Astrology. I remember you telling me you studied it so it made me think of you. I don’t hold with it of course, all mumbo jumbo!!” I always follow your good example patiently Anne and asked if he knew anything about the subject as the “real” thing is far removed from the entertainment value astrology offered by the popular press. He admitted he did not know anything at all about it and mumbled something about never listen to the popular press on anything. For some reason Astrology seems to always have been the “odd man out”, perhaps explained in part by it’s Uranian/Aquarian links. All we can do as responsible practitioners of our subject is continue to promote its validity with intelligence, patience and humour. I am reminded of an Aries quote…. “God grant me patience -NOW!!!!” We Astrologers certainly need it 😉

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  11. Thanks, Carole, for providing this very typical example of yer average dismisser’s level of astrological information and comprehension! Yes, no matter how much loud yelling and fist waving and hitting over heads with Michelsen’s 20th Century Ephemeris – the Midnight one, with the red cover – might appeal, patience and good humour is most likely to be one’s best approach. Incisive intelligence hardly needs mention. Astrologers by and large are a brainy lot, with more M.A s and PhD s these days than you can shake a stick at…

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  12. Pingback: What is astrology’s place in the contemporary world? | Astrology: Questions and Answers

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