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

 

 

 

 

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14 responses to “The ethics of astrological practice: a Question needing an Answer…

  1. It really is terrifying that this woman could have ended up consulting some of the truly awful people who profess to be qualified Astrologers. The list of things that could go wrong are deeply worrying. Insensitive handling in interpreting a chart could be worrying for the person at best and hugely damaging at worst. Then there’s the ones that scaremonger and ask for money because something awful is going to happen or the person will miss some wonderful opportunity only they can reveal. It’s infuriating to those of us who truly strive to promote good Astrology and work to remove the negative stigma that Astrology struggles with due to such people. You were very right to point that out and I do hope both “Ryan” and “Angela” took your excellent advice Anne.

    • Thanks, Carole! “Ryan” has in fact responded in a very positive fashion to my post, and has also challenged me thus: …” 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..”.
      So – I have said it’s an absolutely fair question, and I will turn my reply into a follow-up post next week! Watch this space – and if you ( or other readers) would like to see the interesting comments developing on this blog’s Facebook Page, just click

        HERE

      .

    • Many thanks for your wise words and for sharing your professional and developmental background to becoming an astrologer, Janet. It helps to widen our perspective…

  2. Janet Bowman Johnson, via Facebook, 23.7.16:

    I also was blessed to have majored in Human Development (BA) and Interdisciplinary Consciousness Studies (MA) and had gone through therapy myself. Once you have very accurately described your client and the current issues they are facing, anything you say is very likely to be believed and taken to heart. A huge responsibility! I always stressed the positive side of any planetary cycle. It’s all about how you direct the energy you’re given… Beware the half-assed reader!

  3. Via Facebook 23.7.16:
    Sellieve Ezra Neptune:

    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…

  4. 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. However, I have just copied what was going to be a VERY long reply to your question, having realised that what I need to do is develop it properly into a follow-up post to this one! So – thanks once more for getting me going…and check out my response next week when I’ve had time to properly think through my response.

  5. Via Facebook 24.7.16
    Sellieve Ezra Neptune:

    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 millenials. 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.

  6. These are very fair points, Sellieve. May I incorporate an extract in the post which I am already cooking up in my mind for next week?

  7. Via Facebook 24.7.16
    Sellieve Ezra Neptune:

    Yes!

  8. Via Facebook 24.7.16:
    Sellieve Ezra Neptune:

    Come to think of it, something that could be added in, involving the ethics of astrology… To avoid getting caught in a legal snafu, many astrologers write a disclaimer saying that their readings are “for entertainment purposes only” and any advice should be taken lightly… Even though I don’t have the credentials to be an official psychological astrologer, I wouldn’t go as far as to say what I do is pure entertainment, I do take readings seriously when I give them and I believe that what I do has depth and value to one’s soul, and when I do start a blog, I’m wary of degrading what I do with that kind of disclaimer… I’m sure other astrologers can relate. I’d appreciate it if you address this (I’ve read what the OPA has to say about it), as far as how 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.

  9. Beautifully and tactfully put Anne. Indeed, we all have great responsibilities when we give advice to others. Jane x

  10. Pingback: On becoming a responsible astrologer: how do you get there? | Astrology: Questions and Answers

  11. Pingback: Advice on responsible astrological practice – from Donna Cunningham | Astrology: Questions and Answers

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