Anne, how do you feel Astrology is best learned?

Anne, how do you feel Astrology is best learned? Through books, lectures, classes, or ?

I received this message from Judith on this blog’s Facebook Page several days ago, replying to say I’d deal with it when I had time. But it’s a good, BIG question, more deserving of a thought-out answer than merely via a Facebook comment. I’ve been giving it a lot of thought; there are dozens of ways to respond!

My astrological colleagues will have their own way of replying – I’d be happy to hear their views, and those of current students or folk who are thinking about studying. I spent a happy half hour with one such person on Thursday 30th November 2017, responding to his question about Mercury Retrograde. His fascination with the whole subject was a joy to be around…

In the meantime, here are my thoughts…

My husband Ian, who in his earlier life was a professional actor, once asked a seasoned professional what it took to be a serious member of the profession. The older man replied rather grandly : ” My boy, all you need to be an actor is three boards – and passion…”


So let’s start with the passion.

Picture this scene. There I am, sitting at a cramped old desk in the bedroom of our new house, having just moved, acquired a husband (not ever part of my life plan, by the way!) a half share in his two children, his elderly cat, and his ex wife who at that time lived round the corner from us. Oh yes, and having just changed  jobs.

In front of me is an astrology text book: Margaret Hone’s Modern Text Book of Astrology (most recent imprint 1954 or thereabouts). I am already scared stiff by Margaret, although I have never met her. I am at Chapter Six: Computation. It’s a struggle to understand the maths, never my strong point to put it mildly.

There are mascara stains half way down the page. Mine. “I’ll never ever get this!” I wail to the new husband, who is looking bemused. Less than a year later, having sat a whole week of exams in May 1983, I discover that I have gained my Certificate of the UK’s Faculty of Astrological Studies – with a Distinction in the Calculation paper.

That’s where passion, allied with her much less glamorous but more useful sister persistence, can get you. So that’s where you start, if you really want seriously to engage with the art of astrology. You need to be passionately attracted to those seductive, mysterious, elusive symbols whose sliver of meaningful light cast on your life – very often, first of all,  through the Sun Signs – compels you to engage with a landscape whose depth and richness becomes increasingly evident the further you venture within.

Finding the way 

It’s fascinating to find out how well-known astrologers found their way: HERE are some of their stories, including my own, which is set in a launderette in Bath, Somerset, England; a very long time ago. Then, I thought ( based on the usual total ignorance of the subject) that astrology was a load of old rubbish. How wrong could a person be…

People vary greatly in how they arrive at a reasonable degree of competence and fluency in interpreting astrological charts. This is where persistence and discipline come in. Without those, you are going to remain on the margins: a dilettante, “into” astrology but with no real grasp of the subject. That’s fine, if that’s where you wish to remain. But you won’t get to the heart of the subject without persistent application.

I think my own pattern was fairly typical. First, I had an unexpected encounter with astrologers the accuracy of whose reading of my horoscope stunned me. It came at a time when I was seriously questioning what my life was FOR – and whether life itself was intrinsically meaningful, or not. If strangers could describe my inner world and external life patterns so accurately, I thought, that certainly suggested the likelihood of something meaningful going on in the grand scale ….but the challenge provided to my agnostic resistance wasn’t at that point ripe enough to propel me into exploratory action.

Then seven years later, a friend thrust Alan Oken’s The Horoscope, the Road and its Travellers into my hand saying “I think you should read this.” In order not to offend him, I did, and was instantly compelled to begin studying first of all symbols, planets, signs, houses, aspects. I still have that old, battered notebook with all my handwritten notes in it – and the book with my name in it “Anne Whitaker 1981”.

Next, feeling lonely as a self-directed solo student, I decided to attend a local astrology group.Great,” I thought. “At least here I can get away from everyone who knows me but doesn’t know I’m interested in this weirdo stuff…”

“Hello, Anne, fancy meeting you here!” said the woman collecting entrance fees. It was a colleague from psychiatric social work. My cover was blown from day one. Attending the group led me to joining a class run by Carole Wilson (are you reading this, Carole?!) who held the Diploma from the Faculty of Astrological Studies.After that I just told people I was studying astrology, eliciting the usual mixture of responses from the incredulous to the dismissive, with a very liberal dollop of ” Wow, great – can you do my chart?”

Taking it further

Saying “Yes” and embarking on short, limited chart readings  very quickly revealed two things. One, that I too could study marks on pieces of paper and feed back accurate information to their owners. Two, that there was a great deal of power, and responsibility for using it, vested in the process of reading horoscopes and the person who took on that task. Feeling committed but daunted, needing some consistent high-quality teaching to take me on from Carole’s excellent introductory class, I signed up as a  Faculty of Astrological Studies correspondence student and in due course obtained my Certificate.

But you never can get to the end of  astrological knowledge: it’s too wide, and too deep. I was to further my studies much later on, at the Centre for Psychological Astrology,  by commuting by plane from Glasgow to London from 1995-1998 to complete a three-year Diploma in Psychological Astrology with renowned teacher writer and astrologer Dr Liz Greene and the late great mundane astrologer, teacher and writer Charles Harvey.

I consider myself most fortunate to have spent most of my twenties as a college lecturer, and most of my thirties as a generic and psychiatric social worker and counsellor, since both those strands wove into and greatly supported my work as an astrologer. I was also used to having my professional work supervised: thus, when I went freelance with writing, teaching, counselling and the practice of astrology – on the first Saturn square after my Saturn Return – it was a natural step for me to set up regular supervision for my astrological work.

So – returning to Judith’s question by way of conclusion: Judith, as you can see from this post, you answered your own question in the way you posed it!

Passionate interest, for whatever reason, kicks the whole thing off. Then it’s as you say: books, lectures, classes … and preferably some disciplined study with a reputable, recommended school, leading to a qualification which is recognised in the astrological world – that’s if you wish to establish some credibility as a practitioner and teacher.

There is a great deal more to be said on this topic, including the fact that many well-respected astrologers have no formal qualifications. You can find some of what I have previously discussed HERE if you want some food for thought regarding the professional and ethical dimensions of being an astrologer. I’d like to put on record here my appreciation of the work of the late, great master astrologer Donna Cunningham, who as you will see features very much in the first post in the series you will find by going through the above link.

Enjoy the browse – and many thanks, Judith, for inspiring this post!.



1350 words copyright Anne Whitaker 2017

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




16 responses to “Anne, how do you feel Astrology is best learned?

  1. I dabbled in this from time to time. There is so much to learn and so it goes. Anything worth doing usually is a lot of work. Thank you for your helpful posts.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Great post, Anne! I suppose I am a dabbler…sort of. The more I read, the more I understand little pieces here and there. I suspect it is a less formal way to begin to get some of it. And, yes, it is quite deep and I have great admiration for astrologers like you who bring credibility and resonance to it. Thank you!

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Thank you so much, Anne, for your time and detail in answering my question. I will be following up the links and see where this takes me.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Hi Judith

      glad you’ve seen this. I tried earlier to get back to your original Facebook comment/question, but it wouldn’t let me in! Enjoy the links…and Donna Cunningham’s material is just great…


  4. Via Facebook:
    Ann Porter:
    I laughed at you going to your first class. I’m still in the closet 😊

    Liked by 1 person

  5. Well, life has a habit of finding us all out, Ann! My reaction to my colleague’s being there was to think that resistance was in fact futile… Good luck with your studies


  6. Hi Anne
    Thanks for your interesting response to Judith’s enquiry and I agree with you, this is certainly a big question. Why I made a commitment to study astrology had everything to do with a sense of survival which symbolically created an umbilical safety line connecting me to a better understanding of my way of being. The fiery passion came later when I cut the line, after I learned how to breathe when the waters of life frequently seemed to give me a good dunking. After graduating with my diploma it was raw excitement that followed, the profound sense of knowing I could pick up my sword, confront old fear and move forward. Astrology guided me to a clear vision of why my life seemingly flipped through a perpetual calendar of painful encounters. Then it was joy that followed the excitement, the humbling experience of another individual entrusting me to help them understand their own way of being – to understand their own human qualities. This to me represents the intrinsic wholeness of astrology.

    With my Sagittarius ascendant it’s a sure bet that I will roam off the track, gallop over the hill and far away, so I am aware I need to keep to Judith’s question here. Scholarly students dedicated to learning will likely agree that the study of any discipline takes time and effort, washed down with a cocktail of grit and determination to achieve personal goals. The field of knowledge of astrology remains vast within the structure of its unique history, despite enduring withering times in the West. The practice still rests on its foundations (the influence of the ‘stars’) attested by those who devoted their entire life to stand at the forefront of many who practiced this ancient art in the study of humanity’s relationship with the cosmos.

    So I would say to you, Judith, that the best way to learn astrology is to begin at the place you are called.

    Liked by 2 people

  7. Via Facebook:
    Jennifer Rhind:
    This is a fantastic article. I totally agree – curiosity, critical thinking, discipline, persistence and passion! This post also brought back many memories for me. I was interested in a casual sort of way when I was at University studying microbiology, and was challenged by my peers. I couldn’t really give them a coherent response. Further on down the line, I visited the wonderful Jane Ridder Patrick, and that was the real beginning. Inspired, I undertook the Faculty’s course (and won the scholarship, presented by the late Howard Sasportas) and for a while I continued studying, starting the Diploma. I even visited you – back in the 80s, (I was Jennifer Mackie in those days) and learned even more from this! Then life ‘got in the way’, big time, and so astrology faded into the background as I worked and continued studying in other areas. I am only now being drawn back – thanks to you and your Facebook posts. I am very rusty indeed, but I think that the basics are still there, in my blood and bones! THANK YOU!

    Liked by 1 person

  8. Delighted to hear from you again, Jennifer! One of the joys of the Internet is that many ‘old’ clients and students are finding me that way, and I get to see folk some of whom I haven’t seen for years. With that background of stellar astro – achievement, you should definitely pick up those threads again. Glad my posts are helping!


  9. Via Facebook:
    Liz Bradshaw :
    Wow – it must have been very different learning astrology before the Internet, now it’s so much easier, so many great articles and guides these days, so it’s easy to be a self-taught amateur such as myself. I was delighted to do my first ever proper paid chart for someone recently and to be told I was ‘spot on’! I’d certainly like to take it to the next level and it does seem to be a lifelong study, but yes – you do need to be very passionate about astrology, which I am 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

  10. Just keep that enthusiasm and persistence going, Liz, and you won’t go far wrong…


  11. Via Facebook:
    Valerie Walters:

    Read as many books as possible about all of the signs and their characteristics first, then learn about the houses, then the aspects etc, etc, before you even contemplate setting up an individual horoscope. Then hopefully it should all start to fit into place and to make sense. Afterwards you can start learning the more advanced stuff.

    Liked by 1 person

  12. Happy to endorse all of that, thanks, Valerie!


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