Tag Archives: Astrological sign

Does astrology wound as well as heal?

It is easy enough to talk about the positive healing benefits of an astrological framework, providing as it does a major defence against meaninglessness and insignificance.

Feeling connected at a personal level to loved ones and friends is recognised as a major factor in promoting and maintaining physical, emotional and mental health and happiness. Feeling connected at a more cosmic level, which astrology offers, lets us see that we are not random accidents in time and space, but threads in the weave of a greater pattern – very small threads perhaps, but contributors nevertheless. This awareness can promote a sense of spiritual wellbeing.

There is also the sheer fun, excitement and intellectual discovery which the study of astrology brings.

Every bright light, however, has a dark shadow; in the promethean nature of our art  lies its shadow too. It is all very well to steal the gods’ fire, as Prometheus did, with the noble intention of  liberating humanity from some of its bonds with the powerful enlightenment which that fire brings.

But fire burns. It is impossible to light up the darkness of our human limitations of perception, without the hand that holds the illuminating fire being burned by it. It’s not so easy to talk about that. But it does less than justice, in exploring the impact of the astrological model on human consciousness, to concentrate on the healing aspects of the interaction, whilst glossing over the wounding dimensions. Exposure to the model brings both.

On one occasion, I asked a small group of my tutorial students, who had studied and practised for long enough to experience both the light and the shadow facets of our great art, to write something about astrology’s healing and wounding dimensions. I was delighted by the honesty and perceptiveness of their feedback. Here is what ‘Charlotte’(1), 35 at the time of my asking, had to say:

"Charlotte"

“Charlotte”

(click on chart to enlarge)

“ I’ve never really been asked to consider the wounding aspects of astrology in such a direct way before. I did have a bit of a job focusing on the question without the more positive aspects coming up all the time! I think the serious study of astrology knocked me out of the idyllic vision I had had of my family background. I had to accept that my parents weren’t perfect, and the overall effect of this was enlightening but also disappointing. It kind of knocked me into the real world and showed me things as they were which I found quite hard to come to terms with.

Seeing things in black and white on the astrological chart led to a lot of resentment on my part, raising a lot of difficult questions which I’m still working hard to understand. I think this can sometimes sidetrack me and stop me getting on with things, and lead to some disasters which might not have occurred otherwise – although I would say I do have a natural tendency to analyse things anyway. Astrology just provides more scope for this.

There is also the question ‘Why me? Why did I have to have this chart?’ which may be quite childish, but did lead at one time to some resentment at the apparent unfairness of it all. Especially when you are grappling with hard Pluto and Saturn aspects. You know you have your work cut out for you, and that life is not going to be easy. The prospect of living your life with these aspects can be quite daunting and depressing, and lead to a lot of despondency at times.

Another factor that’s hard to take on board is that (astrology shows that) you are responsible for yourself. You can’t go around blaming other people for your misfortunes all the time. You have to take responsibility for your part in the drama. It’s your stuff, and you’re the only one who can deal with it. This can lead to a lot of self criticism on my part, and a good deal of depression if things aren’t working out.

Looking at  it from a promethean point of view, Prometheus stole fire from the gods. He knew he would suffer for it, but he also, I think, knew on some intuitive level that he was doing the right thing. And in the end he was released from his suffering. Personally, I couldn’t not know. Otherwise I wouldn’t have pursued the subject as long as I have. I just hope it works out for me in the end too”.

I was moved by Charlotte’s feedback, which I think sums up pretty clearly some of the more challenging implications of having access to astrological knowledge. Perhaps we need to talk more about that…

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Endnotes:

(1) Not her real name – withheld (along with her data – AA: Birth Cert.) for confidentiality.

 This is an edited short extract from “Astrology: a Healing and a Wounding Art” first published in Apollon, the Journal of Psychological Astrology, Issue 3, August 1999, republished as my 12th Not the Astrology Column in the Julyy/August 2017 Issue of the UK’s Astrological Journal, edited byVictor Olliver.

Zodiac

850 words copyright Anne Whitaker 2018

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

Some thoughts on the Astrological Houses: Placidus, Equal – or what ?

Sooner or later, it dawns on the student or budding astrologer that the method of dividing the inner space in a horoscope into twelve sectors or spheres of life, known as Houses, poses some problems.

Astrological Houses

Astrological Houses

Firstly, since there are a number of different house systems – click HERE for more detail on this – which should you choose?

Secondly, to a varying degree depending on your chart, planets can move house. In my chart, for instance, by Equal House I have no less than SIX planets in the Twelfth House. When I first saw my horoscope in  Placidus houses, one planet, my ruler Mercury, had migrated to the Eleventh. O joy! I need all the help I can get here, I thought then. But, as you will soon see, it’s not as simple as that…

Then there is a further problem. In Placidus, the MC/IC axis always defines the cusp of the Tenth/ Fourth Houses. If you use Equal House, the MC/IC axis can fall through any pair of houses from the 8th/2nd to the 11th/5th. How do you deal with that?

I have worked with only two systems over the years, i.e. the most commonly used ones in the UK – Equal House and Placidus. I used Equal House from the early 1980s perfectly happily, finding that the system worked well for me. Then I changed to Placidus in 1995. I didn’t choose it for any carefully thought through philosophical or practice reasons; it was simply the system used on the Diploma course I was doing. Now, in 2015, I am moving back to using Equal again. For philosophical reasons this time, as you will see shortly.

A class experiment

Ever since a small group of my ‘old’ students persuaded me to run a refresher class for them starting last August 2014, I have really enjoyed returning to astrology teaching. Those students were all very rusty, and wanted to cover the basics again. Inevitably, the question of house division came up. Having covered the core meanings of the houses in an introductory class, we recently spent a whole tutorial looking in more detail at the issue of house division.

The methods I adopted on this occasion were twofold: firstly, I gave the class copies of their charts in Equal House to compare with their existing Placidus charts. Then I drew up a grid, of which we all had a copy. This listed all the planets, Chiron and the North Node as well as the pair of houses through which the Equal House MC/I C axis ran. Thus we could see at a glance those features which stayed the same in both systems, and which ones changed. In some charts many features changed. In others eg mine, there was very little difference.

I have always taught astrology with every student having a copy of everyone else’s horoscopes, including mine. With permissions always asked and given before the start of a course, and appropriate emphasis on confidentiality, this way of working has been very effective. It creates each class as a kind of mini qualitative research laboratory, where astrological theory can be tested out there and then, observing to what extent it manifests accurately in the nuts and bolts of the everyday lives of those present. It is a model which makes for very lively teaching…

We worked our way round everyone in the small group, including me, discussing how interpretations might change, and most importantly, how much that mattered by potentially altering the emphasis on key horoscope themes.

For instance, the Moon in one student’s horoscope changed from the Placidus Ninth house (a location she really liked for her Moon, being both a teacher and an education junkie!) to the Tenth by Equal House, which emphasised the importance of her vocational/career life but not the dimensions of teaching and learning which are both Ninth House concerns. However, we pointed out to her that this didn’t really matter in terms of overall accuracy of interpretation; she really was very well endowed with Jupiterian energy anyway, given her Moon’s trine to Jupiter in Aries, as well as her Sun’s square to Jupiter.

This was just one example in which, whatever shift we saw of planets from one house to another, there was invariably an underlying strong theme in the birth chart, so that the emphasis being slightly shifted in one context made little if any difference to the overall accuracy of interpretation of the whole horoscope. Interestingly, more than half of our small group, despite my having worked with all students with Placidus from 1995, said that they preferred the relative simplicity of the Equal House system.

In my own case, although ruling planet Mercury moved from the sociable, group-oriented Placidus 11th House to join five other planets in the reclusive Twelfth by Equal House, I have an exact semi- square from Mercury to 10th House Uranus in both systems, Uranus also strongly aspecting the Sun and Moon, so the Aquarian/Uranian/11th house ‘tone’ remains strongly emphasised. That Mercury energy also flows from the Twelfth House to an exact sextile to Neptune, and a square to Third House Jupiter in both systems. So any reclusive tendencies brought by the move are well and truly restrained by other horoscope factors!

The students could see from our small experiment something which is fundamental to the accurate reading of any horoscope: strong themes will shine through, whatever way you divide up the circle. As U.K astrologer Robin Heath so memorably observed a number of years ago: “…astrology appears more and more to behave like a hologram. You can perform almost any technique with the data, turn the chart inside out or slice it up, and still the symbolic pictures remain….” (i) Both this statement and our class experiment bore out the conclusion at which I had  arrived some time ago. It doesn’t really matter much what system you use. What you get is the same overall picture…

Horses (Houses!) for courses…

I went on to outline the way some astrologers use different house systems for different purposes. Since the Equal House system is based on the Ascendant/Descendant axis which is the axis of “… here I am in relation to you… “, this system can be used when the client in their reading wishes specifically to address matters pertaining to relationship.

Since the IC /MC axis can be seen as an arrow flowing from the person’s deepest self and origins (IC) to their future direction (MC), then issues of roots, vocation and life direction are most appropriately contemplated, some astrologers think, via the Placidus lens since that system can be seen to emphasise the MC/IC.

Also, although I have never worked with the Koch system myself, I know that some astrologers swear by the accuracy of its house cusps in plotting transits and progressions.

The Equal House MC/IC “problem”

The placing of inverted commas above gives you a clue that I do not see the shifting placement of the MC/IC axis in the Equal House system as a problem at all. Quite the opposite. I think that working with the MC/IC axis against the backdrop of either the 2nd/8th, 3rd/9th, 4th/10th, or the 5th/11th adds a layer of richness to the interpretation of the MC/IC which of course should remain just as focal and important in the Equal House system as in any other where the MC/IC  is always the cusp of the 10th/4th Houses.

For example, I have often encountered clients or students with 2nd/8th backdrops in professions involving finance and collective money, those with 4th/10th backdrops have their strong life focus on career/vocation emphasised. With 5th/11th emphasised, you often find “creative” types who work co-operatively and collaboratively in the pursuit of their careers. And in my own case, the 3rd/9th backdrop is highly appropriate since writing and higher education have been central to all the diverse vocational paths I have pursued throughout my working life.

Equal House: the return

In conclusion, the students were very keen to know why I had decided to return to working with Equal House.  For giving me the final shove in that direction I have to thank Phoebe Wyss and her excellent recent book “Inside the Cosmic Mind” . I  would urge any astrology student or practitioner to read this book if they are inclined, as I am, to perceive astrology as a ‘top down’ art whose practice and interpretation reveals us as expressing in micro form, the shifting macro patterns of the whole cosmos.

In Phoebe Wyss’ own words:

“ Archetypal astrology is an approach to astrological chart interpretation that is based on this cosmological view. The meanings of the chart factors such as  zodiac signs, houses, and planets are then seen to derive from the twelve basic categories of meaning associated with the astrological archetypes. These fundamental cosmic principles and their inter-relationships are symbolised in the geometry of the zodiac…”(ii)

Wyss’ book – which builds on the recent work of Richard Tarnas, Kieron Le Grice and other pioneers in the field of archetypal cosmology – has taken me back and re-grounded me in the basic geometry of sacred numbers, whose symbolism reflects the core shaping principles or archetypes governing the movement of energy throughout the whole cosmos. The number twelve is one of those sacred numbers.

From that symbolic, geometric perspective, dividing the inner space of the horoscope symbolically into twelve equal parts seems more appropriate than using any other house system, including Placidus, whose devising arises purely from measurements limited by the view from planet Earth in relation to the solar system in our tiny corner of space/time 

Endnotes:

(i) The Mountain Astrologer, Issue 78, April/May 1998, Letters p 11

(ii) Inside the Cosmic Mind, Phoebe Wyss, Floris Books 2014, p 93

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  • 1600 words copyright Anne Whitaker 2015/2018

    Licensed under Creative Commons – for conditions see Home Page

Why is the zodiac sign of Virgo called the virgin?

Why is the sign of  Virgo called the virgin?

Virgo

Virgo

This question raises the interesting issue of how the usage and meaning of words changes from one historical period/cultural phase to another. Within our current culture the word virgin when applied to humans generally means sexually intact. However, in ancient times when matriarchal religions were practised, the word virgin and the astrological sign of Virgo held a deeper and more complex set of meanings.

For example, the priestesses who served the ancient virgin goddesses Atargatis and Artemis were anything but virgin in our contemporary sense of the word. They were women who belonged to themselves and the goddess(es), whose duties to the temple were paramount and who owed allegiance to no particular male partner. Indeed, it was commonplace with those priestesses who had children to foster them out. They were too busy with their sacred duties to have much time for motherhood.

(Virgo’s contemporary association with perfectionism, attention to detail, and devotion to work began a very long time ago!)

The eminent astrologer, writer and teacher Dr Liz Greene expresses the essence of what the sign Virgo is about in her “Astrology of Fate” p 215:

“….this issue does not deal solely with sexual matters, but embodies an entire view of life….I would understand it more as an openness to the flow of life, a willingness to trust the natural order, an acceptance of penetration and change….”

In the chapter “Myth and the Zodiac”, pp 211-220, Liz Greene offers a very full account of the complex, paradoxical mythology and symbolism connected to the sign of Virgo. I commend it to you!

If you’d like to read some more factual aspects of this topic, try this Wikipedia link: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Virgo_(astrology).

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300 words copyright Anne Whitaker 2018

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

Why do TWINS hold such fascination? Astrology offers some clues…

This week, I’ve been feeling quietly pleased – and somewhat amazed– to realise that I have been running this blog now for three years. It has been a truly pleasurable experience to share some of my astrological enthusiasms, and experience gained both from client work, student teaching – and Life, the greatest teacher of all. It’s been great to have had such an enjoyable and informative dialogue with commenters, making quite a few new blogging friends along the way. Creating the Facebook Page for the blog has also brought a whole new dimension, with a whole new spectrum of readers and commenters. Thanks, everyone! Keep reading and commenting!

Here is the most popular, most widely read post of the whole three years. What is it about TWINS that fascinates us so much?

Helene’s question:

By email: 16.6.13
How does it work when you do a birth chart for twins? Or two babies born the same minute at the same hospital?  Can two people have the same horoscope!?

Twins

My Answer:

During many years of teaching astrology classes, I found that the above questions came up very frequently.

It is important at this point to emphasise to readers who are familiar only with Sun Signs that to get ‘beyond the Sun Signs’ requires an individual’s horoscope to be drawn up for the date, place AND time of birth. Human beings are complex and contradictory. It’s not possible to approach any satisfying symbolic exploration of that complexity through the Sun or Star Sign alone.

A number of years ago, I decided to address the typical questions students asked about twins (summed up by Helene’s questions here) via one of the tutorial classes I ran for my more advanced students, all of whom had a good grasp of the basics of astrology, and some of whom were already practitioners in their own right.

One student – let’s call her Anna – was the devoted aunt to a set of twins in their mid teens, a boy and a girl –  let’s call them Angus and Miriam. These two had been born less than fifteen minutes apart and had almost identical horoscopes.

I had formulated a theory about twins and astrology which I wanted to test out, so I obtained permission via Anna from Angus and Miriam’ s parents as well as the twins themselves, to calculate their horoscopes and discuss them anonymously in class.

My method was to put up on the board only one horoscope since there was so little difference between the twins’ horoscopes, and ask the students to take an hour to prepare along with me a basic outline of the key characteristics revealed by this one horoscope. We did the preparation as though we were preparing a birth chart for just one person.

The class knew nothing about either of the twins, and I asked Anna to observe us, but not to make any comments at all.

Once we had written up the outline, we spent the next hour discussing our findings with Anna, who knew her nephew and niece well.

I am writing this after a gap of about twenty years and no longer have the notes for detailed reference, so can only give a summary of the essence of what emerged from our discussion.

Anna found our summary from the one horoscope of the basic characteristics of both her nephew and niece to be very accurate. What was very clear was that certain traits were held in common, but that the rest were, as it were, divided up between the twins. To put it very simply, looking at a range of traits: 1,2,3 and 4 were recognisable in both; Miriam manifested traits 5,6 and 10 whilst Angus lived out traits 7, 8 and 9.

This very interesting and enlightening experiment does not of course constitute any kind of proof: but it bore out my impressions from reading about the similarities and differences in the lives of twins about whom I had read, as well as my own observations of twins I had come across from my own experience, as well as the few horoscope readings I had done for individuals who were twins.

What was this impression? Coming back to the analogy of the horoscope revealing the characters poised on life’s stage, waiting for the moment of birth to kick start the action of the play, it seemed that twins unconsciously chose which characters on their joint stage they were going to live out jointly – and the ones which they were going to live out separately.

The experiment which I did all those years ago with my students, Anna and her nephew and niece certainly bore out my theory….

After writing this piece I googled ‘astrology and twins’ to see what came up, and was pleased to find on my favourite astrology site, Astrodienst, that other astrologers including Dr Liz Greene had come to much the same conclusion.

As far as two people born at the same time in the same place is concerned, yes, they would in effect have the same horoscopes.  You would certainly see considerable similarities if you studied both their lives over time. But each character on the stage at a given moment in time has a range of possible modes of expression. Thus the influence of different family circumstances and different opportunities, etc, would call forth a range of possible responses from the same basic character.

To read much more on this topic, do go over to master astrologer Donna Cunningham’s  blog Sky Writer, where she has an excellent piece on the astrology of  twins.

Then come back and let me know what YOU think!

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Zodiac

800 words copyright Anne Whitaker 2013/2016

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

What are the major planetary events of 2016? Question answered here!

Just when I was thinking of putting together a list of 2016’s major astrological events I’ve found the list of those very events on Leah Whitehorse’s excellent site, Lua Astrology. Many thanks, Leah, for compiling this key for us. I will certainly be printing it off and keeping it beside me for reference for the rest of the year.

Here is the link:

And ” What does it all mean?” is sure to be the next question. Well, astrology students out there, go and work it out for yourselves! If you want some help in doing so, there are many excellent astrology sites who will be reflecting from varying perspectives, on what the complex planetary picture for 2016 is likely to symbolise for us at both a collective and a personal level.

Here are a few for starters:

StarIQ

The Mountain Astrologer Magazine and The Mountain Astrologer Blog

Astrology News Service

The Horoscopic Astrology Blog

Enjoy your research! – and do leave any useful information pointers on this topic which you may wish to add, in the comments section. Thanks and all good wishes for Aries New Moon Year 2016 to everyone!

Zodiac

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200 words copyright Anne Whitaker/Leah Whitehorse 2016

Licensed under Creative Commons – for conditions see Home Page

 

Called from the Bar to the Stars…Why Victor Olliver became an astrologer…

Last Spring, I had the fun of Victor Olliver’s company as a Guest blogger whilst we slogged it out – in a civilised manner, of course! – over the merits and demerits of Sun Sign astrology. This January, I am delighted that he has returned to help kick start my blog for 2016. 

A recent article in Harper’s Bazaar, in which four women talk about why they chose to become astrologers, inspired me to tell my story a couple of weeks ago. I then decided to run an occasional series this year, inviting leading astrologers to share theirs. It is my great pleasure to have Victor Olliver, astrologer, author and editor of the UK’s Astrological Journal, tell his tale with his  unique combination of  cheek, challenge, verve – and depth. Over to you, Victor!

Victor Olliver, Barrrister

Victor Olliver, Barrrister

“…It never occurred to me that astrology was rubbish. Such were the many oddities of my early life – born of an Anglo-Italian mismatch into a world of wars that sang love songs while I played playground peculiarity (sorry about all the pees) yet looked like angelic jailbait and had a posh voice despite working class pedigree – that my mind was ready to accommodate exotic and weird notions not readily explained in school physics textbooks.

The sky lab technician who created me in his/her cosmic test tube prepared me well for a world that is essentially, profoundly inexplicable. We dream our way through life and pride ourselves on our logic. Paradox is to be found in everything as we pretend to follow highway codes. We feel our way through life and engage in the charade of decision-making. Yet one by-product of all this chaos and melodrama and hallucinating is that we (many of us) still manage to pay our bills while getting better on prescription drugs.

So, in the beginning, astrology was for me less a ‘topic’, more an arrangement of images in a book, without any unifying thought. Frankly it all looked comfortingly bonkers. At about the age of 12 I’d won a book voucher at school for being clever after years in the dunce stream. I now know that at about the time of my first Jupiter return and not long before my first Saturn opposition, my brains started to grow. The book voucher added to my reputation for being odd (and probably queer – though what did fellow kids or idiot teachers know?) when I exchanged it for a huge coffee table tome about mythology; Egyptian, Babylonian, Greek, Roman, you name it. That copy is still in my library.

What intrigued me was that inanimate humanoid forms made of stone or paint, sometimes winged, diaphanous or bearded, ruled worlds temporal and spiritual. These days such undead powers are called brand logos – so, through the likes of Coca Cola and McDonald’s marketing, I understood by association the idea of mysteries having mastery.

Thanks to those modern sages Russell Grant and Linda Goodman, the stone/plaster/paint gods migrated in my head to astrology where Jove, Mercury, Venus/Aphrodite and others still lived despite the progress exemplars of TV game shows and penicillin. The gods lived through the ‘zodiac’ and those much-maligned media Sun-sign columns, the then top dog of which was Patric Walker (more about whom just below). Incidentally, he was wrongly suspected of murdering his predecessor ‘Celeste’ at Harpers & Queen magazine in order to grab her stars column.

None of this was enough to persuade me to follow in Patric’s footsteps. Instead I took a 25-plus-year detour and became a barrister before embarking on a career in journalism, as you do. But astrology was not ready to give me up. Around the time of my fifth tr Jupiter-Jupiter square (with tr Uranus on my Saturn – and astro scepticism on a high), a glossy magazine commissioned me to interview…Patric Walker. His reputed Libran charm took leave of absence that day as he sat in his hotel bathrobe firing off the odd barb he thought I did not catch. Librans can be so Arien, don’t you think? My acid write-up repaid his put-downs. I concluded he was a right bitch trying to chat me up – but he knew his stuff. I stayed in journalism.

By the time of my 4th Jupiter return, my curiosity about astrology had reached the point where I felt it was time to do or die of boredom. I enrolled at the Mayo School of Astrology and fell under the guiding and sane influence of tutor Wendy Stacey.

This coincided with one of those events that in retrospect one calls ‘fated’. Yes, I didn’t fall in love. That is to say, I started a brief relationship with a notable astrologer called Henrietta Llewelyn Davies (called ‘Henri’ by her friends) – sadly no longer with us. Our eyes met across a crowded room at London’s Groucho Club – an opiates dungeon for doped up media types and their whorish hangers-on. Henri had done well: columns in Cosmo, Woman’s Own, TV Times – astro stuff in The Times. She was psychic, too. She talked a lot about her work, I was fascinated. She encouraged me to learn the art and craft of horoscopes.

And at this time a clairvoyante medium told me that my dead father was with her. Or as she put it: “He’s saying do something with those, oh, they look like, well, whatchamacallit, horoscopes”.

I lost my job, graduated with a distinction diploma in natal and mundane astrology, landed the role of the first-ever stargazer on The Lady magazine (by another misadventure) and then ascended to the heavens of The Astrological Journal editorship.

In other words, the career I should have first pursued flowed like a dream with scarcely an impediment. In contrast, enter a hostile place and all you experience are gremlins and gargoyles. Astrology on the other hand had the air I breathe and the vistas I appreciate. It presented me with a perspective which, in its predication on the unknowable yet adherence to systemic thought and practice, summed up the paradoxes I’d suffered and experienced in other life departments.

I had arrived in Astro-Wonderland. Mad Hatters aplenty.

I couldn’t care less which system of astrology you prefer, or whether you think luminary orbs should be 12 or 15 degrees. It’s all background chamber music to me. No matter what the astro academics like to propound, I know astrology is half instinct, half method.

Without that first half I may as well have been a lawyer…”

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Victor’s website is: Victor Olliver Astrology

Victor Olliver, Astrologer

Victor Olliver, Astrologer

Victor ’s book Lifesurfing: Your Horoscope Forecast Guide 2016 is available exclusively from Amazon in eBook and paperback formats.

Lifesurfing 2016 cover

Lifesurfing 2016

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Zodiac

Zodiac

1000 words copyright Anne Whitaker/Victor Olliver 2016

Licensed under Creative Commons – for conditions see Home Page

 

How I became an astrologer

It has been most interesting following  social media reactions to this recent article in Harper’s Bazaar, in which four women talk about why they chose to become astrologers. So – I thought I’d share my story of how a dismissive sceptic – me! – turned into a devoted practitioner. Enjoy! And remember – never say never…

Anne W's Horoscope - drawn by hand!

Anne W’s Horoscope – drawn by hand!

My career as an astrologer began in a launderette in Bath, England, in the 1970s – although I didn’t realise that at the time ! Befriending a little girl who came to chat whilst I did my washing, I met her parents, Gloria and Seamus; they were astrologers, they said, and would I care to come back to their place for a cup of tea? They’d like to draw up my horoscope, to thank me for entertaining their child.

Well, I remember thinking, nothing better to do for the next hour…….at that  stage I was  scornful and dismissive of astrology, basing my judgement on the Sun Sign material in the media which struck me as general, banal and trivial. I did not know then that  there was a subject of great depth and power beyond  the Sun Signs.

I was puzzled  by my new  friends’ dismissal of  the Sun Sign columns – wasn’t that what astrology was all about ?. “We’re proper  astrologers” they said firmly.“ Your Star Sign (Leo, in my case) only puts one  character on the stage of your life. It’s impossible to describe who you are from only one factor.”

They wrote down my date, place, and apparently vital TIME  of birth, produced various reference books and did complex-looking calculations. Then they drew up my Birth Chart or Horoscope : this was a map of the heavens for the precise time I was born. It was apparently an unusual chart  – lots of planets in the twelfth house, whatever that meant, and strong Pluto, Saturn  and Uranus influences. So what, I thought.

Then came their interpretation into character analysis of the planetary symbols in my Birth Chart, in considerable depth and with a high level of accuracy. The experience shocked me to the core.

How could they be so accurate about my career aspirations? How could they know what my deepest fears were ?How COULD they manage to describe my parents’ core characteristics and some of the key effects they’d had on me ? How could they describe so vividly the restless spirit  which drove me ? I had met them less than an hour ago. They knew nothing of my personal history or life experience.

Worse was to come. “You tell me you’re a total sceptic,” Seamus chuckled . “But your Horoscope shows that you have a deeply sensitive, spiritual side to your nature which you’re currently refusing to acknowledge, preferring to identify with the intellectual and the rationalist in yourself. But I can see from your Chart, and where the planets will be in a few years, that in your early thirties the spiritual dimension will come calling. You are very likely to end up doing something like this yourself.”

What nonsense, I thought. But I had no acceptable way of explaining in rational terms what had happened. Uneasily, I filed the experience away in the pigeonhole reserved for the many incidents occurring in my twenties which did not fit my existentialist  world view.

Fast forward to my early thirties, having forgotten all about Seamus’ prediction. For my birthday that year, a friend gave me an odd present considering my scepticism – an astrology book. It was intelligently and sensitively written; I found myself compelled. My feelings were an uncomfortable mixture of attraction, rejection, fascination and embarrassment. What COULD I say to my friends and family?

Saying nothing, I carried on reading. After a year, astrology still fascinated me. By this time – and by a series of odd coincidences – I had found out about the Faculty of Astrological Studies, based in London. It offered a year-long correspondence course with some lengthy exams at the end of it, leading to a Certificate of the Faculty.

I embarked on my studies in an empirical spirit. If astrology WAS indeed merely superstitious nonsense of little value, at least I would have arrived at a conclusion based on knowledge and practice, rather than ignorance and prejudice. I had moved on sufficiently from intellectual arrogance to the awareness that it was very unscientific, and highly irrational, to dismiss a whole body of knowledge without ever having studied it. I obtained my Certificate in 1983, by which time my studies had demonstrated to me that the astrological model had worthwhile insights to offer.

(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.)

The teaching and practice of astrology became a major strand in my self-employed career from 1985 until 2001 when, following a long health crisis, I gave up all work (except writing!) for seven years. In May 2012, after a very long sabbatical, I returned to my astrological work part time, and teaching in 2014. It feels good to be back!

My first astrologer - self portrait

My first astrologer – self portrait

 

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850 words copyright Anne Whitaker 2016

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