Tag Archives: Donna Cunningham

Anne, how do you feel Astrology is best learned?

Whilst my head is down getting three columns done by the end of this month ( aaargh!) , I thought I’d repost some of my thoughts on how astrology is best learned, inspired by astrologer Fernanda Paiva’s thoughtful recent post Saturnian Sobriety:

Thanks once more to Judith Burke for her searching question, and please feel free to post your own thoughts.

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

Talking astrology, mediaeval style!

Learning astrology, mediaeval style!

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…”

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!.


Zodiac

Zodiac

1400 words copyright Anne Whitaker 2017/18

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

 

 

 

Sellieve’s Question: should we mention possible death as a transit’s outcome?

Astrologer Sellieve Neptune has form when it comes to asking me challenging questions! But I appreciate them; it is part of the job of experienced teachers and practitioners, in my opinion, to attempt to guide and support younger members of our profession in the tough but rewarding process of becoming grounded, responsible, effective and compassionate practitioners. A vital part of that evolutionary process is the recognising of both our own limitations – and those of the art of astrology itself.

My last post, on Chiron, produced a considerable amount of reaction and response. At the end of the following extract you will find Sellieve’s question, which I assume was prompted by the following powerful example:

“…A long time ago – I no longer have the chart or notes for reference but still remember the situation – a woman with Chiron conjunct her Moon consulted me not long after her 50th birthday. Chiron had recently returned to that natal conjunction. I recall that Saturn by transit was also probably involved. I asked her whether there was a difficult issue currently involving a key female in her life, and she said yes, that her mother-in-law to whom she had been very close had recently died and she was having difficulty getting over this loss; her deep grief seemed to her to be out of proportion.

I then asked if she had had a similar loss in the first year of her life. It turned out that her own mother had died when she was less than a year old, and that she had felt bereft of mothering until her mother-in -law came into her life, hence her great difficulty with the current situation. Both the client and I were deeply moved by how powerfully the Moon/Chiron symbolism had spoken on Chiron’s return to its natal position. But realising this also helped the client to make more sense of the depth of her grief, and hopefully to process it more consciously…”

From Sellieve: While reading this, it dawned on me that someone I know will have transiting Chiron conjunct their moon after their Chiron return, and their mother might die when this transit happens, not sure if I should tell them or how to counsel them thru this? I’m welcome to hear anyone’s thoughts.

From Anne: Sellieve, once again you’ve raised an ethical question which deserves a considered reply outwith comment boxes.

That ancient basic guideline which we share with all the caring professions is still: ‘Do no harm’.

Introduction

We can describe clearly to our clients the essence of a planetary combination eg Chiron/Moon by transit: but the branches which arise from that core essence are many and varied although all tie back to the core theme/s. So we are not in any position to select one branch and offer it to the client as a possibility – or even worse, a definite outcome! –  if it is something which may raise fear/be undermining or damaging.

It is another matter when (as in the example I gave in this post) the client brings a branch which for them has manifested as a death. It is then our job to help them explore this event in such a way that they gain some understanding, and are able to go forward feeling empowered rather than undermined. 

Working with a client’s Chiron Return

My recollection, regarding the example quoted above, is that I sketched out a core description of transiting Chiron returning to a Chiron Moon Saturn combination, by saying something to this effect: “Your natal pattern is certainly challenging: it can manifest along a spectrum of possibilities from maternal separation or loss of some kind and the need to heal from that wounding, to having a mother whose disciplined professional work as a healer of some kind –perhaps a medical practitioner – absorbed more of her time than you as a child felt was enough to meet your needs.

This might have had the effect of making you emotionally self-sufficient, or the pattern might indicate that you were drawn to the healing professions yourself. But you will need to tell me how it showed and shows up in your life. I can point the camera at what the shot is, but you will need to do the fine tuning to bring your actual picture into focus. What’s your feedback?”

At that point, she told me that she was in fact a nurse – and that her own mother had died in the first year of her life. I then asked her, looking at Chiron’s return to that pattern, whether anything connecting to that early loss had happened in the last few months. She replied that her mother-in-law, to whom she had grown very close, had died recently, triggering her overwhelming grief which she seemed unable to deal with.

We were then able to look at how this recent death had opened the floodgates, as it were, to very old bewilderment, pain and fear still unresolved from her own mother’s death which she could now begin to see was finding its expression in her adult life through the death of her beloved mother- in-law.

Our discussion helped her to put her current circumstances into a more comprehensible perspective, and I was able to refer her on to a very experienced bereavement counsellor since she felt that she needed to do some old grief work on her past as well as on the present.

What could Sellieve do?

So, Sellieve, I think you could  – assuming that the person you mention is a possible client, coming to consult you formally – sketch out in broad terms what her particular Chiron pattern may be, then ask her for feedback so that you can work together on the information she feeds back to you. You could then find out what her current circumstances are in relation to her mother – or indeed key women in her life, or her own emotional state, and take the Chiron Return discussion from there. In my experience, you follow the client’s lead, and judge what you say – or do not say – according to that.

I would certainly not offer the possibility that the client’s mother might die, and if the client, her mother or any of her female friends have serious health issues at this time, I would not venture to discuss any medical condition but refer the person on to an experienced medical astrologer and/or a medical practitioner. It is so important for us to know our limitations, and work within them. That’s why I consider it essential for practising astrologers to have at the very least some formal counselling training, and professional supervision with an experienced colleague.

I hope, Sellieve, that this necessarily limited discussion has at least opened out some of the issues you presented, and given you some pointers.

Last word to Donna Cunningham

I’d like to give the last word to the late Donna Cunningham, generous friend and mentor to many of us, whose input into the series on ethics I did a few years ago on this blog was very much appreciated:

donnafaintbuddhabtr72-hart

 

 

 

 

“…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…”

Zodiac

Zodiac

1400 words copyright Anne Whitaker/Donna Cunningham 2018

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

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…”

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!.


Zodiac

Zodiac

1350 words copyright Anne Whitaker 2017

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

 

 

 

Saturn Return research study needs YOU!

It is my pleasure from time to time to promote quality work from fellow astrologers in our world-wide community. I’ve found over the years that interest in the 29-30 year Saturn Return, that astrological “coming of age” which we all go through at the end of our twenties, never wanes. Working with the Saturn Returns of 29-30 and 59-60 is a special interest in my own astrological practice. So – I am most happy to introduce what looks to be a very interesting and valuable piece of astrological research, soon to be conducted by Erica Jones who keeps a brilliant blog over at Real Imaginal.

Here is the promotional information for the survey:

Through March 31, 2017, professional astrologer Erica Jones is conducting a “Saturn Return Survey” that is open to **select members** of the generation born with Saturn-Uranus-Neptune in Capricorn (1988-89).

The survey link is here:
http://bit.do/SaturnReturn

As thanks for participating in the survey, the first 15 respondents are eligible to receive a 20-minute reading from Erica as a thank you gift. Another 15 of the total remaining respondents will be drawn at random to receive a 20-minute reading from Erica as a thank you, after the survey closes on March 31.

The survey data will be used to help raise astrological community awareness of some of the needs and common experiences of those with the Saturn-Uranus-Neptune stellium in Capricorn, so that astrologers can be better prepared to support this generation through the important life passage which corresponds to Saturn returning to its natal position, i.e., the Saturn return.

NOTE: The survey is open to those born on the following dates:

Feb. 15, 1988 – May 26, 1988
Dec. 3, 1988 – Dec. 9, 1988
Nov. 12, 1988 – Jan. 21, 1989
Aug. 13, 1989 – Oct. 10, 1989

(The reason for this restriction is explained on the first page of the survey.)

Again, the survey link is here:
http://bit.do/SaturnReturn

I do hope as many as possible of you will participate. As my regular readers will know, I love doing astrological research myself: it’s what makes astrology come alive. Many thanks!

Zodiac

Zodiac

********

350 words copyright Anne Whitaker/Erica Jones 2017

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

 

 

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

 

 

 

 

Boundaries and power issues in astrological practice: what are your thoughts?

I consider myself extremely fortunate to have had a former career as a social worker – including five years in psychiatric work – before I discovered astrology, shortly after which I set up a private counselling practice which ran alongside, but separate from, my practice as an astrologer.

This Wonderful Universe

This Wonderful Universe

When I embarked on my Diploma in Psychological Astrology with Liz Greene and the late Charles Harvey at the Centre for Psychological Astrology in London between 1995-8, all students were obliged to undertake at least a year of their own therapy as a condition of entry into the Diploma Course. All the work we did with clients was thoroughly supervised.

On my return to part-time practice in 2012 after a very long sabbatical, the first thing I did was to re-connect with my former supervisor, a very experienced astrologer and psychodynamic psychotherapist: I find this kind of challenge and support essential in keeping an eye on my own current issues in relation to the work I do with clients. Invariably astrology (and counselling) clients bring us our own issues very often, and we need to be aware of this. 

Power and boundary issues need to be discussed more than they are in astrological circles. It’s not sufficient to believe that generalised good will and a desire to help other people will automatically bestow wisdom, good judgement, humility and appropriate restraint on astrologers – or confer automatic protection on their clients. There is much more to it than that!

Master astrologer Donna Cunningham has therefore done us all a big favour by raising the topic of boundaries, power issues, and the awful things some astrologers say to their clients, on her blog Sky Writer. Have a read HERE to enjoy the benefits of  Donna’s wisdom and experience – and do come back to let me know what your views and experiences are, either as an astrologer or as a client – both positive and negative.

Astrology, since it is practised by fallible humans, can wound practitioners and clients as well as offering perspective and healing. It is as well for us to be aware of this…

Zodiac

Zodiac

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350 words copyright Anne Whitaker 2014

Licensed under Creative Commons – for conditions see Home Page