Astrology – what Sun Sign columns CAN’T tell you….


Always being keen to demonstrate that the great and ancient art and science of astrology has much more to offer than its popular face in the sun sign columns would suggest, I thought I’d re-publish the following article which appears on this site on the “Not the Astrology Column” page, but which a number of new readers may not have come across. It is written for members of the general public with an open-minded interest in astrology.

Check it out, and let me know what you think! 

11th Century Horoscope

11th Century Horoscope

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.

Anne W’s Horoscope

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. It feels good to be back!

This wonderful universe

This wonderful universe

Working with the symbolic descriptions of collective and personal life provided by astrology was, and continues to be, a source of much insight.  It offers a route towards integration of the rational dimensions with the intuitive, symbolic and spiritual. Time and time again my clients used to tell me that their Readings helped them to see and to accept who they were more clearly –  and to make better use of the gifts they had been given.

Good astrological practice encourages people to take responsibility for their own lives, and supports their courage to be themselves.

We have not yet found anything which provides the ultimate answer to the puzzle of our  existence on this earth. Astrology is no exception – although it is a fine way of asking intelligent questions  about  what life may mean. It is NOT  a religion. The insights it offers do not interfere with whatever religious beliefs individuals may hold. But  its perspective offers two very important things.

Firstly, a picture of an holistic universe in which our movement through space and time is not  random,  but meaningful. Astrology’s great insight is that the shaping forces or archetypes which govern all of life including human experience, are symbolically connected with the planets and their movements in the heavens as time unfolds.

Secondly, from the horoscope drawn up for the date, place and exact time  of birth, astrology can give individuals very useful insights into the characters who are enacting the drama of their individual life story. But it cannot tell who the director is, what the exact details of the plot are, or what the outcome of the play will be. Astrology, like quantum physics, can only deal with ranges of probability. The rest  is as it will probably remain a profound mystery. 

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Like to book a reading or some individual/small group tuition?

For a full brochure with details of my approach to astrology, qualifications, experience, supervision, memberships and fees, click anne-whitaker-astrologer.pdf

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1250 words copyright Anne Whitaker 2013 Licensed under Creative Commons – for conditions see Home Page

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5 responses to “Astrology – what Sun Sign columns CAN’T tell you….

  1. So, here’s a question. Would it be fair, then, to say that astrology is descriptive rather than predictive? It occurs to me that much of the fascination with newspaper “astrology” columns is related to their use as fortune-telling!

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  2. It’s fair to say that astrology is both descriptive and predictive. There are many facets to this statement but let’s just take a couple of examples. Descriptive: a properly drawn up horoscope using date, place and time of birth can – to use a useful example – allow me to provide you with a clear description of the characters who are acting out the play of your particular life. The Sun represents only one character, thereby revealing right away how limited popular Sun Sign astrology is. The other characters are represented by the Moon, Mercury, Venus, Mars, Jupiter, Saturn, Uranus, Neptune and Pluto ( maybe demoted by astronomers, but remaining very potent symbolically!).Their action takes place against the backdrop of the twelve Houses of the horoscope, each representing a particular sphere of life. Then you have to take the Ascendant (how you appear to the world) the Midheaven (speaking of vocation/life direction) the Nodal axis and planetoid Chiron into account. In addition, you consider and feed back to the client what the interactions between all those factors are.

    Reading a horoscope effectively needs both an experienced and sensitive astrologer and an individual who truly wishes to reflect on their gifts, pains, preoccupations, fears, motivations etc etc etc in an honest and open way. You could describe the horoscope as a static drawing of what is a pattern of living energy ie a human being. So you are working with explaining and discussing a number of different levels of manifestation arising from each symbol.

    I think you have to have the experience of a quality astrology reading fully to understand its power and value.

    Predictive: yes, you can predict very accurately when planetary influences from the unfolding energies through time and space, both in the present and in the future, are going to engage with the energy patterns which can be read from your birth horoscope. Then you can speculate about the level of manifestation of those energies.

    A simplified example: Venus in your natal horoscope represents relationship(s). The planet Uranus represents the urge to break down old patterns and is unpredictable, disruptive in its impact. If this planet is going to be exactly engaging with your natal Venus, eg for the whole of 2015, then I think you can work out without me telling you that this will not be the most peaceful uneventful year in your relationship life! That much one CAN predict, ie the essence of Uranus’ ( or any planet’s) impact.( Personally, I think it is sufficient to describe the essence, and work with the person regarding what they will do with this information)

    But working out what the branches of manifestation arising from that essence might be, is not something which can be done exactly. One might have a few guesses, one of which might be accurate. And there is the danger to the client that if you choose a specific branch to manifest, it collapses a whole range of possible outcomes into one only, ie you as the astrologer help self-fulfilling prophecy along the way.

    There is an awful lot more that can be said about all of this. How about signing up for a class with someone reputable? Maybe I should set up an on-line one myself….

    A final observation on prediction. It is an inexact pursuit for all who attempt it, from economists through weather forecasters through astrologers.The latter failed to spot that World War Two was about to break out, for example, although there are many examples of astrologers delivering exactly the right level at which energies would manifest ( ask google about this, especially the famous prediction about the death of Henry the Second of France….) . Science teaches us that we live in a universe which conducts a great dance between order and chaos, where probability and indeterminacy, not exactitude, are the order of the day. I like that….

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  3. What a wonderful response, and quite understandable.

    Weather prediction as an analogy really caught me, particularly since one of my interests is the way art and science intersect in that field. There’s no question that for short-term forecasting (1-3 days) I can equal or better an entire phalanx of meteorologists peering at their computers. Attention and experience are the variables.

    And the human factor is so important. I just read a blog entry on probability today. As I told the writer, “Here’s how it usually went in my childhood. Teacher: “If you have three Baby Ruth candy bars and three Butterfinger candy bars in a box, what is the probability I’ll get a Butterfinger if I reach in without looking and take a candy bar?” Me: “Zero, because I’m not going to let you reach in the box.”

    So there.

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  4. Many thanks for the positive feedback on my response. And – loved your examples. Three cheers for that ornery human factor!

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  5. Pingback: Six things I love about astrology: for World Astrology Day | Astrology: Questions and Answers

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