Category Archives: Astrology Article Archive 6 – What is Astrology?

Contemporary astrology and the Big Picture: Linda’s question

….the “grand, overarching explanation for human behavior which you talk about in your question shifts: from the human world with its many, continually evolving viewpoints – depending on geographical location and mores –  to locating all life on tiny planet Earth within the vast teleology of an unfolding and evolving Cosmos.

Thus a truly contemporary astrology  can play its part, as Diaz, Meyers and Smith so eloquently put it recently, through “….  yielding to this broader reality instead of choosing to couch the phenomena of astrology in only familiarly personal ways….”

To read the whole of the latest post on Astrology: Questions and Answers, click below: 

http://astrologyquestionsandanswers.com/2013/11/23/contemporary-astrology-and-the-big-picture-lindas-challenge/

Zodiac

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100 words copyright Anne Whitaker/Armand Diaz, Eric Meyers & Andrew Smith 2013

Licensed under Creative Commons – for conditions see Home Page

Answering a challenge: “REAL astrologers do not charge for their services”

I’ve just received this question about the practice of astrology and felt impelled to address it as fully as possible! Do drop by Astrology: Questions and Answers to read the whole post – and if you are a professional astrologer who has had to deal with this type of question, I’d be interested to have your comments….

“Horoscope” ‘s Question:

Is it true that REAL astrologers do not charge for their services as it is against the code to take profit out of a gift from God to help people? I read this and saw a medium on tele say it.  In these circles it is donations given based on good work.Is this true at all?

Dear Ms/Mr/ X (I am assuming ‘horoscope’ is not your real name)

thank you for raising this interesting question. Before getting down to discussing the issue of  payment of fees for any  professional service, whether the professional is for example a highly trained,well qualified and experienced astrologer, lawyer,  or accountant, it is important to clarify a few points for you.

Your question strongly suggests that you associate the practice of astrology in some way with the practice of mediumship. They are two separate activities. Thus a comment on how mediums operate cannot usefully be applied to the practice of astrology.

Popular Astrology

Secondly, it would perhaps help you if I made clear that there are broadly speaking two main types of astrology. The first type, popular star sign or sun sign astrology, is the kind which most people know about. …to read more, click HERE

Season of Scorpio

Season of Scorpio

250 words copyright Anne Whitaker 2013

Licensed under Creative Commons – for conditions see Home Page

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How astrology works: you, me and the Bigger Picture

One of the many fascinations of astrology is how it shows the ever-changing patterns of the planets symbolically reflecting different kinds of energies in our collective life. If you as an individual are strongly plugged into collective patterns – which you can assess through comparing the natal horoscope with prevailing planetary positions in the here-and-now – it seems as if you are given a tiny chip of the current pattern to work with in your individual life.

Here is a specific example. From the end of 1992 until the beginning of 1995 there was a particularly difficult combination of planets, which when it shows up tends to symbolise warring, destructive energies at work in our world. I’m talking about the Saturn/Pluto combination.

Every time these planets have connected in the Twentieth century the collective context has been war – they were linked at the start of World War 1, then at the end of the Second World War when we were confronted with the horrors of the two holocausts, Nazi and nuclear.

This combination formed a key part of the planetary backdrop to the Arab/Israeli war (the State of Israel was born under the Saturn/Pluto conjunction of  1947/48) in the Sixties; the Falklands war in the Eighties; and 1992 saw the upsurge of the Balkan War. Over the following two years we saw in Europe a fierce and brutal period of terrible carnage – as well as genocide in Ruanda and various other horrors at different locations.

(AND: the atrocity of 9/11 took place during the subsequent major Saturn/Pluto combination in the autumn of 2001)

From 1992 to early 1995, I observed individuals, whose horoscopes showed them to be strongly plugged into this pattern, going through deeper and darker traumas in their personal lives, much of it involving family fate issues, than I had ever seen before. Because my own horoscope involved this pattern, I had to go through some very painful and difficult times regarding my own family of origin. It seems to me that I drew to me, as a practitioner, clients plugged into the same overall pattern as myself.

On a much lighter note, there was a dynamic, exciting, challenging and disruptive planetary combination during 1997/8, repeating again during 2010/11, with which I became so obsessed that I wrote a book about the first one (published 2009, eventually….) and later wrote a whole blog, involving the experiences of 10 volunteers ‘plugged in’ to the second one, for the entire 2010/11 period, called “Tales from the Wild Ride”. Intrigued? Then click HERE.

I love that old Shakespearean quote – ‘there is a tide in the affairs of men’…..if you practice astrology often enough, and for long enough, you can see the tides of history, the changing patterns of the times, running through the lives of individuals whose charts you read. It’s fascinating…and awesome….and, it would appear, addictive!

As a friend observed to me recently : “You can take the girl out of astrology – but can you take astrology out of the girl?” The answer to that would appear to be “No”….as I prepare to return to the practice of astrology after a long sabbatical. Never say never, indeed!

Astrologer at Work - Mediaeval Style!

Astrologer at Work - Mediaeval Style!

Readers’ comments on this post or this series of my reflections on returning to the practice of astrology are welcome. Any rude or offensive comments, however, will be binned!

600 words copyright Anne Whitaker 2012

Licensed under Creative Commons – for conditions see Home Page

What is my job as an astrologer? Where do I stand?

My  job as an astrologer is to help other people understand themselves more clearly. I don’t know what the balance is between fate and free will any more than any one else does. But the Birth Chart or Horoscope suggests strongly that we come into this world, not as tabulae rasae ( blank slates)  but with certain characters on the stage poised to live out a complex drama as the process of our life unfolds from birth to death. 

Example Horoscope: Charles Dickens

Example Horoscope: Charles Dickens

What astrologers cannot do is describe the whole range of possibilities of expression which arise from each core character on the stage.

There appears to be a dynamic relationship between what you have been given through family physical and psychological inheritance ( the Old Norse word for fate also means genitals!), location, social status, and your own choices in what you do with what has been given.

I think that effective astrologers in consultation are poised on the interface between fate and free will – on the one hand helping clients to confirm who they are, which they probably already know, if they are honest with themselves; but on the other hand helping them to see, and to broaden, the range of possible expression of the energies with which they have been born.

The astrologer’s ego should have a minimal influence on the process of reading another person’s Horoscope. It’s impossible to keep ego completely out of it. It’s impossible to be completely objective, to avoid making mistakes; but what the person takes away should be as much theirs, and as little the astrologers, as is possible.

To maximise this outcome I feel it is very important to have my work regularly supervised by an experienced and well-qualified colleague. I am fortunate to have been able to organise the support of a very experienced astrologer who is also a psychodynamic psychotherapist as I prepare to return to regular practice.

The main focus in this new phase of my astrological work is in vocational guidance, and in helping people who feel themselves to be on a developmental path which is rooted in whatever their sense of meaning may be, to gain an enhanced sense of clarity and perspective. Having been very much influenced by Buddhist philosophy in the last decade, in my own life I try to practice living in the present as effectively and mindfully as possible. Thus I will be looking at the relationship between the patterns present in clients’ natal Horoscopes and how that relates to the here-and-now patterns of the planets in the heavens. Looking at future trends will not be part of my orientation.

I’m only interested in working with clients who are prepared to take responsibility for themselves in relation to the way in which their inner world is connected to the unfolding of their outer life. Astrology appropriately used should enhance the sense of personal responsibility – not take it away and hang it on the planets, or even worse, on the astrologer !

In my view it is important for people not to become too dependent on a symbolic context – astrology and astrologers like relationships, drugs, sex, alcohol or the national lottery can become highly addictive. The great symbolic arts, eg astrology, tarot, palmistry , I Ching, should be consulted with deep respect, and with considerable restraint.

                    In sum – I think it is my job is to send people away feeling more able to operate constructively and honestly in their world than when they came in, by supporting their courage and confidence to lead their own lives using their own judgement. 

However, I also consider it important to have a refer-on list of reputable therapeutic practitioners of varying disciplines, if it becomes apparent from our reading that the person consulting me needs some form of ongoing help. In assessing this, a long background as a counsellor as well as an astrologer I regard as being of immense help to me – and therefore, I hope, to my clients….

Astrologer at Work - Mediaeval Style!

Astrologer at Work - Mediaeval Style!

Readers’ comments on this post or this series of my reflections on returning to the practice of astrology are welcome. Any rude or offensive comments, however, will be binned!

To be continued….

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700 words copyright Anne Whitaker 2012

Licensed under Creative Commons – for conditions see Home Page

What is an astrology reading? What can it offer you?

The purpose of the “Not the Astrology Column” theme on this blog is to introduce open-minded readers to the in-depth astrology which lies behind the entertainment facade offered by the Sun Sign columns. We are living in a time where awareness of the ‘interconnectedness of all things’ is fast returning to the forefront of public consciousness across the world. The evidence is piling up increasingly starkly: what happens in one part of our world impacts everywhere.

The ancient maxim As above, so below has thus never seemed more relevant. The art and practice of astrology has been based on that maxim for at least six thousand years. Astrology links what happens in the individual and collective lives of human beings to the movement of the planets through the solar system of which we are part. As contemporary astrologer, writer and philosopher Prof. Richard Tarnas so eloquently puts it in “Prometheus the Awakener” (1993, p8)

“It is astrology’s extraordinary insight that these complex, multidimensional archetypes which govern the forms of human experience are intelligibly connected with the planets and their movements in the heavens, an association that is observable in a constant coincidence between specific planetary alignments and specific corresponding archetypal phenomena in human affairs.”

Popular astrology as found in the media can only give a very general picture of one dimension of the person. It’s simply NOT possible for this astrology to describe in any detail  who you are, since it focuses only on where the Sun is (ie in Pisces, Aries, Virgo etc) on your birthday. It’s like trying to tell the story of a complex play with reference to only one character on the stage.

Using this analogy, you  can only get a view of all the characters on the stage of your life from the map which an astrologer draws of the heavens at the particular TIME and PLACE, as well as DAY, of  your birth.

This map or Horoscope or Birth Chart can then be used as a tool to mirror back to you, as lucidly as possible, with great care for your sensitivity and level of awareness, what the different characters are on the stage of your life and how they interact with one another.

After many years of doing readings professionally – and keeping my hand in by occasional informal readings during my long sabbatical – I think the central thing that an individual gains from an astrology reading is confirmation of who they actually are: what their  strengths and weaknesses are, what their gifts and their difficulties are. It gives them more confidence and courage to be themselves. It is a very powerful and potentially spiritual experience to have a stranger, who knows nothing of you, describe your essential qualities accurately from a map drawn of the heavens.

The other great gift that astrology can offer is that of saying: this is your moment in time, through which you are connected to a process which was unfolding aeons before you were born, and will continue long after you have departed. You are a unique strand in the weave of life, you have a contribution to make, using the energy that you have been given as fully and as creatively as possible.

Feeling meaningfully connected to relationships, family, community, and whatever Big Picture sustains you – as countless contemporary research studies in psychology, education and other related fields have shown – is an effective antidote to those feelings of alienation and pointlessness which our materialist culture seems to be amplifying rather than reducing.

Astrology readings, done with compassion, skill, sensitivity and professionalism are one way of contributing to promoting a sense of connectedness.

Astrologer at Work - Mediaeval Style!

Astrologer at Work – Mediaeval Style! 

Readers’ comments on this post or this series of my reflections on returning to the practice of astrology are welcome. Any rude or offensive comments, however, will be binned!

To be continued….

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650 words copyright Anne Whitaker 2012

Licensed under Creative Commons – for conditions see Home Page

What is astrology? And – never say ‘never’!

Some years ago I closed down my astrology practice. I shredded all my case files and notes, chucked out all my leaflets, packed 18 years’ teaching notes into a large box and sent them off to an Eastern European astrology group who were looking for English language teaching notes. To my not inconsiderable surprise, I have found myself in recent months gradually feeling drawn back to practice as an astrologer after a very long sabbatical. “Never say never” strikes again! 

To this end I have been busy re-contextualising myself professionally: re-reading my favourite astrology books (which I had the sense NOT to give to Oxfam! ); organising supervision with a highly experienced and trained psychodynamic therapist who is also an astrologer; arranging membership of professional bodies,  and insurance; compiling refer-on practitioners’ lists for clients needing more support than a one-off horoscope reading can provide; learning to record on MP3 files using recording software instead of the old battered hand tape machine I used to use; setting up different payment arrangements now that cheques are no longer guaranteed – 

and in my view the most important thing of all, ie composing a leaflet which tells prospective clients what astrology is, what the limitations of ‘Sun Sign’ astrology are, what a horoscope is, what an astrology reading can offer, and what my approach is, as well as clear statements of fees, times, and the all-important disclaimer now advisable in these litigious times. It is very enjoyable and quite demanding, doing all this. 

I started off with writing the section of the leaflet which sets a background context. It is far too long for a leaflet and will need to be considerably shortened. So I thought I’d publish it as a blog post. Any feedback welcome – but anything rude or offensive will get binned!

What is Astrology?

“Six thousand years ago, when the human mind  was still half asleep, Chaldean priests were standing on their watchtowers, scanning the stars.”

 (Arthur Koestler from The Sleepwalkers)

This wonderful universe

This wonderful universe

The story of humanity is one of an unending attempt to create some recognisable order from the chaos of our earliest origins. In order to survive and evolve as a species, we have  created contexts for ourselves over many millennia from our interpretations of the world around us. Modern science has shown us that we are part of an interconnected universe of mind-boggling complexity, in its minutest essence a vast energy field, ever moving and changing to the shifting dance of waves and particles – chaos and order forever interweaving, forever returning to and arising from the Quantum Vacuum, or in Buddhist terminology the Void, or in Western spiritual terminology, the Ground of our being.

The vivid quotation from the philosopher Arthur Koestler illustrates the origins of the ancient art and science of astrology – literally ‘the study of the stars’, whose basic precept “as above, so below” demonstrates that our modern understanding that we live in an interconnected cosmos is not a new idea at all. It has been around ever since we fragile humans, vulnerable to the vagaries of a tempestuous earth with its storms, earthquakes and floods, began to evolve a context of meaning by plotting with increasing sophistication as time went on, the movements of the heavenly bodies in the starry skies above us.

From observing the regular patterns and cycles followed by those heavenly bodies, and recording with care what links there seemed to be between such movements and the ebbs and flows of human life, the early astrologer/priests began to be able to determine (with varying degrees of accuracy – prediction in any field of endeavour has never to this day become an exact science!) the fate of the king and the nation according to the movements of the planets. Personal horoscopes plotting the patterns of individual life were unheard of until the first century or so AD.

Modern-day astrology is very different from the fate-ridden pronouncements of the past. The twentieth century saw big shifts in our understanding of science, history and culture which moved us from the Modernist era of  ‘grand narratives’  describing with confidence and conviction the way we are as humans, to an altogether less certain set of perceptions.

Just as modern science has shown us that there can be no absolute objectivity since the presence of the observer can be shown to influence the outcome of the experiment, so we now live in a Postmodern era where we understand that we are embedded in the unfolding action of the plot of life on Earth. Thus we shape our ‘reality’ even as we are living it – and indeed recognise that there are probably many ‘realities’. Absolute truth is not what it once was!

Astrology, too, has moved with the times although there are still many reputable and respected practitioners who stick closely to traditional methods of interpretation and prediction rooted in antiquity. Knowledge of astrology doesn’t result in harmonious agreement – even if it is to differ! – amongst astrologers. Far from it. In that respect, we are just as riven with conflicts and disagreements as any other human group.

Modern psychology, rooted in the great insights of Freud and then Jung who was basically a mystic, more eclectic and open minded in his knowledge base than Freud, has had considerable impact on how astrology is now taught and practised.

In antiquity, the planets were seen as gods whose interaction with and action upon humans’ lives determined their fate. Jung’s great contribution to the modernising of astrology in the 20th century was his formulation – from the study of universal myth – of the concept of the collective unconscious, an updating of the ancient idea of the World Soul. This collective unconscious comprises a group of energy patterns or archetypes, an idea taken from the Greek philosopher Plato, which are present in all cultures across the world and which shape every aspect of human behaviour.

Jung’s view was taken up by the first of the great psychological astrologers Dane Rudhyar in the middle decades of the twentieth century, and further developed by other astrologers, most notably well-known Jungian analyst, astrologer and author Liz Greene whose fusion of mythology, Jungian psychology and astrology further shaped the model known as Psychological Astrology which has become very influential in the thinking of many contemporary astrologers, myself included.

To be continued….

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1000 words copyright Anne Whitaker 2012
Licensed under Creative Commons – for conditions see Home Page