‘ The most beautiful experience we can have is the mysterious.’ (Albert Einstein) Engaging with mystery, which piques my curiosity into embarking on processes of exploration and discovery, has been a key feature of my somewhat wayward life.
The most striking example of this was a chance encounter with astrologers who drew up and read my horoscope, stunning me with the depth and accuracy of the picture they were able to paint. I simply could not understand how drawing symbols on a piece of paper could provide a key to my – or anyone else’s– inner world. Determined attempts to penetrate that mystery led me to to the astrological career which I have pursued to this day.
Another mystery, which as a writer I especially love, is how the strands of our lives quietly weave themselves into a pattern without our noticing until much later, sometimes by decades. During my late twenties, a major preoccupation was whether life did in fact mean anything at all. Emerging from many years of nihilism, I found myself unable to sustain a belief that our struggles in this life were meaningless.
On cue, came that life-changing encounter with those astrologers. My astrological studies were partly about unravelling the mystery held by those symbols on that powerful piece of paper. They were also about proving to myself that life was not a random meaningless accident in space/time, but was charged with mystery, meaning, pattern and purpose.
As an astrologer I work ‘blind’ with no information about the client’s life beforehand apart from their chart, allowing my guide on our journey of exploration to be the client’s answer to the question “Why are you here today, and what do you hope to gain from our meeting?”. I realise, a long time later, that this mode has arisen from two formative strands.
The first was the original experience of that ‘blind’ reading of my horoscope, which had such a powerful impact. The second was further affirmation gained from those early studies and practice, aimed at proving astrology’s validity: not just by the time-honoured mode of most of us, i.e. practising on willing friends and family, but also by doing a substantial number of my own ‘blind’ readings.
The latter practice, in particular, provided me with the proof a demanding mind required. With Mercury ruling my chart, conjunct Saturn/Pluto, glib explanations have never cut much ice. As my skills and fluency grew, I found myself able do the same thing for complete strangers that the astrologers had done for me, thereby arriving at the stage to which all sincere and dedicated practice takes us: knowing that astrology works.
Sitting here in morning sunshine, writing and contemplating, I am aware with gratitude of the debt owed to six thousand or more years of tradition in which my practice is rooted. What has astrology done for me, as well as providing an endlessly fascinating career? What do I try to do for my clients and students as a transmitter of that tradition?
Primarily, it has provided a context of meaning where I can perceive my life as a small, but useful strand in the Big Weave. I often say to new astrology students: “ Think of your horoscope as a tiny symbolic chip of the universe’s energy pattern at the time you were born, which Someone handed to you, saying ‘Here – do the best you can with this.’ Your job is to hand it back at the end of your life with more light shining through it than there was at the beginning.”
At a more practical level, my horoscope showed me that, far from trying to iron out my contradictions – a futile pursuit for much of my twenties – I needed to understand them, make peace with them as far as possible, and stop punishing myself for the parts of which neither I nor our wider culture particularly approved. Gradually, I discovered that those darker energies could be channelled creatively, with help from the insights offered by my horoscope. Plutonian power drives come to mind here… I have five planets including Pluto in Leo in the twelfth house, all squared by a third house Jupiter, with Virgo rising. Boy, did I need all the help I could get in making peace with that lot!
In essence, I try to offer my clients and students what astrology has given me. The biggest help people can gain from a horoscope reading, I have found over many years’ practice, is being able to take a step forward in accepting themselves as they are. This can release energy, formerly used in self-punishment, denial or lack of confidence, to be channelled into using their gifts and strengths more constructively. Continuing this work remains a great joy, although these days I concentrate mainly on student mentoring, occasional zoom interviews, and writing.
Yet mystery still remains. One can describe the symbolic patterns of the birth moment, those characters on the stage of a person’s life, with considerable accuracy in essence; nevertheless each pattern has an infinite range of possible manifestations. We can never know until the client begins to tell us their story what level of consciousness they bring to the living of their unique life. Very often, this is what determines how the patterns play out in practice. But beyond that, lies mystery. As Carl Jung so wisely put it ‘… learn your theories as well as you can, but put them aside when you touch the miracle of the living soul…’ The nature of that miracle lies in mystery – as such, forever beyond our reach.
This piece was published (May/June 2017 issue) in my column The astro-view from Scotland which ran for the final three years of Dell Horoscope Magazine: USA’s leading astrology magazine for over 80 years until the Spring of 2020.
©anne whitaker 2023