The ancient art/science of astrology has existed for at least 4,000 years, with some estimates as high as 6,000, and every known advanced civilization has developed some form of it.
Yet it has also been perhaps the most controversial and maligned system of knowledge in recorded history. Throughout the ages, astrology has come under fire by many affiliated with mainstream or fundamentalist religions.
Such attacks usually result from misunderstanding. Astrology does not conflict with any religious or spiritual belief, and can – when applied with sensitivity and hopefully some wisdom – be used as a tool to help gain greater understanding on many levels.
As astrologer Jeff Jawer maintains: “We can be Buddhist astrologers, Christian astrologers, neo-pagan astrologers, born-again Jewish, Hindu, Sufi, or agnostic astrologers . . . All that counts is whether or not we help our clients.” (Communicating the Horoscope, Llewellyn 1995)
Most modern practitioners consider themselves part of the healing community, taking a holistic approach to helping people live more fully and more in tune with the cycles of the universe. Many in the general public appear to believe astrologers view celestial phenomena as causing events to happen. Actually we concern ourselves solely with mapping phenomena and cycles, and interpreting correlations.
Astrology is a tool for understanding, and thus neutral in any spiritual or religious debate. A hammer has no opinion about how anything should be constructed. It is useful unto itself, but give to a two-year-old child and you have an engine of destruction. Place the same hammer in the hands of a master craftsperson and she can create a work of art. The difference lies in how the tool is applied — and who is wielding it.
Much as the early practitioners did, astrologers today construct a map of the sky for a given individual’s birth or the time of an event. Various analyses are applied and from the data derived, conclusions are generally based on empiric evidence; i.e., relying on past experience and observation.
The analyses, however, have grown increasingly more sophisticated over time, with new methods being tried, huge computer databases compiled, research findings debated, etc.
How the conclusions based on observing past correlations are interpreted and applied continues to be subjective. Every astrologer has a personal approach, which generally comes under one of three categories: event-oriented, psychological or metaphysical.
Many astrologers only work with the numbers. They feel their clients want to deal with events in their lives. If a certain configuration statistically points to the possibility of a love relationship beginning, then that is the information that should be conveyed to the client.
Researchers working with the financial and stock markets are very much concerned with cycles and historic research, as are those dealing with political or sociological trends. Medical astrologers also utilize astrological correlations to assist conventional therapists in pinpointing possible areas of disease or of vitamin and mineral deficiencies.
Earlier this century, astrological thought took a giant leap forward when it melded with humanistic psychology. Mainstream psychologists estimate the average person uses between 10 – 20% of the potential of his or her mind. Through the astrological chart, we are able to see the whole range of potential, to pinpoint the progress within the cycle, and see where the greatest opportunity for growth lies.
“. . . The humanistic, person-centred astrologer sees the birthchart as a seed-pattern, describing what the individual may grow to become, what he or she is potentially; . . . the birthchart describes what experiences are needed to bring about the actualization of what is at the moment of birth only a set of potentials.” (Michael R. Meyer, A Handbook for the Humanistic Astrologer, Anchor Press/Doubleday 1974)
Many astrologers use astrology as a tool in metaphysical counselling. It is used to see where the past, present or future lessons lie, and to assist the counsellor in determining the client’s progress and current needs. But the interpretation here is very subjective, entirely dependent on the philosophical and spiritual outlook of the practitioner.
After all, “spirituality is, as spirituality does.” At the heart of using astrology wisely is to respect absolutely the level of the person being read. What is to one person a profoundly spiritual statement may to another appear an obvious platitude and to yet another be totally nonsensical.
No matter which type of astrological advice you opt for, the consultant should explain what she sees in terms you can understand. At no time should you allow yourself to feel you are being judged or put down. Before consulting anyone for spiritual advice, it would be wise to make certain the person’s beliefs are compatible with your own. This should be done prior to arranging a consultation. You should also get some kind of assurance about the kind of information you will be receiving.
There is no point to sitting and listening to someone go on and on about your karma if you are not really sure what that means or don’t believe in it. As well, if at any time during any kind of astrological reading, you should feel uncomfortable what is being said, speak up. Or, if you do not understand what is being said, or you feel certain views and beliefs are being imposed on you, you are within your rights to ask that the consultant shift into a mode you are comfortable with. If cooperation is not forthcoming, you should terminate the session.
The bottom line is that you should feel empowered after an astrological consultation – armed with greater understanding of the patterns that are unfolding, you should be better prepared to face the challenges before you. You should emerge from a session more certain of your direction and better able to make key decisions.
Whatever the approach – literal, psychological, metaphysical — we might agree with Tracy Marks, in The Astrology of Self-Discovery (CRCS 1985): “The chart is a map for discovering who we truly are and who we can become when we decide to take charge of all our disparate parts . . . Using astrology consciously, actively, constructively and responsibly, we can both discover ourselves and create ourselves in cooperation with universal forces.”
© 2000 Susan Kelly. This material is copyrighted and reproduced with the permission of the copyright holder. All rights are reserved, including electronic storage and transmission.
If you would like to reach Susan, you can email her at : susan@BeStarChic.com or call (514) 270-8621