An Approach to Chart Readings
I recently received the following email from a client:
"Thanks for your reading on Friday at Shambhala. Many of the things you said are opening out into fruitful insights and connections for me, and what I gathered of your overall method and process helps me to take a far more dynamic, interactive and "present" approach to the (and my) material.
Thank you for being there to help move my encounter with astrological tradition from individual study and abstract musing into the realm where it is a tool of a healing practitioner -- just the fact of that different perspective helps me to work more actively with the business of acting with dynamic balance, not just thinking that way!"
My experience of the interaction was that I was more concerned with changing my client's life – by helping him become aware of his predispositions and imbalances, and then showing him how to create more balance and wholeness in his psyche and his life – than simply telling him where each planet was and what it all meant.
In other words, using astrology only insofar as it helped me to know exactly what he needed to hear. What he needed to change, become aware of, and to release. It is for this reason that I believe that being a therapist is invaluable in practicing astrology.
The task in astrology, as I see it, is to let the material in front of you (the charts, tables, and graphs of natal and future influences) become so joined with your consciousness that the words speak themselves. That there is no longer any "I" giving the reading, nor any "facts" to present.
And also for the other person's presence be as important as anything in the room. Their needs, their present state of development and receptivity, their fears, and their expectations are all part of the "bath" that surrounds the astrologer and determines what is spoken.
This may seem obvious to some readers, and horribly metaphysical to others, but it is simply a re-statement of the perspective that all conversations are "God talking to God about God."
And may we have the grace to speak the highest Truth.
Postscript. In mentioning all of this to my sister, she pointed out that astrologers must be conscious of their effect upon their clients. If you tell someone that they are going to be entering a hard time, you pre-program them negatively, discourage them, and definitely don't serve them. Instead, use a softer approach, suggest that some challenges may arise, that can lead to changes in attitude and behavior.
Also, she reiterated that it is simply wrong to present the future as only taking one very specific course. The good astrologer knows that transits can play themselves out in many different ways, and to get too narrow in delineation can limit the listener's understanding of the possibilities arising.
As my Guide Aderan says, "Always aim towards and not away from". Tell people how best to use their charts and their cycles, instead of focusing only on the pitfalls.
The Whole Chart
Perhaps the hardest thing to learn is how to grasp the birth chart as a whole organism, a living, breathing entity.
While some fortunate astrologers, like my ex-wive, are naturally pre-disposed to getting quick and accurate gestalt impressions of the person from the chart as a whole, many of us -- like me -- start with learning the details and then gradually working towards the larger picture.
For those detail-oriented astrologers, I encourage you to, after you've digested the details to your satisfaction (before the reading), that you then take a mental "step back" and see how everything interacts. While counting up the elements, modes, etc. and seeing what is disproportionate in the chart is useful, it is only one step.
We need to feel what it must be like to have one group of planets here and that other group there, and that important third planet there, etc.
In other words, we need to get inside the other person, both astrologically and energetically, and attempt to understand what life must be like from within the chart.
This is hardest, for each of us, if we are too attached to our own styles and values, and easiest when we are at our most open.
We particularly need to spend time dialoguing with, and learning to understand, people who have sign and planet emphases that we don't. For example, while I have Sun tightly conjunct Uranus in the Eleventh house, and have been told by several colleagues that that makes me an honorary Aquarius, in fact it doesn't. At all.
I have no planets in Aquarius, and learning what it feels like to be an Aquarian has been a slow process facilitated mostly by Aquarian friends who have taken the time to inform me of their views and experiences.
Learn to understand and respect each person's unique approach to life, and you'll reach everyone much more deeply.
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