What Every Student of Astrology Should Know
1. When first learning astrology, don't rush too quickly far afield. The mastery of the basics: signs, rulerships, elements, modes, planets, and houses is essential. Avoid trying to learn more minor or esoteric factors in the first year of study.
2. Use common sense. Most people do not end up being the richest, smartest, or most talented (or worst!) in their field. Try not to melodramatize or exaggerate the meaning of specific chart factors.
3. No absolutes. No single factor or position will either guarantee success nor doom a specific area of life to failure. Take everything in the chart in context with other astrological, environmental, and societal factors.
4. Teach, don't discourage. Help those whose charts you are reading learn how to love themselves, how to strengthen their talents, how to work with their challenges, and how to resolve their internal differences. All parts of each person deserve to be fed.
5. Be careful with predicting. As Alan Leo pointed out almost a century ago, if you scare someone about a future cycle, you may actually cause them harm (even predispose them to have problems). Many cycles that look like they'll be intense are not. Many don't even manifest at all. Therefore, if you need to err, err on the side of minimizing, instead of overdoing, your cautionary statements.
6. Remember free will. Clients will marry those you tell them not to, and can make other decisions that you might not agree with. The sanctity of free will is absolute. Always respect your client's right to choose their own path.
7. Test your ideas. Over 90% of astrologers use the house system that their teacher (or favorite author) uses, instead of testing the various house systems to see which works best for them. When a client doesn't relate to a specific interpretation, assume that they know what they're talking about, and explore why it didn't work. By challenging what you read and have been taught, you can become a better and more accurate astrologer.
8. Recognize the uniqueness of every chart and every person. You will never see two charts that are exactly alike, even amongst twins. If you let the individuality and uniqueness of each chart speak to you, your readings will become a truer reflection of the person.
The Two Zodiacs
Perhaps the most perplexing thing for most astrologers (and most difficult to accept) is the validity of using two different Zodiacs, one based on the seasons (Tropical) and one based on the constellations (Sidereal).
I have frequently heard both Western and Vedic astrologers staunchly defend their choice of Zodiacs, and attempt to invalidate the other.
Since I am one of the very few astrologers who effectively works with both Zodiacs, and have been asked about this issue many times, I feel that I must respond.
First of all, it is my experience that both systems -- Western and Vedic -- work wonderfully well. That the use of both Zodiacs is validated by the accuracy of the results in both approaches.
But the real question is: when to use each Zodiac.
In my experience, the overall predominance of one element (e.g. fire) in a person's chart shows up clearly using the Tropical (Western) Zodiac, but not using the Sidereal (Vedic) Zodiac. An example: a woman comes to me for a chart reading, and has either a predominance of Earth by Tropical reckoning or a predominance of Fire by Sidereal assessment.
She presents herself as very reserved, quiet, and serious, and throughout the reading relates well to the themes of the Earth signs. Does this mean Tropical wins? Yes and no. I ask her if she feels a fire deep within herself that few people see. She immediately becomes animated and agrees wholeheartedly, and feels seen in a way that she usually isn't by others.
In other words, both Zodiacs describe different levels of reality.
(In addition, as I've mentioned in my Bridge of Skies article, one becomes more and more skilled at seeing the blended results of both Zodiacs in a person's temperament.)
For temperament and psycho-dynamics, I find the Tropical Zodiac perfectly accurate and incredibly useful in guiding the person to new understandings of themselves.
On the other hand, the Sidereal Zodiac, and the Vedic approaches to the chart, often also reveal to me major psychological and contextual issues including the absence or overweening presence of a parent, abuse issues, early life traumas and challenges to the self-esteem, and more.
While I can certainly get important information on how a person has lived from their Western chart, I consistently get additional new and incredibly useful information by examining the Vedic chart, too.
For prediction, I use the Western outer planet transits (by Saturn, Uranus, Neptune, and Pluto) to show what major lessons and themes are entering a person's life. I also use the Vimshottari Dasa Vedic method, however, to help me to ascertain which of the chart's major life themes will be ripening or emerging at the present time, and what areas of life will be more challenging and which more productive.
Again, both systems are incredibly useful, and astrologers need to welcome each other and learn from each other, instead of trying to make each other wrong.
P.s. In Western astrology, the 12 signs represent living, breathing archetypes that have congruent themes, attributes, and significations. E.g. Aries is impatient, headstrong, signifies the head and initiative, etc.
In Vedic astrology, the 12 signs are "heaps" (they use the word Rashis), i.e. collections of less-related significations. Here, each of the signs carries the significations of its planetary ruler (i.e. that planet's significations) instead of primarily focusing on the sign's own significations. E.g. Aries carries the energies and meanings of Mars, and is very strongly colored by the placement of Mars in each particular chart.
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