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Elizabethan astrologerSo – it’s been a while since I have posted, the reasons are many and varied but included in them is finding a suitable subject to write about. I can’t keep going on about the same aspects all the time until it changes because the effect is ongoing and nothing much is changing. However, my thoughts have been triggered by a recent conversation I have had with another astrologer, someone younger and newer to the subject. This prompted a little research on the methods and practices of modern astrologers and it has shown me how much things have moved on since I started.

It has been less than 40 years and I wonder how many of today’s astrologers still calculate their charts using diurnal logarithms or scientific calculators as I was taught. I can still remember the feeling when someone showed me the technique of using a calculator to calculate the positions of the planets, I was amazed. I still have the blank chart wheels that I had printed up to hand draw the charts on. It used to take me 15 hours to calculate and write the report out to send on. I was there when one of the first astrological softwear programs was developed and written by the president of our local astrological society. I had a copy on cassette tape which took an age to load up on my Sinclair Spectrum, the very computer that it was written on because I bought it second hand from him. The details were printed out on a thermal printer that looked like a till receipt and I still had to transfer it to a blank chart wheel and write up the report on a typewriter.

These days, if you spend enough on the softwear which includes an interpretation report, you can have all that process done and dusted in 10 minutes.

During the early days of my astrological career I was a great one for the new developments. Chiron had recently been discovered and there was a lot of speculation and observations about how he fitted into the chart. There were writings and articles about new Zodiac signs which just sort of made it onto the celestial equator and how they could be included. Midpoints and harmonics were developed along with different sorts of composite charts to look at the relationship between two or more people. These were only really possible with the advent of the home computer because to calculate them by hand would have taken an age. However, I knew people who did just that simply for the fun of exploration and discovery. My whole being sucked up this information like a sponge, I was completely fascinated by it all.

220px-40_foot_telescope_120_cm_48_inch_reflecting_telescope_William_HerschelThen there was the study of Fixed stars and the Arabian or Arabic parts (Don’t ask me to explain, I never did get the handle of them but it was something to do with adding together the positions of two planets and taking away one of the angle depending on whether you were born during day light or night time – I am sure there is a Google for them) these all went on to complicate things further, to the point where someone did a ‘Super Chart’ which consisted of every point that could be calculated using all the methods and it ended up as a circle with a black band in the middle. And so it goes … people are still adding things, asteroids and comets and moons of the other planets. No wonder the sceptics in this world come down particularly hard on astrology because if we can’t find truth in one technique we only need to look at something else to be able to find it in another.

Then there are all the different uses for this information. Obviously there is the usual natal astrology which determines a person’s personality and talents from the chart which we can develop into looking at the trends and future developments (forecasting). You can look at choosing the timing of events (electional), the relationship between two or more people (synastry) the astrology of towns and countries (mundane) or companies (business). Then there is locational astrology which looks for the best place in the world for a person’s success in life or love. Then medical astrology, horary astrology which looks at the answer to a question by setting up a chart for the time that the question was asked. Psychological astrology, esoteric or spiritual astrology and so the list goes on. Some of these are new and others are centuries old.

The internet is a wonderful thing with the donkey work being taken out of astrology so we can get down to working on the really interesting stuff. Discover our own paths and techniques, explore things take in all the information, suck up all those facts, work out which works for us and which doesn’t. The personalities of astrologers are as varied as anyone else so there are techniques and applications which will work for one but not so well for another, this is where the strength of astrology lies for the practitioners, if you love it enough you will find your own inspiration.

However, this can be a double edged sword and I wonder if those new to astrology actually know how to calculate a chart when all you have to do is to go on to the internet and put your details in to immediately have a chart in front of you. I know calculation isn’t something I would have done if I didn’t have to learn it but doing so gave me a whole insight into the relationship between the movements of the planets and the arc and time zones of the earth. It taught me about the shift of the earth and the wobble of the axis which causes the precession of the equinoxes. It showed me why the Tropics of Cancer and Capricorn are so called. How many new astrologers know that in order to calculate a chart for the southern hemisphere, because all the tables are for the northern hemisphere that you have to take 12 hours off and turn the chart upside down. These are things you never have to know if all you need to do is click and collect.

When I was first learning we weren’t allowed to use our intuition, everything we attributed to astrology had to be justified by what is in the chart and if we did use our intuition we had to make a statement to that effect. We called the process analysis and synthesis, we would break the chart down to its component parts and then we would put them back together by interpreting what it would mean as a whole. I used to make a list of key words and see where the emphasis would lay and then have headings which I would use to complete the report. There was a process, it took time but it instilled not only the facts but the ethics of doing a consultation.

Steampunk Orrory

Astrology is a wonderful journey and there is something for everyone, but over the years I have discovered that I cannot be an expert on everything to do with it. Certain techniques and methods along with associated interests suit me best and I have to concentrate on them, and I have also discovered that in one way or another I attract the clients who these methods suit too.

However, whatever method or technique anyone chooses, I do think it’s important to learn the basics properly. I liken it to baking, how can you bake a cake by just taking the recipe off the internet if you don’t know the basics. I was watching the Great British Bake Off a couple of years back and the failure of one of the contestants to make a baked egg custard because she didn’t know that it was the protein in the white of the egg that set the custard. She was used to making real custard with egg yolks and thought it was the same thing. Basic information about the ingredients were missing.

If I have one piece of advice for new astrologers it is learn your basics. Not only the basics of astrology but the solar system too and the astronomy of it. Learn about the earth and the passage of time and how it all relates and interacts on a physical level. Learn the history and why certain attributes were given to certain planets or signs.  Then you will truly understand the subject, love it and want to respect it. Just because it’s Old School doesn’t make it obsolete. You can only fly if you know your foundations are strong.