For this second installment on astrology basics we will explore the question of whether any given astrologer is, in fact, an astrologer or something else. This topic has just as many opinions within the professional ranks as it does among the public and even with perhaps those who are just dipping their toes into the astrological world. In short, there is no universal agreement among astrologers on the basic qualifications one would need to call themselves an astrologer. With this article, we will attempt to make some headway on this controversial topic and with any luck, come out on the other end of this with all of our astrology friends firmly intact!
I’ve personally heard definitions along the very strict lines of, “if the person has not filed a tax return with the IRS stating their occupation as astrologer, then they are not an astrologer,” to a very broad definition of, “if the person has ever helped someone in any way with astrology, even if at a very beginning skill level, then that person is an astrologer.” Now, these two definitions were given by a few very well known astrologers and I completely respect their work, however, if you have been in the astrology world for any length of time, this should come as no surprise. Astrologers, in general, tend to be very diverse with their ideas of what one must learn, at a minimum, to wear the title of “Astrologer.”
The issue here is further complicated by the many number of online astrology gurus, YouTube astrologers, professional astrologers (with or without credentials, certificates, etc.) and the many amateurs and professional amateurs out there; many of which never had formal astrology training or teaching of any kind and simply learned on their own with books and over the web, doing their own research. Then there are those astrologers who have yet to publish a single article, never teach and are simply good at what they do, which is giving great readings and advice based on the stars. So there’s room out there for many different kinds of astrologers doing all kinds of things, from teaching, writing, researching, readings, sessions, counseling, medical, horary, weddings, electional, forecasting, working with financial markets and many other niche specialties to include combinations of the above.
In fact, there is so much work out there with astrology as a whole, that the field is entirely wide open for almost anyone to put in serious work and produce something worthwhile, being their own astrologer in their own way and contributing to the celestial art. (As an aside, the term “amateur” here is used as a good description, a lover of astrology on their own free and unpaid time, having a relatively fresh outlook and open mind on the topic…this as opposed to the amateur dilettante, who knows a lot about all different kinds of things astrological and yet is not an astrologer and should not be doing readings! Why? They’re not serious enough about doing the topic justice, thus the term, dilettante.)
I think that where people really get bent out of shape is when they receive bad, wrong astrological advice from an unqualified astrologer, beginning astrologer, astrology dilettante or someone who claims to be an astrologer but is not (sometimes psychics fall into this camp). This advice typically revolves around personal matters, or on the issue of what the one having the reading, i.e., the client, is “like.” Personality traits, characteristics, behaviors and issues of romance and compatibility are some of the major sticking points. I see these as major stumbling blocks for many new astrologers out there who are eager to have their message heard and make themselves known and of course, they do want to help others usually. (Yes, I was one of these too at one time…I’m just a little older now and more patient with myself and my clients and friends.)
Some of this can be easily cleared up with a solid game plan with a good astrology teacher or perhaps a diligent self study course with a combination of doing lots of charts of all kinds of people. It truly depends on the astrologer and what kind of time they have to devote. At this point, I would offer that a computer is mandatory and that professional astrology software should be somewhere in the not too distant future as well. So if you’re reading this and you feel overwhelmed and yet are still ready to tackle the path towards astrology mastery, then please read on.
By this point, one may be asking, “Well, what can I do?” or “Where should I go from here?” I think that the answer is simple and the process is long and hard, harder for those who don’t know exactly where they want to go within astrology. Before I give my opinion, here’s a perfect example of someone who knows exactly what he wants to do in astrology: Chris Brennan. He is a traditional astrologer who studies and teaches the ancient Hellenistic methods, expanding on newly discovered and translated ancient Greek astrological writings. Chris, as an astrologer, graduated from Kepler college back when they had a four year program. He is someone who just seemingly was born for astrology; and there was a ton of hard work that went into it as well. But Chris is not the norm, as many of us come to astrology after 40 it seems. However he is setting a bar and showing that astrology can be “done” not only as a business but as a life passion and academic pursuit.
David Cochrane is another well known idealistic example, having started with astrology in his early 20’s. Through thousands of client interviews David has almost completely reinvented astrology from the ground up, developing his own software tools to do the research as well as developing tools for astrologers of all kinds. David is a rare one as well, just like Chris, however they have taken very different paths in astrology. As a side note, I would also like to offer that the financial road for many professional astrologers seems to hard, at least at the beginning. Having a supportive family structure and/or a financially supportive spouse may be the missing element here for many who are dedicated to the path. Staying encouraged and surrounding yourself with like minded others is critical.
Getting back to the previous question of the “how to” part of becoming an astrologer; the answer is first finding and allowing what you are most interested in with astrology to flourish and take root. When this happens, you will be “bitten by the bug” as many astrologers have commented on and noticed throughout the years. Following that, seek out those who are the experts in their specific field or astrology niche; those who are the very best at what they do within astrology. If you don’t want to specialize immediately, then you could go through the prep work and the various syllabi for the big certification exams: AFA, NCGR, ISAR, etc. Or, if you are interested in Vedic astrology (search ACVA), then you could follow the same logic with that as well. Simply obtain the materials that you need in order to get started and then let your interests naturally guide you. There are many online astrology learning opportunities as well.
Finding a teacher is great and probably necessary for many of us, however, at least in the beginning, allow yourself to get more fully acquainted with what astrology is all about, the language basics, if you will. You may or may not need a structured course of study to start learning the fundamentals. Test it out for yourself and see if it works, performing in something like an experimental phase. As a beginning astrologer, you won’t get it right all of the time. You will fail and you will have to be OK with failing as you practice. This is natural and nothing to feel bad about. So, the typical advice of, “Follow you passion,” does apply here. It’s just that there are a few more critical details that should be examined and given some serious thinking to, but in the end the “heart” wins out and your brain sometimes just has to take a back seat and listen. If your heart is in it, then you should take action and get started on your own astrology journey.
Here’s a hypothetical example: Susan wants to just be a financial astrologer only and doesn’t want to have anything to do with personal readings, peoples problems, etc. The good news is that yes, Susan can do that and simply get the financial astrology training that she needs. However, if Susan doesn’t know the ABC-123’s of astrology: planets, signs, houses and aspects, then she will not be able to proceed with any kind of astrology learning. You can think of the main core of astrology as the roots of a tree and the trunk of the tree as the language of astrology being applied. The major limbs would be the different areas of astrological interest: financial, medical, personal, etc. The branches would then be the specific applications within the major context of the of the particular area of astrology, i.e., medical, financial, personal, mundane/political, weather, or whatever. Any astrologer should be able to read the given natal chart of a person; they will have something to say about it, good, bad or indifferent. So, astrology chart basics and chart fundamentals are a requirement for any astrologer, regardless of what specific area they want to specialize in.
Many qualified astrologers are general in their approach and they practice several areas of astrology but nearly all of them can do basic chart readings very well, getting into the predictive side of things with their clients (or should I say forecasting as many would now prefer?). These astrologers might also do horary or electional astrology or perhaps even a bit of rectification (finding the right time of someone’s birth using specific techniques like solar arc directions). Heck, they might even be great mundane/political astrologers as well. In fact, I see this everywhere: astrologers showcasing their skills with mundane and political affairs which ultimately only lead to more personal readings as many clients frankly don’t know the difference. The political astrological analysis serves as an advertisement to those who want to have a reading or session with the astrologer. That’s great, however, they are really different topics and require a different skill set.
If an astrologer is counseling and seeing clients, then they should have some kind of background interest and understanding of psychology, counseling psychology, social work, etc. Working with clients is the hard part–NOT the astrology! Astrologers as a whole need the psychology basics and yet, we as astrologers tend to beat ourselves up over techniques and methodology or something else like information overload, trying to pile everything we know how to do in one reading/session, or not coming through on time with the work. Like many other technical jobs, there are computers involved and a bit of math here and there and all of it can be overwhelming, entering in wrong dates and times, not being completely familiar with all aspects of the software, among others problems. Basically, there’s lots of fumbling that can happen when two nervous people get together and attempt to have a productive astrology session. I’m not exactly saying that you should go back to college and earn a degree in psychology, although that wouldn’t be such a bad idea either.
I think that the astrologer, whether a beginner, intermediate, amateur, professional amateur or professional, should own at least a handful of good astrology books as a reference, use a computer with astrology software to do their chart work and be able to explore new ideas as they come about, as well as have an open line of communication for others to contact them, preferably online and through the astrologers own website. In addition, many astrologers do write or cover their favorite astrological topics in some way, whether that is through the major astrology organizations, local clubs, blogs, newspapers, magazines, etc. Eventually, many of us will speak for various groups and give interviews and presentations over the radio, TV and the web.
Summing it all up with the original question of what makes an astrologer, I’m feeling that the astrology truly must be one of the primary interests of the person and can be seen as a passionate drive which is the fundamental arc of how they see and approach life. Almost always, helping others seems to be at the center of the astrologers focus. The integrity must be there and the knowledge, learning and wisdom of astrology will follow accordingly–most of the time. I think that with the vast majority of astrologers there is some kind of natural flow of events over a period of time where the person aspiring to be an astrologer gets through the basics and fully integrates those and then they find themselves helping others using astrology as a tool–all of this seems very natural. There are many times that the astrologer will have some obvious intuitive knowings and nearly always some kind of ability to see clearly and succinctly into the lives of others, helping them to actualize and fulfill their potential.
I hope that I provided some clarity on the astrologer issue and yet I know that there is much more to it than that. There are no simple answers on this, just guidelines and things to think about. One former teacher of mine used to say, “The creme rises.” I’ve always interpreted this as the best people for the job will make themselves known through their actions and their integrity. I think that the same is generally true for astrology and for astrologers as a whole. So, what about you? Would you consider yourself to be a beginning or student astrologer, an amateur astrologer, professional astrologer, a psychic astrologer or something else? Are you struggling with your astrology practice or still on the fence about whether or not to pursue a more formal educational path in astrology? Please feel welcome to leave your comments and questions below.