Astrology is Always Personal


For the record, astrology cannot provide answers that are beyond one's own frame of reference. Impossible.

How would we even recognize the wisdom in its forecasts and insights, if astrology tried speaking to us about things we don't personally understand, lacking (as we all are) in certain first- or second-hand experiences? Obviously, we'd miss it.

I want to make this explicitly clear, especially as one who writes about astrology on a website with a global readership, so nobody's confused. I possess no universal answers. If you're looking for those, you're in the wrong place. (And if another astrologer claims to offer said 'answers', be very suspicious.)

I merely offer interpretive suggestions, blending what I know about the planets and signs—the finer points of which I'm sure some astrologers might argue with me, based on their astrological training—with everything else I've learned about life, through my upbringing and education and immersion in American culture and interpersonal exchanges and self-development. If what I know (about astrology and life) syncs up with your perspectives, interests or experiences, then you will likely draw something useful from my writings. If not, you might find me obtuse or long-winded, boring or outright loopy… and probably not a particularly engaging read. Click, or no click.

I've been meaning to raise this topic for a while, ever since I received a follow-up email to this article I wrote about Pluto's entry into Capricorn, in which I discussed its historical antecedents and its potential consequences for the upcoming US presidential election. The emailer wrote to me about a 'gap' in my thinking: '[W]hen you talk of history, practices and conventions etc, you are only speaking of white/European stuff. Time to move on and really recognize the indigenous people and their horoscopes and systems.'

My first response (a natural one, I suppose) was to want to defend myself, since it's not as if I wasn't aware of this bias in what I wrote. After all, I'm not an historical scholar… and in painting such broad strokes in my historical ponderings, I didn't feel like composing a disclaimer explaining such (since I'm already wordy enough, eh?).

But beyond that, though, I wondered: What should I have added to my historical sketch? Admittedly, I am not well-versed in the histories of indigenous people (which ones? in what geographic region?). Nor do I know about indigenous forms of astrology. Need I be scouring the depths of Wikipedia, looking for superficial mentions of these alternative histories, so I may allude to them—without actually possessing any substantial grasp of them? Isn't that somewhat disingenuous?

While there's no doubt we should collectively acknowledge the many strains of history that are often left out of textbooks and thumbnail sketches, who's to do the actual educating? Probably somebody with genuine knowledge.

I've certainly encountered critics of methods that use astrology to speak broadly about social trends… for instance, interpreting the widespread breakdown of marriage and traditional relationships (at least in America) during the transits of Uranus (1968-1975) and Pluto (1971-1984) through Libra. The critique? The question of whether there was a similar situation going on in India or Venezuela or Namibia. The answer? Ask an Indian, a Venezuela, or a Namibian because I don't know. Let the experts speak for themselves.

Similar thoughts emerge when I'm asked my thoughts on whether astrology might work differently in the Southern Hemisphere, based on the reversal of seasons that occurs on each side of the Equator. (I tackled this one back in '03.) Yes, astrology is a Northern-Hemisphere-biased system, due to where it was originally developed. Should it then be changed for Southern Hemisphere cultures? (Judging from the many Aussies, Kiwis and South Africans who visit my site, perhaps not.) Why don't we direct that question to those folks who were born and raised down South, and who've led lives by this other set of natural rhythms? It's in their bones, not mine. (Ask me about Californian suburbs and urban burrito joints.)

When I defer to others on such perspectives, it is with humility. I ask: Please tell me something about this experience of yours that I don't know. To me, this is preferable to attempts to come off as 'inclusive' by spreading superficial references and name-drops. You lead me, then I'll lead you. It's a collaboration.

My work with clients drives this humble view, since I can only go so far in interpreting a chart before the client must step in and guide the direction of my comments. Otherwise, a chart reading is merely a guessing game (albeit an expensive one). That's because, even in the microcosm of an individual and her natal chart, astrology cannot provide answers outside a certain frame of reference.

A natal Saturn conjunct the Midheaven, for example, is a tell-tale sign of a strict, emotionally austere or overly critical parent figure (often the father)—but for somebody reared in an orphanage, that interpretation wouldn't hold water, at least not with surface-level precision. Should I have foreseen such a possibility in advance? Or can't I just follow the client's lead, so I may interpret astrology's symbols from the framework that'll make the most sense to her?

Anybody can learn the basic archetypes in astrology, but what we do with them interpretively is an entirely different matter. Some practitioners are better at speaking in broader terms and making fewer assumptions, so as to appeal to wider audience. Others can't help but push a more limiting worldview, which says more about their beliefs than the astrology itself. But there is absolutely no way to check all our biases at the door, in some futile attempt to 'touch the Truth'. We always contaminate it in the translation.

In case there was any confusion, let me make this clear: What I write on this site is powerfully influenced by me, my cultural background, my tastes, my tone and my unique brand of astrology. By no means is anything I write exhaustive. Simply, I try to write about what I know… and leave the rest for somebody else to do. Along the way, I'm happy to keep on learning.