What Can Astrology Do?

What Can Astrology Do For You?

Horoscope Astrology WheelAstrology has been used throughout history in many capacities. Today people consult astrologers for a wide variety of reasons, from personal growth to selecting the best dates to put a house on the market. There is an age-old debate in the astrological community about the merit of various aspects of the practice, with predictive astrology and past life astrology being two of many "hot spots" of criticism in the ongoing conversation. The criticism and finger-pointing that can occur sometimes leaves potential clients and students of astrology a bit confused.

A lot of pressure is put onto (and taken on by) astrologers to "decipher direct messages from the universe" and give clients tangible answers to life's big questions. In the course of the astrology reading process it is easy for clients to forget that their astrologer is also a real human, full of the same capacity for error and complexity that any of us share.

Many astrologers have heard new clients report about negative experiences from previous readings with other astrologers. In such situations the client complains that they took the reading too strongly to heart and that they felt the previous astrologer led them in a "wrong" direction.

Placing blame aside, one could argue here that many clients' projections onto their astrologer are simply too great. And yet the medium itself, and the nature and power of the information transmitted, seems to lead naturally to that very dynamic – in which the words of the astrologer are given too much weight or taken too literally.

And that brings us to an important question. What is it that astrology really CAN do? And what does astrology NOT do well?

I’ve asked several astrologers to respond with their thoughts on this dynamic and to share what they've learned from years of counseling clients.

Mark Jones Astrologer

When we come to contemplate the question as to what Astrology can and cannot do we might immediately start with the problematic question of causation, both on a simple and a complex level. Do the stars or planets literally have causal effect on the nature of our being?

Plotinus, in his “Are the Stars Causes?” section of the Enneads, is clear that belief in simplistic causation involving the stars or planets involves a naïve assumption that their character is capricious like some Greek or Roman god. He asserts that this is an unnecessary pathetic fallacy, an attempt of the existentially lonely mankind to bruise the surface of the night sky with infantile demands that it somehow look and act like a human life:

“It is absurd to think that the particular grouping under which a star passes can modify either its character or its earthward influences. And can we imagine it altered by its own progression as it rises, stands at centre, declines? Exultant when at centre; dejected or enfeebled in declension; some raging as they rise and growing benign as they set, while declension brings out the best in one among them; surely this cannot be?”

Read more: Mark Jones: Is There Meaning in the Cosmos?

Hadley Fitzgerald Astrologer As Theodore Roszak noted nearly 30 years ago: “Ultimately no system is any better than the judgment and honesty of those who use it. Wisdom and decency are qualities of people, not of systems.” Astrology is a language, an exquisitely rich cryptographic system, and in all of its sundry specialties (natal, horary, mundane, etc.), layers upon layers of meaning are available to the interpreter. Still, neither the system nor its interpreter can know the deepest workings or capacities of any human being. So, in my experience, what astrology can “do” for anyone depends greatly upon the perspective, understanding, sensitivity, and capacity of the interpreter to integrate myriad complexities and translate them in an effective, understandable way that’s useful to the client and applicable to his/her life.

There’s no way to look at a birth horoscope and know whether the person is male or female; a Buddha or a bulldog; tall or short; straight or gay; black, white, yellow, red, or a multi-cultural mix of all of the above. Neither can we know that being’s level of consciousness. We do need to be aware that the chart itself has an innate “authority” (else why would the client be there?) which is animated by the client’s projections. So, when we work with an individual's chart in a personal consultation, we step into a multivalent environment. Once there, we open a dialogue with the sacred and profane, the conscious as well as disowned and unacknowledged attributes of that being. We are charged with helping the client discover what the chart says about the soul’s best intentions for this incarnation; the ways to resonate consciously with those intentions; and what challenges might be encountered. We go in search of the unique power as well as the special music contained within him or her, and we do so in service to the highest good of that soul and our own. It is a sacred, humbling trust.

Read more: Hadley Fitzgerald: The Problem with Predictions

Joan Kiley AstrologerFor me, astrology is, if nothing else, clearly archetypal in nature. That fact both expands, and limits, astrology’s possibilities. It expands by allowing a richness of topics available to be covered, and multiple dimensions or layers of meanings to be discovered. It allows for the practice of many types of astrology, like horary, mundane, evolutionary and psychological, because the meaning to be found is personal, political, as well as collective. People can receive extraordinary insights into both life’s big questions and the somewhat lesser, but perhaps even more practical ones, via astrology.

Read more: Joan Kiley: Archetypal Questions

Dena DeCastro Astrologer

Astrology's Shortcomings

In my experience, astrology is not good at answering “yes/no” questions about the future. It is limited in its ability to predict specific outcomes on the physical level. But perhaps less discussed is the fact that astrology and other divinatory practices can be limited by the wording of the questions asked by the client. For example, some common questions I’ve heard over the years are: “When will I meet my soul mate?”and “Will I ever meet my soul mate?”There are many problems with this question.

First of all, a belief in the “one soul mate” theory is presumed. Astrology itself cannot directly speak to the existence or non-existence of soul mates. But more than that, I have not found that it is possible to predict exactly when or if such a meeting will happen. However, I would not shame anyone for having this question, as the need for love and connection, and the desire for a “soul mate,” is a very human one, and is entirely understandable! Instead, I would offer a client with this question specific information about transits and cycles of opportunity so that he or she is able to maximize efforts in searching for a partner.

Read more: Dena DeCastro: Asking the Right Questions

Steven Forrest AstrologerI believe that astrology can, with impressive precision, predict the great questions that you will face in your life. It can accurately predict the timing of their emergence. It can, in wise hands, suggest good answers to those questions. It can warn you of limiting or destructive answers, and of tempting but ill-fated ones. But it can never, ever, accurately predict the answers you will give to those questions. That is in the domain of your freedom, your creativity, and your imagination. Your consciousness interacts unpredictably with the vast range of possibilities inherent in every archetypal field. A good astrologer is not so much a prophet as a coach. An astrological reading should leave you empowered, informed and encouraged, not just "described."

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