©2009 by Donna Cunningham, MSW
Note: The following is an excerpt from my ebook, Counseling Principles for Astrologers, available at Moon Maven Publications. It applies to sessions with astrology clients–and it’s also vital if you’re creating a website or blog in the hope of attracting new clients.
I once asked a new client if she’d ever had a chart done before. She said, “Well, I went to this guy, and he wasn’t talking to ME at all! I couldn’t understand a word he said. I could tell that he enjoyed it, and that he thought it was a good reading. But he wasn’t talking to me at all.”
No doubt the astrologer believed he was communicating especially fluently that day. However, long strings of astrological jargon like quincunx, trine, solar arc, retrograde and t-square are not communication, they are obfuscation. Astrobabble creates unnecessary mystification and anxiety. Inundated with meaningless terms, all clients have to go on is tone of voice and facial expression, which they may well interpret as ominous. If we frown in concentration, they may conclude things look bad for them.
Our first responsibility during a reading is to make sure clients understand us. Only through meaningful dialogue can we help them gain a new perspective on their lives. We easily forget how confusing astrological terms were to us in the beginning. It’s hard for us to imagine how bewildering it is for clients when we speak astrobabble.
You may not think clients have any difficulty with your terminology. Don’t assume they understand just because they don’t ask what you mean. Many are too intimidated to ask questions. They may have low self-esteem, especially about their intellect or education. They may be convinced they are stupid, especially when faced with waves of unfamiliar terminology coming out of the mouth of someone who sounds like an expert. If they are particularly insecure, they may even nod sagely as you speak so that you don’t discover how ignorant they are.
These are the same folks who are afraid to ask the doctor to explain all those medical terms. When I worked in a hospital, one patient was admitted with a diagnosis of borborygmus. What would you think if the doctor told you that you had borborygmus? “How long do I have, Doc?” Right? When we looked the word up in the medical dictionary, it turned out that all that it means is that yourstomach growls. How they got that one by the admissions committee is puzzling, but they did. The incomprehensible things astrologers tell clients about their charts can be as alarming to them as a diagnosis of borborygmus.
In order to make sure clients understand, reassure them that you’re accessible. Encourage them to ask about anything that’s not clear. Be especially gentle with astrological virgins–people who’ve never had a chart interpretation before. My standard line to clients is, “Please stop me if I get too technical. I do also speak English.” Check back in with them during the discussion, if you suspect that you are using too much jargon because their eyes are glazing over.
While some clients hate it if you use any jargon at all, others feel cheated if you don’t fling some mystifying terms around. That way they’re sure they went to a knowledgeable expert and got their money’s worth. It is entirely possible to do a whole session without any reversion to astrologese. However, it might be well to sprinkle a few astrological terms into the conversation. If you don’t make any reference to the chart, they may think you’re getting all this intimate information about them from your crystal ball or your spirit guides. You may also wish to point out on the chart where the information is coming from.
Strangely enough, with astrologically sophisticated clients, you may have to work even harder to communicate. The temptation to relax into strings of jargon is very strong. They can trine, quincunx, and solar arc right along with you, so there is the comforting illusion of two minds running along the same track. If you questioned them, however, they might have very different emotional and intellectual associations to various planets, signs, and aspects than you do. Based on our teachers, the books we read, the conferences we attend, and our personal experiences, each astrophile has different perceptions of and beliefs about various chart factors.
TO ASTROLOGY NOVICES: Have you ever felt lost during an astrology session? Tell the Pros how you felt about it–leave a comment. If you are new to astrology, you can download a free glossary of astrological terms and other choice freebies at http://www.donnasfreeastrology.info/glossary.doc.
Note: The chapter continues by showing how to translate from Astrologese to English. See the table of contents for Counseling Principles for Astrologers and download this excerpt at http://www.moonmavenpublications.com/cpasample.doc. To order the book, go to http://www.moonmavenpublications.com/astrologybooks. To see more excerpts from Donna’s books, open the category Bits from Donna’s Books at the side of this blog.