Posted by: Donna Cunningham | November 9, 2010

Q&A: What Professional Astrologers Want to Know

 ©11-8-2010 by Donna Cunningham, MSW

 We’ve finished our series of Question and Answer sessions about the 12 houses, so I’ve been casting about in my mind for what we could do next.  One idea I have is to invite guest experts to host Q&A sessions on facets of astrology that aren’t my forte. Chiron and other asteroids, retrograde planets and progressions come to mind. What do you think of that, and who would you suggest?

Today, however, I’ll invite professional astrologers—or advanced students who want to turn pro—to grill me on professional issues like starting a practice, dealing with difficult clients, and ethical questions.

What NOT to ask: Please don’t ask me to interpret questions from a client’s chart—if I’d have to put up a chart to answer, I won’t.  It’s understood that for confidentiality’s sake, no identifying information should be posted (no name, birth data, or location). And don’t describe a client’s situation either–it’s just too risky on the internet.

 Instead, I’d be glad to address more general practice issues like these:

  • Should I let the client’s friend/sister/mom sit in on the consultation?
  • What if the client wants to pay in installments?
  • Is it okay to read the client’s lover’s chart if they don’t know?

 If there’s already an article on Skywriter about the topic, I’ll link to it. If it’s covered in my text for professionals, Counseling Principles for Astrologers, I’ll answer briefly and then reference that.  This ebook is available at Moon Maven Publications  for $15.  Here’s the Table of Contents:    

  • PREFACE:  SEVEN HABITS OF HIGHLY EFFECTIVE ASTROLOGERS
  • INTRODUCTION: WHY CAN’T JENNY READ?
  • CHAPTER ONE: CONDUCTING EFFECTIVE CONSULTATIONS BY ­BEGINNING–AND ENDING–WELL.
  • CHAPTER TWO: ENGLISH FOR ASTROLOGERS–NO ASTROLOGESE PLEASE.
  • CHAPTER THREE: SOLVING PROBLEMS: KEY QUESTIONS TO ASK YOURSELF AND THE CLIENT.
  • CHAPTER FOUR: VOCATIONAL ASTROLOGY–UPDATING THE TRADITION.
  • CHAPTER FIVE: COUNSELING CLIENTS IN CRISIS.
  • CHAPTER SIX: FINDING RESOURCES FOR YOUR CLIENTS.
  • CHAPTER SEVEN: CODEPENDENCY, THE ADULT­CHILD SYNDROME, AND THEIR IMPLICATIONS FOR ASTROLOGERS.
  • CHAPTER EIGHT: DOING CHARTS FOR CHILDREN AND TEENS. 
  • CHAPTER NINE: ADDITIONAL CONSIDERATIONS FOR ASTROLOGERS.

If it’s an ethical question, I may also refer you to codes of ethics that various astrology groups have established: 

So, dear colleagues, what would you like to know? To submit a question, scroll down past this article to the comment section and leave it there.  Sign up to receive responses and new questions by email. 

Links to the Q&A sessions about the 12 houses start hereReaders Ask: Basic Questions about the 12 Houses

 Some previous Skywriter Articles for Professionals:

Posts in the Astrology and Personal Finances series:

Order Counseling Principles for Astrologers here:  Moon Maven Publications.

free astrology booklet by Donna CunninghamINDEX OF SKYWRITER’S 418 POSTS by category.  Excellent resource. Save it to your hard drive rather than print it, and then all the links are live. Download it here: Articles Index Skywriter 11-2010.

If you’re enjoying this blog, sign up for a subscription, and get a FREE EBOOKLET for Skywriter Subscribers Only: Mothers, Daughters, and the Moon, a 50-page excerpt from The Moon in your Life. Read more about it here: New: Free Booklet For Skywriter Subscribers! 

 If you’re already a subscriber and want a copy, forward the most recent email post to me at moonmave@spiritone.com . To sign up for a subscription, go to the top right hand corner of the blog and click on “Subscribe.”  Then send me an email with your subscription confirmation or an email post with a request for the booklet in the subject line.

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Responses

  1. I’m an advanced student and have just done my first professional reading, with great results.

    Are there any legal issues I have to worry about, as I know many people consider astrology to be “fortune telling” and thus illegal?

    • HI, Jack, congratulations on graduating into the rank of professionals. It’s exciting, isn’t it?

      A wise issue to raise. There ARE still fortune-telling laws on the books in many municipalities, though they are rarely enforced, except in the case of swindlers and frauds. It HAS happened in a number of places, however, enough times that one of the astrology organizations, AFAN, has established a legal committee and has actively advocated for astrologers who ran into trouble because of those laws.

      Another place AFAN’s legal committee has taken action is in places where there is a prohibitive yearly license fee. Check out their site if you want to know more or if the issue comes up.

      Another legal concern would be in the area of medical astrology, and here I personally know an astrologer/homeopath who was threatened by the AMA because of the AMA prohibition on diagnosing and prescribing for a medical or psychiatric condition without a medical license. Donna

  2. Hello Donna!
    Thank you for this timely post! I am about to leap into the world of professional astrology and begin my own practice, and have been searching for advice, tips, strategies and “how to’s.” (I’ve done consultations before, but never truly declared myself a professional. And your posts for the professional astrologer have been very helpful!)

    I suppose my biggest question is: exactly HOW do you begin a professional astrology practice? What is the first and most important practical thing that the professional astrologer needs to do to begin?

    • Congratulations, Regina! I think a really important move is to work on getting comfortable with promoting yourself and with charging money for the session. This is something I think we all struggle with in the beginning, especially, but it usually rears its head again any time we contemplate raising our fees.

      I think one reason is because so many of us are Adult Children of Alcoholics and can be codependent with our clients (there’s a free download chapter about that on the reading list here: ). Another has to do with past lives where we took vows of poverty. (See the article Here: http://skywriter.wordpress.com/2010/05/08/more-help-for-money-blocks%e2%80%94clearing-past-life-barriers/ )

      In fact, it could be good to read most of the articles in the Astrology and Personal Finances series linked in this post, because concerns about the economy may well be the #1 question clients will raise now. This is NOT a time to be avoiding questions about money by calling the 2nd house the house of “values”–clients need us to face their financial worries head on.

      As for overcoming the discomfort with promoting ourselves, you’ll find many articles by helpful coaches on the internet who work with New Age professionals and healers. Look for them under the search term “spiritual marketing.” Best of luck on your practice! Donna

      • Donna, are you saying that most astrologers are Adult Children of Alcoholics? If so, how do you know that? I’m amazed, because I am an ACA!

      • I’m not surprised. The reason I know that lots of astrologers are ACOAs is because in the years I was working on that information (and attending ACOA meetings myself for several years), lots of my peers told me privately that they were children of alcholics. And when I was lecturing and writing about the issue, lots more came forward.

        Do read the download of the chapter on codependency–that background has huge implications for astrological practice. Donna

  3. I struggle with this one!

    “Is it okay to read the client’s lover’s chart if they don’t know?”
    What do you think Donna?

    • I’ve never seen anything against it in the codes of ethics of the various astrology group, and I know many if not most astrologers do it routinely and don’t seem to think anything of it.

      Yet I have always been deeply uncomfortable with it–perhaps it comes from my social work training in confidentiality.

      Think how you would feel if your potential mate took your birth information or chart to an astrologer for advice on whether to date or marry you, without your knowledge and consent.

      I’d go even a bit further with it. Suppose the other party DID give permission (yeah, yeah, whatever you want, Honey) just to please you, but didn’t really know what astrology was capable of showing about them…their deepest, darkest secrets, their failings, etc. I don’t honestly believe someone who has never had a really good astrology reading can give INFORMED CONSENT about having their chart read in their absence.

      What do other readers/astrologers think about this sticky issue? Donna

      • Ditto. I won’t do it. If you want me to read for you, fine, but I will not read for a spouse, love interest, or even a child without them being present and aware of what’s happening. Otherwise, it’s spying IMO. I think astrology is best approached from the angle of helping the client recognize and deal with their “stuff”. If they are comitted to working on themselves, the concerns they face with others become secondary anyway. Plus, transits will tell you a lot about why that relationship is highlighted in your life now and what the concerns are, as well as warning what the lessons/pitfalls may be.

        I mean, how many of us have had a friend go “OMG – so I just started seeing this guy and I was hoping you could tell me what you think….” *groan*

      • Spying–that’s precisely what I was feeling but couldn’t verbalize. It’s always made me feel kind of squirmy. Donna

      • I agree. Spying is exactly the right word for it. I think that when clients (or friends we read for) ask us to do this, they’re not fully aware of how much intimate information is contained in a chart.

        I’m happy for a client to share details about their relationships and the people they’re in relationship with, and to offer insights and suggestions based on what I read in the client’s chart, and I suspect that is actually more helpful to the client than it would be to read the other person’s chart for the client. After all, the really important stuff for the client is all going to be in the client’s chart.

      • Yes, good point, Margaret, because our own natal chart shows our relationship patterns–all too often, no matter how different they look on the outside, once you get into a relationship, it’s like it’s the same guy over and over and over. Donna

      • I’ve been brainstorming on this for about a day, but since I’m not an astrologer, I’ll speak as a potential ‘victim’. Generally, I’m the ‘yeah, go ahead’ type- I wouldn’t mind if you read my chart to my boyfriend, I wouldn’t even mind if you called me names. But I would mind if you’d share factual facts of my life or ‘dark secrets’ with him (can you extract stuff like that from my chart? Coz I really don’t know, my astro knowledge fails me).

        But here’s what I’m thinking: I understand now that I’m more familiar with astrology how erratic some things that made perfect sense to me must have sounded to others; like I could start with a ‘we’re not very close’ fight in the morning, and go on with a ‘we’re so close you’re chocking me’ fight before noon. So, maybe reading my chart to my bf could have helped me explain myself when I couldn’t do it for myself. Maybe you could say to him sth like ‘screaming at you that she doesn’t give a damn about your feelings doesn’t mean she’s cruel or heartless, she’s just a virgo, it’s important to her to maintain her cool and keep things rational on the surface’.

        And, ultimately it all goes down to the bad professional/responsible professional issue. Say you refuse to read my chart, but you encourage my bf-your client to quit his job and pursue a career in Hollywood- you’re not exactly doing my relationship any favours in this case either!
        Same thing for the client too: One will use the reading as a helping tool to improve himself, his life and his relationships, while another will use it as the perfect excuse for his shortcomings or the ultimate retaliation weapon. And if my bf belonged to the later group, I wouldn’t blame it on you, and I certainly wouldn’t dignify his stance with a serious answer. I’d probably say sth mean like ‘did that astrologer of yours mention that you’re a total idiot?’ and get it over with.

      • To ALETHEA: Hi Alethea! Good to see you here-it’s been a while! You’re saying that you”will not read for a spouse etc without them being present and aware”. That’s the astrological equivalent to marriage counseling. Are you sure that’s a safer path?

        Say my bf drags me to your practice after a long week of arguing about it and I crack one insulting joke after another, or, even worse, say my leo moon sister pays you a visit with her bf against her will, and she throws an emotional tantrum at you, crying her eyes out about how insulted and ridiculed she feels, -what do you do then? Or, to spice it up, say a wife-beater in a moment of remorse agrees to meet you with his wife, but during the reading he gets mad and physically attacks you. Do you have the expertise to handle situations like these?

      • Good thoughts, VR. One of the many situations where astrologers really need some counseling/coaching background. I think doing a joint reading really is a delicate balancing act. Astrologers need to practice how to say things seen in the chart tactfully, and we need to be careful about saying things as absolutes. You should listen to every word that comes out of your mouth before you do say it, to hear how it might affect the client.

        We need to be aware of our own astrological biases (the signs or aspects we love to hate) and not visit them on the client in the form of negative pronouncements. Or to label the potential mate with those biases. Also be aware that your own relationship history and issues may color your outlook on the client’s relationship.

        So with joint sessions, you’d better be doubly aware of your own relationship issues and be extremely tactful in anything you say. And maybe not do them in the early years–have an experienced astrologer with a good relationship history to refer them to. After you’ve done a reading with the client about how their chart looks in terms of relationship patterns and what they are looking for in a partner. Donna

        PS Under no circumstances should even an experienced and capable astrologer knowingly do a joint session with a wifebeater.
        #1 it’s foolhardy and grandiose to think we could make a dent in that pathological a relationship. We have to know what our limitations–and the limitations of our profession are and respect them.#2 Even if in a period of remourse and genuinely trying to do better the wifebeater came for a session, when he relapses into a phase where he’s demanding secrecy, he could retaliate for her sharing this information with an outsider by beating her up.

  4. to OWL: I have read many, many charts to clients. It is only my personal opinion and code of honor that would NOT allow me to read something as personal as a person’s astrological chart to another; without their presence or acknowledgement of absolute consent.

  5. I find it very difficult to read charts for children, especially when the chart shows a not-so-nice influence from the parent asking.
    A boy with a Leo Moon conj Saturn has an overbearing mother that’s squashing the light out of him. Another boy with Pluto square Moon and Venus, and Moon and Venus opposed. How do I talk about these issues with the mother? Is it a done deal or is there something that I can do (more than just hope the mother will go into therapy etc etc).

    Also, should I tell the mother that the father/her husband will be ‘absent’ for the child? (Saturn rx in the child’s chart). Recently, I did tell her after she said she’s considering divorce. But I wasn’t sure. She said she’s “always known”, but have I given her ammunition against the man or can it help?

    • Oh, boy, Chris, that’s a tough one, and it doesn’t get any better when the child is an adult. I recently answered a question from a super Pluto Mom (Jersey housewife) about her adult daughter in my Dell advice column. I didn’t handle it to her satisfaction (having told the truth), and she was so outraged by my answer that she hunted me down and harangued me by phone for about an hour. Yowza.

      I guess my advice is to walk on eggshells here, test the water at every step of the way, and back off if you get signals that it’s not going well. The chart IS somewhat impersonal, so you can always blame it on what the chart is saying rather than yourself.

      (For example, something like this: “What I’m seeing here because he has Moon square Saturn is that there can be some control issues between the two of you. Do you think that’s possible?” and if you get a go-ahead, you might continue with the interpretation, “It seems like he may want more of the limelight, more playfulness than he’s experiencing now. Has he said anything like that?” Something on that order, not focusing directly on her authoritarian approach.)

      I wouldn’t make predictions of separation from the father (especially not to predict divorce) based on Saturn Rx. Saturn is retrograde a long time–this year it was retrograde from January 13 to May 30, 2010, and every single child born on that planet in that 4 1/2 month period had Saturn retrograde.

      According to http://worldometers.info, about 177,000 children are born each day. In the 138 day period Saturn was retrograde, that makes more than 24.5 MILLION children born with Saturn retrograde this year.

      Nope, I’d be looking for more personal, individual confirmations from faster-moving planets. And probably wouldn’t say that at all anyway, least it creates a self-fulfilling prophecy. Our predictions have tremendous power. Donna

      • Few parents ever want to hear anything other than sunshine and roses when it comes to their kids – it takes a lot of fancy footwork to deal with a parent/child reading. Again, I would rather focus on looking at the parent and their approach as an authority figure and their ability to nurture. Are they able to set proper rules and boundaries for their kids, do they try too hard to be a “buddy”, are they too much of a disciplinarian, are they able to be emotionally available? Stuff like that.

        Remember that no one placement or aspect should be taken out of context. Mind the rule of three – especially about big issues. You need much more than an Rx Saturn in a chart to indicate removal or absence of the father – say perhaps a Sun-Saturn opposition and the ruler of the 10th in hard aspect to an outer planet. Look for reinforcement to that theme in multiple places.

      • hi, again. as always, a good reading.

        the divorce was in the mom’s Uranus transiting the Desc and the husband’s Moon and IC getting a conj from SA Uranus. plus the SA Saturn conj Sun in the child’s chart. the child had all sorts of signs that supported the Saturn rx ‘absent father’ phenomenon. I didn’t jump at this; I just got scared when I saw the signs and didn’t want to talk about them. I don’t like it myself to speak about bad things. I’d rather see SA Venus conj Sun in every chart I look at. :-)

        anyways. I think Alethea makes a good point. It’s probably my own unresolved issues as a child that make me want to tell the parent about what they (might) do wrong. And my desire that no child should ever suffer on account of their parents; but the wise approach is to focus on the parent and their chart, their being a parent and so on. I’m shy on taking the therapist approach, but that often seems to be the right one. my own Sag Mercury just wants to get it out and get it over with.

        Donna, that story of yours with the mother not handling it well touches a few cords in me as well. that’s a tough one. I did that on a forum, twice, I think. when they got angry, I used the “don’t ask if you don’t want to know” defense. but in all honesty, I was getting back at them after recognizing in their stories about the child’s problems their own influence. I’ll try to work on my own reaction at any sort of behaviors that I consider ‘abuse’. it pisses me off and it seems to prevent me from doing what’s wise.

        thank you both, very much!

      • The self-awareness you’re gaining is marvellous, Cris. It’s so crucial for astrologers to become aware of their own hot buttons that clients are likely to push and then to refrain from acting those issues out on the client.

        This is a major problem with astrology as a profession–the lack of self-awareness PLUS the “direct conduit to Godlike knowledge” that the client believes we have can result in some pretty terrible mistakes.

        I’d have loved to tell that woman “don’t ask if you don’t want to know,” but #1 it’s not professional to do that to a client (she wasn’t directly a client but the people who write to my column are temporarily my clients) and #2 that column is part of how I earn my living and the magazine would be justified in firing me if I were that rude to one of their irate readers. So I sucked it up and pacified her as best I could without being totally untrue to my perceptions. Donna

      • I couldn’t help but laugh my heart out picturing your jersey housewife incident in my mind! I really hope that a)you appreciated the surrealism of it too, and b) you’ll be wise enough as to lock your door twice for the next couple of months-who would have guessed how dangerous a job astrology counseling can be! I think her plan was to rub your answer to her daughter’s face, and you just messed with her moment of triumph- brave woman!

      • Oh, I have been endlessly amused by it, now that my heart has stopped pounding! You should hear my imitations. Donna

  6. Hi Donna,

    In order to ‘hang a shingle’ as a prof astrologer w/ fee-based services, is it customary to have training & education that is ‘certified’ via school or university coursework? Or are there self-taught prof astrologers, that belong to prof organizations thereby ‘certifying” their credibility? Heck, can one even join a prof astrology org w/out formal institutionalized education?

    BTW: I think Owl is very much off base; anyone in the client’s life should be viewed only via the lens of the client’s chart until the other person of interest is present & agreeable to a reading.

    • Hi, Dixie, I think that’s what Owl meant–that he or she couldn’t feel comfortable doing charts without permission.

      Alas, there are very few University courses that prepare you to be an astrologer. (Psychology and sociology courses would be very good adjuncts, however.)

      There are a number of schools of astrology around the world that help to prepare you–you can find them on search engines. NCGR (the National Council for GeoCosmic Research) has a really sound educational program, as does the Federation of Australian Astrologers, and both of them have exams that test for a series of levels leading up to professional. Certification is a really good credential to have.

      I also think completing a program in Life Coaching would be excellent preparation–adding that to the diagnostic skills that a chart gives you would be very helpful to a client who feels stuck and doesn’t know how to get moving again.

      And yes, self-taught astrologers can and do belong to astrology organizations–including the ones for professional astrologers–but anyone can send in their membership fee and become a member, so its not really a certification. Donna

      • Thank you, ma’m.

  7. Thank you for this article Donna and for your answers as well. I want to share my opinion about reading charts without informed consent of the person.

    It happens in sinastry usually and i think it is not spying,it is actually knowledge and insight.Becouse you can teach your client how to deal with a person they care for,for example a spouse,a friend or a child.By seeing the other person`s faults,ups and downs and qualities why not…you can help your client how to deal,what his or her approach will be toward that person.
    So,beside that guilt feeling that some astrologers have,i think an astrologer is building himself a good karma by doing synastry charts with the consent of only one party becouse he is trying to help,no harm done.

    My problem is charging clients,but i am trying to deal with it,,i live in a “low budget” country,hate to say poor,and people come to me in need obviously,so sometimes i do charts for free.
    I have a question myself and gladly accept any comments :
    If i see in a synastry chart difficult aspects,like many aspects of Neptun in one chart with personal planets in the other chart,few aspects of Saturn between charts,lot of fog and idealisation,or lot of difficult karmic aspects like malefics aspecting South Node,should i tell my client,which is probably so in love,that she/he is not sitting on a bed of roses?or that the roses have thorns as well?How you say the truth?
    Thank you.

    • Inna, a vast amount of harm has been done in the world by people whose motives were good. What comes to mind were the church people who tore Native American children away from their families and sent them to boarding schools and made them give up their language and customs so they could become “good Christians” and “good Americans.”

      As for not charging, I do understand that many people are not in a position to pay with the economy the way it is. Doing service is a good thing, so long as you’re not jeapordizing your own financial survival or draining yourself badly. When I lived in NYC, I often did trades with people when they had a skill I could use. That maintains their dignity–it’s not charity. The best trades were the ones where we both thought we got the better end of the deal.

      The thing about synastry when there are lots of Neptune or Pluto aspects is that the person who is in love is not going to listen anyway, no matter how hard you try to get your point across. You can say the truth in as gentle and nonjudging way as possible.

      (“Look I can see you’re head over heels in love with this guy/gal, but you may be ignoring some parts of him/her that would be hard to live with over the long run. You probably think you can fix your lover or that s/he’ll stop drinking/smoking dope/whatever for the love of you. But once the rosy glow has faded, people go back to being who they really are.”) And then drop it–don’t keep pushing. Donna

  8. Hi Donna! Here’s one from an amateur: I’d like to know your thoughts when it comes to the clientele’s demographics.
    How do you treat clients who are maybe a bit impressionable? (for lack of better phrasing,please excuse the strong word) e.g. those who are more likely to walk out with an ‘omg I’m doomed’ feeling, or those who think that a prediction doesn’t require any initiative on their part to be fullfilled
    How do you treat clients who come to you in their darkest hour? -coz we’re all a hell less reasonable when we feel desperate.
    And do you use the client’s chart as an indicator on how to proceed? (don’t give the moon-neptune person a pretext to complain, don’t give the moon-pluto person a reason to get suspicious, Libra stellium: be polite, Aquarius sun:hit him hard, he appreciates bluntness)

    • Clients in their darkest hour? That’s where having some flower essences on hand to send the client home with can help. The two biggest helps are Rescue Remedy (see: http://skywriter.wordpress.com/2009/11/08/in-a-crisis-rescue-remedy-can-help-you-through-it/ ) and Sweet Chestnut. Definitely read: http://skywriter.wordpress.com/2009/10/19/hope-for-those-in-the-dark-night-of-the-soul/ It willl give you lots of guidance for those sorts of readings. (And read the download on how to use flower essences listed at the bottom of that article.)

      I’d say that when you’re doing a reading in any case, but especially with someone who won’t be a sophisticated consumer of astrology, be extremely careful not to leave a predominantly negative impression. Try for a best case/worst case balance and stress to them that they get to choose to use the planetary enegies consciously and wisely. A review of how they’ve used that planet’s transits or transits to that difficult part of the chart in the past and what they’ve learned from any mistakes is helpful.

      Also look into the chart for what strengths they possess and explore what their resources are for support and help through the difficulty. (Again, there is a chapter on problem solving in the book and another chapter on developing resources that the client can use.) We ARE NOT all the client has–we only can give insight and help them find the help they need.

      I tend to believe that a person who is in a really negative space probably should not have an astrology reading, especially one that gives the outlook for several years in the future. That may only make life seem unbearably bleaker. (“You mean there are three more years of this? I can’t live through that.”)

      When people call me in that frame of mind, I strongly suggest they put off having a reading for a few months, get them to buy some Sweet Chestnut or Rescue Remedy if they’re amenable, and invest that same amount of money in some healing work. Donna

      PS. Yes, the wise astrologer looks at the client’s chart for the best way to communicate with them. And also looks at the synastry between their own chart and the client’s (especially conjunctions) to be aware of any difficult contacts that might cause miscommunication.

  9. hi donna,

    i’ve been strictly at amateur level here for years and years, but since i lost my job a couple weeks ago i am considering putting out the feelers to friends & family to take myself more seriously and really display my passion for astrology – i’ve got the time!

    i don’t quite know what to charge, but my question has more to do with preparation going into a reading. obviously, technology makes preparing charts a pretty quick & painless event, but as an astrologer, one then needs to get a feel, select key themes seen in the chart, etc. i am curious…you’ve been at this for a long time and i can imagine that beyond the advent of technology speeding up chart creation, you’re probably a lot quicker in picking out the themes/ideas you want to address with the client, you can move through topics quickly, etc. most of us realize that an hour of client face time is far less than all the prep work going into meeting with the client.

    can you advise on how much time the practitioner should spend preparing to meet with the client? like, what’s crazy – spending more than two hours prepping? five? i’ve read charts for a few friends, but my biggest issue is getting too caught up in the details, so it slows me waaay down (virgo nitpicky-cover-it-all crap!). what is reasonable? nevermind what one charges. i’m less concerned with the fee and more concerned with fee in relation to time spent (behind the scenes & face-to-face total). do i make sense? it’s late and i’m tired, but i wanna pick your brain! (should i just order your e-book? i just realized maybe i’m being a doofus here.)

    thanks for any comments on this…

    • I think when you’re just starting out, you spend hours preparing, because you’re learning on the job. That’s all to the good–it’s part of your internship, so to speak and will benefit more than just that one client. And the longer you do charts for clients and the more experience you have, the less preparation you need.

      One important key to streamlining the preparation is to have a really good idea of exactly what the client wants and needs. And then you still have to understand the major points and features of that chart, but you can zero in on the houses, planets, and transits that pertain to that question. There are chapters in Counseling Principles for Astrologers that teach you how to find out what the client needs and shape the consultation to be more helpful. Donna

      • thanks, donna! i’m gonna purchase your e-book. this will be really helpful. take care.

  10. I saw some people already asked about reading children’s natal charts. I’m afraid it could be dangerous or harmful if their parents have certain expectations (about talents or behavior). I see there are even grown up people who consciously (I think) start behaving in a way, predicted by a transit – like Mars-Uranus aspect is giving them the right to be short tempered or something like that. How can this phenomena be avoided? I know they should not focus on the negative sides, but I wonder generally, how can we know a prediction without consciously or not, act to fulfill it.

    As for your question for the next topics, I would be really happy to see what guest blogers will have to say. Also, I think it would be interesting if you make exercises sometimes. For example, you give us a chart or two, ask questions and the readers provide interpretations and answers. It will be like a competition and you will have an idea of how our minds work on these topics, so you can provide guidance when needed.

    • In general, I am not the biggest fan of doing children’s charts unless you have some background in counseling or child deveopment. You can do a lot of damage.

      I especially see harm coming from those situations where someone gives the impressionable new mom a baby gift of a reading or printout of the newborn’s chart--and then the astrologer treats it like it’s the chart of an adult. (One astrologer looked at a stellium in Scorpio in a baby boy’s chart and told the mom he’d grow up to be a sex maniac.) Don’t get me started!!!

      It’s best to wait a few years until when the parent-child bond is solid and the parent knows the child better. Then focus on things that relate to a child’s life, not an adult’s. Things like best ways to learn in school, gifts the child can develop, relationships with peers and siblings.

      There is a chapter about children’s and teens charts in the book. Here’s an excerpt: http://skywriter.wordpress.com/2010/03/23/tips-for-working-with-teenagers-and-their-charts/ . Donna

  11. I’ve done charts for close family and friends for a while, but lately some of my friends are encouraging me to take it to the next level…so I’m considering it, but first I have to get over myself and think that I can actually do it!

    My question would be: what kind of process you’d recommend to ‘connect’ with the chart/client and then, when the session is done, to ‘disconnect’.
    As for the comments about children’c charts, is a mayor topic for me. Speaking more as a mom here, and with very little experience with children’s carts! if I may, I’d say that first is a good idea to let the parents know astrology can be a great tool to see the child’s potentials OUTSIDE our expectations. And then then as we see the chart, ask ourselves what can we say that will really help them, when a certain dynamic seems to be a difficult one…and/ or touches our personal buttons (like it was said above).

    It is sad that a parent would come asking questions and then not wanting to face the answers. I’ve waited looong to look at my own child’s chart because honestly, I was too scared to see something bad. But I’ve appreciated someone else telling me things from another perspective, the whole point is to help the child to have a more fulfilling live and for us to be better parents right?

    Blessings and all the best for the blossoming astrologers out there!

    • Good question, Sabrina. I think for me, the connection to the client comes as I prepare the chart. That’s why I liked to do the preparation (or at least a review) the same day as the session, because insights and ideas I want to convey just disappear if I do it several days before. And I form a link in my mind between my higher self and the client’s higher self (I do the same when I lecture or teach, except for the whole audience. If I don’t feel like I’m seeing what I need to see in the chart to answer the questions the client has given me, I pray to God to step aside and let Divine guidance take the session over.

      Disconnecting afterward is an important discipline, because especially if there has been a strong contact formed, our auras merge and there can be quite a drain. I go through the chakras and unscrew any cords, saying, “All __________’s needs are met by God.” And I pretend that I’m vaccuuming out of my aura anything I absorbed from the person. Donna

      • This is really helpful advice, Donna. I tend to have a hard time disconnecting.

  12. As always, a learning experience here on this blog. I HAD to shut my business down after 14 years this summer and started a blog as I had been doing readings for “FREE” for about 10 years.

    How do you determine what fee to charge? I would appreciate feedback on this question. I base it on time, yes, but I find some “charts” just speak to me so I end up do more. And I am fine with that. What is your opinion about “donation-based” readings? Any experiences one way or the other? I thought that might stimulate the “Astro-Economy?” If there is a formula that you can share I would appreciate it as there is no need to re-invent the wheel.

    I learned very quickly about readings for “friends/lovers” and this is not a fun experience. A client bought a reading for her fiancee for his birthday. That was fine except that when I got there she was there. I realized there were BIG issues before I arrived, but basically they wanted me to tell them if they should get married or not. I was shocked and had to tell them it was there CHOICE, not mine. I almost ended it before I got started. They broke up the next day and two weeks later she tried to “buy” another reading for a new boyfriend. I passed, that’s not fair to the person receiving the reading or to me, but then, that’s my opinion…

    • Hi, Robin, best of luck in starting your paid practice. Ten years is a goodly amount of experience, so, yes you’re certainly more than entitled to be paid. I don’t honestly know what the “going rate” is for a 10-year professional.

      It may depend somewhat on the area of the country (rural vs. big city, for instance) and the economic realities of that state or region. Are there other astrologers or Tarot readers etc in the area? If so, can you find out what they’re charging? That might be somewhat of a guideline.

      Another factor might be how long a session is and what it covers–is it natal only, natal plus transits, or what? Like maybe you give them a printout about their chart to take home—some software like Solar Fire does that–so then you charge more.

      I honestly can’t give you a figure. On the one hand, if you start out too high, it might not work, but on the other hand, clients who’ve become regulars hate it when you raise your fees. I guess I’d aim high but not so high it doesn’t work.

      Donation based fees? I’ve never tried it, but I suspect people will give the minimum. Do it if you’re comfortable with it, but you might list a suggested donation so they have some idea what you’d want. Donna

  13. Donna, I’ve heard from several experienced Astrologers that once you learn the basics of Astrology, the best way to gain knowledge and get better is to “practice, practice, practice”. That makes sense, but it also means that when you initially hang out your shingle, you are, for all intents and purposes, a novice – and novices are potentially wrong as often as they’re right. I’m thinking of that quote, “A little bit of knowledge is a dangerous thing”…

    My questions: 1) when you’re just starting out, should you tell [warn] clients that you’re a ‘beginner’ and still learning? 2) How do you do that without scaring them away?

    • I started–when I still needed lots of practice–by doing mini-sessions for my friends for free. Then I did quite a few sessions where I charged the person only what I needed to buy some much-needed astrology books. With all those people, I did tell them I was an advanced student just starting out. People in my circle knew anyway that I was an avid student, and my enthusiasm was contaigious, so they were curious.

      One way I was lucky is that I got hired on by American Astrolgy to do written interpretations for $35. They were long, but I could take my time in writing them out–consulting textbooks–and I got practice in articulating the chart. Maybe with Christmas and the beginning of 2011 coming, you could sell some written interps as presents. I also restricted my work to natal charts at that point, as I wasn’t feeling confident in making predictions yet. I also didn’t do synastry for the same reason. With all of them, I was upfront about still being a student, and it didn’t seem to put them off. Hope this helps. Donna

  14. Hi, Donna. Thanks for this thread.

    As an astrologer I’m very clear that I am not a psychologist or a therapist. Yet it seems like in most cases people are interested in getting their chart interpreted because they have an issue they want to discuss with somebody, and many times the issue is really a deep-seated problem. Not only do I not feel qualified to address it, I also don’t enjoy spending my time with people in those states of mind.

    But I do love astrology and think it is a fascinating and useful thing to share with people. So what do you think of this approach, which I’ve been trying lately: I ask the person to come up with specific questions or issues they would like me to address. Then I record a session for them and email it to them. This way I feel I can get into the essence of the chart, the person, and the question, but without being swayed by their reactions.

    People have responded well to this method, but I guess I’m concerned that astrology sessions must be done face to face or somehow they are not complete in some way.

    What do you think?

    • I see nothing wrong with your approach, Ellen. Every astrologer has a different way of working, a different expertise, a different comfort zone. We’re not meant to be cookie cutter astrologers. The magnetic law of attraction ensures that the people who need what you do will find you.

      As for face to face sessions, I did nothing but phone work for about 18 years until I retired. That requires some adjustments, since you miss the visual clues as to how they are responding to what you say, so you have to ask more questions, but it worked fine. Donna

  15. You made some excellentpoints and I’m glad indeed you were brutally true.


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