Posted by: Donna Cunningham | July 10, 2009

The Secret Astrology Decoder Ring Club

©2009 by guest blogger,  Shannon Bowman,

Donna says:  One of the delights of the blogosphere is that it’s putting me in touch with fresh astrological talent and new insights by younger astrologers who aren’t getting much exposure in the journals and astrology conferences. I’m always pleased to encourage their gifts by featuring them as guest bloggers.  Here’s this week’s discovery, Shannon Bowman, in a delightful post that I’m sure you’ll relate to.

secretdecoderringI was teaching a tarot class last night, and since I had a kabbalah enthusiast and another astrologer, we veered off into zodiac symbolism after a while (note: I love talking about the astrology/tarot intersection. It just turns my crank). We were sitting around the table talking about significators and archetype goodness, and at one point I said I identified with the concept of Justice, and other air-element things, because I have five planets in Libra. In the third house. I’m all about the air and the balance, oh yes.

To my right, the astrologer laughs and says “Wow. Yeah, I can definitely see that about you.”

We all had a good chuckle, and then moved on to other things. But I started thinking about it later, and realized that we use those kinds of flags a LOT. And I don’t mean just completely-obsessive-astrology-buff types either; average people do this with Sun signs too:

Oh, you’re such a Virgo!


I’m a Scorpio; people don’t mess with me much.

But a lot of people like you and me (when we’re around people that know what the hell we’re talking about) slide into astro-jargon as shorthand. I think when you’re talking to the right people this is a good thing.

Note that I’m not talking about using your natal aspects to justify your behavior– that’s a rant for another time- -but just as a description, as something to consider. I can tell people

I have Mars in Leo in the 1st so I’m enthusiastic, but I struggle with being a know-it-all sometimes and try to tone that part down.

That’s different from saying

I have Mars in Leo in the 1st so I’m wired to be a bitch. People just have to accept me for who I am.secretvenus-wikimedia

The first is descriptive, the second is using an aspect to justify, well, being a bitch.

Here’s another example: at the last SFAA meeting, I was standing next to the chapter president in a roomful of chattering, bubbly people. After a bit he started looking at his watch and looking antsy, and I saw we were on a twenty-minute break instead of ten.

I’m Saturn rising,” he said rather sheepishly. “I like to keep everything running on time.”

I was charmed by this, because it was sort of a secret code: this thing gives me this flavor. I felt like I understood how he ticked a little better. This is why I love doing natal readings for people who know nothing about astrology too, because I feel like I’m letting them in on a secret. A new way to describe things they already know about themselves, an explanation for those weird habits.

What’s your secret shorthand? Do you have aspects you describe yourself with sometimes?

About the Author:  Shannon Bowman is an astrologer and creative mentor who helps people uncover real, practical guidance from their hearts and horoscopes. She says, “I think of myself first as a support crew for people with a real Pluto connection: either in their birth chart, or while slogging through a difficult transit. I feel really strongly about the human struggle- the heartbreak and pain and love of life and the quest to understand what we’re supposed to be doing.  The first 17 years of my life were a long series of difficult, near-constant Pluto transits (sometimes more than one at a time!) and I’m undergoing a more harmonious set of the same these days, so Pluto and I have quite a working relationship by now! From this I’ve learned what inquisitive, artsy types need so they can spend less time feeling angsty and stuck, and more time doing the things that make them happy.”  See her blog at:

Art Credits:  Donna tweaked the image of the secret decoder ring from one of the jillions of photos on the web–no telling which one. The photo of Francois Jouffroy’s beautiful statue of Venus telling a secret comes from Jastrow (2006) and is in the public domain on Wikimedia commons.

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