©2010 by Donna Cunningham and Skywriter Readers
Last week I published an article about difficult transits and the responsibility we have as professional astrologers to discuss both the positive and the negative potential of an aspect. A lively debate ensued in the comment section, and I’m reproducing parts of it here because discussions like these are valuable.
Cris wrote: I respectfully disagree with you on this – the specifics, not the general idea. In my experience, astrology books and even astrologers are full of doom-and-gloom predictions. You were lucky to find so many people with positive attitudes, but generally, hard transits, from slow planets are interpreted in negative, fatalistic ways. And I see absolutely no gain in doing so.
So, when observing a transit hitting a difficult natal combination, I’d say it is more productive to discuss that client’s usual patterns of response – and NOT the trigger (i.e. the transit), thus putting the focus on the client, and their taking charge of their life, and not an outside influence, putting them in a helpless, poor-me state of mind.
I agree with you about interpreting transits (or Solar Arcs, etc) in the context of a personal chart/personality and life-reality of that client, and in doing so, warning them about their no-so-productive ways of dealing or coping with difficult situations – loss, challenges, mistakes, etc.
There may be a delicate difference between this and your viewpoint, but I believe it is very important. Why? People do not respond well to “threats”, even when they come as “advice”, “warning”, or some other nice helpful hand.
My reply: Hi, Chris, I’m not sure we disagree on anything. I’m referring to astrologers who cannot speak to clients at all about the self-destructive ways they may be using the more difficult planetary energies but who instead paint a rosy glowing picture. They don’t dialogue with clients to find out how they are using or have used those difficult placements in the past.
If clients have done self-destructive things but have used them to learn and grow, that is one thing, and I would praise them for it but indicate that there is another interval coming in which it would be possible to be tempted to go back to the old pattern. Until we know more about the person, we have no idea how they will handle a difficult transit, so we have to ask. We need to find out whether our clients are vulnerable in the areas of life being touched by a difficult transit like the coming t-square.
Suppose there is a Mars-Uranus conjunction natally in early Libra in the 1st, and Saturn, Uranus, and Pluto are all about to set it off. You need to explore whether that client has a pattern of taking dangerous physical risks…or perhaps of attracting dangerous people—and a history of difficult consequences in those situations.
Would you then not be derelict in your duty if you did not explain to the client what the consequences could be at a time like that? And exploring exactly why they take risks of that sort, increasing their understanding of their own responsibility for the consequences.
The terminally positive astrologer might phrase it in terms of “exhilarating new freedom of expression” and miss the point entirely.
I do share your concern that there are also all too many terminally negative astrologers who try to terrify clients into better behavior. Neither extreme is good astrological practice, and both are destructive in their own way. In practice, what I aim for is a balance of describing the best possible outcome of a transit while also exploring whether the person is currently using the aspect in a self-sabotaging way. I then explore with them the resources or healing approaches they could take to shift the outcome to a more positive one. THAT is astrological counseling; predicting an outcome as a surety–whether terminally positive or devastatingly negative–is fortune telling.
Mandi Lockley recalls: I started by reading charts for friends and one friend had a background of being abused in relationships and I found this was very obviously depicted in her chart. She was in a new relationship and wanted to know if it would work out, so we discussed her past relationship patterns. However, she was to a large extent in denial, with rose-coloured glasses about the new person and only wanted to hear about having a happy ending, not about dealing with these difficult relationship issues.
This was a big learning curve for me, the whole denial thing. However, I still feel it was my responsibility to at least try to discuss the issues with her, even though she was not ready to deal with them as it turned out. If I had just told her that it would all turn out wonderfully, which is what she wanted to hear, I would not have been doing my job.
LB expresses one of her concerns: Some professional astrologers seem unaware of the wide range of unique manifestations of the planetary aspects within their clients’ charts or else end up spiritually blaming their client for every major negative situation the client encounters, which isn’t always helpful, nor is it always valid. Some people with powerful aspects (and planetary placements) project and some don’t.
Donna confesses: I WAS the type of astrologer you describe, back in the day when I’d been involved with astrology less than 10 years. I was carrying the message, preaching metaphysics, thoughts creating reality, knew it all, and had personally invented it.
I think Neptune might have been in Sag in those days, and MY Jupiter hadn’t been slapped around quite as much in those days. (See Hyperactive Jupiter Syndrome—The Down Side of an Upbeat Planet.) Causality is much more complex than we’d like it to be. We don’t just have our own karma; we have Group Karma that shapes the kinds of events and social conditions we are starting to see. Donna
CJ Wright gives her perspective: I live by the “how do you want this to turn out?” motto because it’s ultimately our behavior that influences the results of a transit, whether that transit is good or bad. If we can see that a tough time is coming up for someone else or for ourselves–as an example, Uranus transits the 5th and a “stable” relationship might be broken as a result of an affair–we have to ask whether losing that “stable” relationship is okay. Is it better to strengthen the long-term relationship or end it and move on? In other words, what do we want to happen as a result of actions taken during that transit? So, yes, it’s our duty to ask tough questions in tough times AND tough questions in easier times, too.
Ellen Longo shares a recent exchange: The other day a client said to me, I almost didn’t call you because I didn’t want the astrology to affect my thinking on this. I had to admit I knew exactly what she meant. With Uranus natally on her Ascendant, she wants to be free from the cycles of nature. And she understands how much our thoughts create our experience of life, whatever it brings.
And so much is up to the client: there are those who see us because they want help tuning in, and there are those who want us to tell them that their future is rosy. For those that want the “future is rosy” story, I try to be uplifting and tell them the best way to approach and use a difficult time that is coming. I agree with you, it’s not my place to burst the bubble of their world-view. There are also those who come in fear, in which case I try to lighten their load with the more positive interpretations. I get concerned that people’s fear of difficulty will tend to invite the difficulty. So it’s a difficult balancing act, subtle and demanding.
How about you, Readers? Where do you stand on this issue? Share your thoughts in the comment section.
Related articles of interest to astrologers and their clients:
- Facing the Difficult Potentials of a Transit
- What to Tell Astrology Clients about Pluto in Capricorn
- Chart Clues to Marriage—Will You or Won’t You?
Hyperactive Jupiter Syndrome—The Down Side of an Upbeat Planet
- Awful Things Astrologers Say to Clients
- Catastrophobia: What Causes it and How to Heal it
Note: Counseling Principles for Astrologers–Becoming an Effective Change Agent, my ebook for professionals and advanced students who want to become astrologers is available at Moon Maven Publications for $15.