Posted by: Donna Cunningham | April 7, 2010

English for Astrologers–No Astrobabble Please

 ©4-7-10 by Donna Cunningham, MSW

2014 CPA cvr-CunnninghamNote: The following is an excerpt from Donna Cunningham’s ebook, Counseling Principles for Astrologers, available  from

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. It struck me that it­ would be fun to substitute unfamiliar and irrelevant terms for ­our jargon and then to read astrologers’ charts using those terms. That way, they can have a fresh experience of how it feels ­when they bombard clients with jargon.

I found some delightful words in Webster’s Dictionary and have dubbed them over the astrobabble. They are perfectly good English words,­ but the meanings assigned to them are arbitrary, for­ demonstration purposes only. We’ll call this Neo-Astrologese. Imagine that you go for a consultation, and the astrologer says:

“You’re worried about your job? I’d say you have cause to worry. Saturn is hoovering your Palanquin–wambles it from the 6th. It’s holophrastic still, but in December the frenzel is huffish. In January, Saturn goes planetesimal,still wamble the Palanquin, and then it’s ratcheting until August. You’re not out of the woods until it flenzes and makes that final wamble in about November of next year.”

That was difficult to understand, wasn’t it? Not difficult­ enough, however. Words like Saturn, Mars, and Pluto have reams of­ meaning to us that the layperson can’t begin to fathom. When a ­lay person hears the word Saturn, it means virtually nothing, whereas astrologers have written whole books about Saturn. Therefore, let’s switch terms again, so your mind doesn’t have those associations to draw on.

Let’s call the Sun by its other name, SOL, and the planets­ by astronomical notations. Mercury is SOL1, and Venus is SOL2.­ The Moon, strictly speaking, is the satellite of the Earth (SOL3). Saturn is­ SOL6. Keep going, up to Neptune, which would be SOL8, and Pluto,­ which would be SOL9.

Now, let’s try again. To more nearly re-create the client’s ­anguish, first work yourself into a total funk about your future. Then, have someone read the following paragraph aloud, with­ appropriate head shaking and frowning, while you sit squirming, with sweaty palms and a dull ache of dread in the pit of your stomach:

 “Well, the problem in your relationships stems from that endarch between SOL2 and SOL7 in your 7th house. Of course, the dihedryl from SOL6 doesn’t help either. Now, SOL9 is rostellating your Bicuspid, on top of everything else. It’s not huffish yet, won’t be until this summer. Before that it double ratchets and forms another condyl to SOL5, so that should help some.”

It sounds awesome and terrible, doesn’t it? All these incomprehensible and apparently not very friendly alien forces­ are messing with your life, and there’s nothing you can do about ­them. No doubt, you wish you’d never come for the appointment. At least beforehand ­you didn’t know there was all this double-ratcheting and­ hoovering going on. Like you needed something more to worry­ about!

Readers, are you guilty of speaking Astrobabble to complete strangers?  Are you so addicted to astrology that you can’t communicate without reference to signs and aspects?  Find out just how bad it is by taking  The Astrobabble Quiz, Joyce Mason’s hilarious take on the topic at The Radical Virgo.

Note: This has been an excerpt from Donna Cunningham’s ebook, Counseling Principles for Astrologers, available  from  Donna’s ebooks are $15 or 3 for $35.

More Excerpts from Donna’s Books:


  1. ThankYou Donna Cunningham !!!

    This is Going to be Aha and Aha ha ha many Times from Now on !!!!

    It Really make me laugh because i have a little hard time when i was understanding what are They talking about in Astrology and i do not mean the BlogaThon !!!

    I could add Quincunx 150, subtle 30° , Harsh 135°, Kite, Galactic Center, 45°, Midpoint, Septile (Intuition), UnderWorld etc.

    Interesting to make a Dictionary of This Terms !!!

    I Understand them now but it is not easy for me to give my point of view and prefer Yours because it is going to be a good one I Know !!!

    I really enjoy This Refreshing Fun Thing You are Guiding Us Now because i haven´t finished all Great info From BlogaThon and i am going to enjoy that more by watching this not less interesting and Fun Info !!!

    i laugh a lot and enjoy it while remembering !!!

    Best Wishes !!!

    • I’m so glad you’re enjoying all this, Jorge. I think sometimes we get the point of a teaching better when it is done with humor than with lecturing. Donna

  2. Thank you Donna! I read outloud (and then laughed out loud) the subsitituted terminology charts. Just last week I went to look at a room for rent in a house, and found out the woman was an astrologer. She inquired about the basics, and what I thought was going to be a brief chat became an epic!

    Everything about her house and why it was decorated the way it was, related to an aspect in her chart, or what transits were happening when she chose to move there, etc. etc.

    Her other roommate was there, and I feel self conscious speaking astro babble around people who just don’t speak the language. It really excludes them from the conversation, which can be downright rude. It would be like three people being in the room that all spoke Spanish, and two people who additionally spoke French, choosing to talk on all night long in French, nodding and smiling at the one who didn’t like she should understand.

    But the astrologer woman didn’t seem to notice how bewildered, and then irritated, her other roommate was becoming, and I just felt really uncomfortable, and embarrassed for her, trying to change the subject.

    She also started to ‘astro-analyze’ me in a completely unsolicited way. Boundaries people!! I love that you try to help people be more conscious of how they speak astrology, where, and to who. I have become more aware of my own habits, usually by being subjected to other peoples, and not liking being on the other end of it.

    I so appreciate that you try to educate astrologers on more then just the aspects and transits, etc., but on the human components of communication, empathy, and awareness of other people’s experience of us. Makes me think of one of the Mercury quotes you sent out: “Most conversations are monologues with witnesses.” Not sure who said it, but it made me laugh. Bless.

    • Thank you, Gracebound. If you thought your “interview” with the prospective landlord was bad, trying going to a 3 day astrology conference where astrobabble is the main language! By the end of the first day, you’d be almost comatose! Donna

  3. Donna, this was just as funny almost 20 years after I first heard excerpts at UAC! Thanks for directing your readers to The Astrobabble Quiz on The Radical Virgo. As you can imagine, The Radical Virgo thinks it’s high time we cleaned up our language–LOL!

  4. When in doubt, rostellate! It works for me! Donna

  5. OMG that’s so hilarious and so true!!!!!!!!!

    I was on a bus one time with an astrologer friend, coming home from a party. We were both more than a little sozzled, but he was very earnestly trying to explain antiscion and tertiary directions to me in greatest detail! I swear, it sounded just like your Neo-Astrologese quotations!!! 🙂

  6. Oh Donna, you are a woman after my own heart.

    I quite agree we should talk ‘English’ when speaking to clients….after all that’s how they talk to me…

    Great reminder, just wish more people spoke it!

  7. Loved this post. I agree, when with humans, it would be polite to talk human.

    But I adore astrobabble…

  8. yes yes yes.
    I have been trying to find friends on an astrological forum.
    I admit my eyes cross when someone starts talking about how their saturn square venus has been afflicting their progressed mars and then they start talking about stars and why their personalities are just so because of these stars (that i have never heard of)
    on the other hand both my husband and my best friend will occasionally say to me; Is that retrograde thing (merc rx) happening again???

  9. A dear friend asks me every once in a while, when things are a mess for her, “The Moon is retrograde again, right?” It’s endearing to hear that because I know she’s trying. Very sweet.

  10. Oh Donna, I laughed at this until I cried. I especially loved huffish, rostellating and Bicuspid. I want to find ways to work them into every conversation now! Thanks for sharing.

    • Glad you’re finding it fun. A bunch of us that worked on the blogathon together are making this month a time to find the humor in astrology. Join us by putting some up on your blog, Midlife Transits, if you will. Donna

      • Oh yes, I’ve been trying. But my humorous side ironically choked under pressure. (I actually used to write comedy in my younger days.) So I decided to post a game instead. It’d be great to have your readers play along.

        The game is Astro Songs. Rules are super simple and frighteningly addictive: Just add any song you can think of that relates to the astro symbol of the day.

        Today’s game is Top 10 Pluto theme songs. My suggestions are here:

        Have fun and watch out. Once you start thinking of songs for a planet, it’s hard to stop!

      • Loved the game, Victoria! I’m finding that a lot of the posts/articles/whatever I discover or write for National Humor Month aren’t uproariously funny, but they are Fun. Fun is good too! So now the pressure is off, and I wouldn’t be surprised to see you getting back to writing some comedy too. You’re such a fluent, accessible writer. I tried reading a how-to book about comedy not long ago, and found my eyes–and my mind–glazing over. Donna

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