©4-17-2010 by Donna Cunningham, MSW
I have a confession to make that may surprise some of you. I haven’t read an astrology book or taken a class since about 1975. When I speak at an astrology conference, I seldom attend any of the lectures—except for friends whose talks I couldn’t skip without insulting them. And yet I have never once stopped learning about this endlessly fascinating subject of ours in the more than 40 years I’ve been involved in it. How is that possible?
I learn from listening as clients and friends share what is going on for them with transits. Active, involved listening with tons of questions. I learn from comparing their natal charts to how they operate in different situations. I learn from celebrities’ lives and from headlines about huge events. In short, I learn from observing the real world and the people in it. Without ceasing. And with one eye on an ephemeris. I call this real world astrology.
Real world astrology is the greatest teacher of our art. Theoretical astrology—and there’s an awful lot of it out there—is only theory if it’s not based in direct observation.
Does this mean you should stop reading astrology books? Of course not. I hope you read mine. But don’t let reliance on cookbook interpretations replace direct observation, or you’ll wind up using them as a crutch.
You’ll suffer from mental paralysis as you prepare for a reading, and you’ll drag those books down from the shelves, hoping to find the exact chart feature you need. If someone asks you an astrology question in Starbucks, you’re lost!
In choosing books or classes, gravitate towards those that encourage you to learn how to put the combinations together yourself, rather than memorizing everything.
The Down Side of Cookbook Astrology
There’s another consequence of relying only on astrology texts—even mine. Each astrologer attracts mostly a certain type of client, based on the astrologer’s own chart.
When I was first starting out, I honestly believed most people had Venus-Saturn aspects, because most of the charts I encountered did. Finally I realized that I was attracting Venus-Saturn friends and clients because of my own Venus-Saturn conjunction. I hardly knew anybody with a Venus-Jupiter conjunction, so I hadn’t a clue what that aspect would be like. I wasn’t even certain it existed.
And I’m not unique in drawing clients like myself—it’s pretty universal among astrologers and healers, based on the law of attraction. That being true, the conclusions an astrological author or lecturer reaches about astrology—and thus about life—are likely to be from a point of view limited by their own experience.
If you, as a typical eager student, accept our perspectives as the absolute truth, then your understanding of astrology is based on preconceived notions that are limited to the experience of the astrologers whose ideas you read or study.
Those ideas are of value as a starting place, but they may or may not be applicable to the charts that come your way–or the particular niche of clients that you attract. Only keenly observing—and actively questioning—the person whose chart you’re working with can reveal the patterns.
How I’ve learned the myriad ways a given aspect or chart feature can express itself is by listening to many, many clients with that feature over the years.
Now that I’m retired from doing charts, I’ve wondered—and worried—about the possibility that my knowledge base will atrophy over the years and become outdated because of the ever-shifting astrological combinations.
Continuing Education for an Astrologer Retired from Active Duty
I needn’t have worried though. Because what has happened here on Skywriter is that the comment sections for many of the topics we’re working with are filled with information from insightful, articulate, self-aware readers. I still get to ask questions about what particular chart features mean to a variety of people and exactly how they get expressed. And people respond from the heart.
For instance, I wrote about a stellium in the 11th house in my chart, and asked readers with stelliums to share about their own in The Incredible Vulnerability a Stellium Creates. The sharing went on for days, and in the end, people with stelliums in all 12 houses had pitched in. So we learned, in a way no single chart consultation could have provided, about the full range of stelliums. The response to that—and other posts like Uranus in Aries—a Heads Up for the Accident Prone have been like mini research projects or tutorials.
Thank you, readers, for sharing yourselves and your experiences. You teach us all, and I for one love to hear about your lives. Links to articles that have been enriched by readers’ comments are here: Articles that made Readers Want to Share.
Articles for Professional Astrologers
- Q&A: What Professional Astrologers Want to Know
- English For Astrologers–No Astrologese Please
- Astrologers’ Hang-ups about Money—How they Hurt our Clients
- Awful Things Astrologers Say to Clients
- Tips for Working with Teenagers’ Charts
- Chart Clues to Marriage—Will You or Won’t You?
- More Insights into Healing Grief and Loss
- Q&A: What Professional Astrologers Want to Know
- Avoiding Potholes on the Professional Path (Link post)
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