A guest post by Liz Howell, (c)12-6-2014
Note from Donna: Our current discussion on setting healthy boundaries started with thoughtful exchanges on that subject with fellow Portland astrologer, Liz Howell. I asked her to share her conclusions on this blog.
Donna, thanks for provoking some thought on this topic and getting me to churn my wheels on boundaries and guidelines I have developed for myself over the years in my astrological practice.
I can’t say that I have any hard and fast rules, but I do know that I am forever learning, adjusting and bringing deeper clarity to both my ability to help others and the appropriateness of my engagement as an astrologer.
When in doubt, I generally error on the side of caution and will not hesitate to say NO to a new or existing client or opportunity if I feel that there is any conflict of interest. I think the most common thread that appears in all the boundary issues I have encountered as a practicing astrologer boil down to having to play multiple roles and wear more than one hat at a time. Two Examples:
#1: Never Read for Anyone in Your Building:
This was the advice New York City astrologer, Carole Murray, gave me early in my career and it has served me well over the decades. I considered compromising this “rule” on a few occasions but was very glad I did not actually establish a professional consulting relationship with any of the people requesting readings in apartment buildings or housing situations in which I lived.
I can see how this can really complicate things if you are having to conduct yourself as a person’s paid trusted advisor while also having to negotiate interpersonal conflict you may be experiencing directly as a result of living under the same roof.
#2: Refer Your Family Members Out to Qualified Astrologers:
Everyone loves to joke about having an astrologer in the family, whether they think you are a direct channel to the divine or a crackpot doing cheap parlor tricks on the side. Either way, your free advice and forecasting abilities will be called upon regularly. So, not only is the appropriateness of establishing a professional consulting relationship with a family member in question, but also the issue of charging for the service.
For me this has been an evolving challenge and for the first 10 years of my practice, I did NOT offer professional services to family, but instead referred them out to one of my trusted teachers.
But If You Go There:
In the last 8 years, I have gradually taken on readings for family members in large part due to the fact that I feel much clearer about how and where I can be of service or a strong support by using the foundation of the family relationship as an opportunity to venture into greater depth of material covered based on the shared history and understanding of this person’s world.
What I always need to keep front and center as we explore their astrology is that the reading is about them, about their experience and about their interpretation of their world. So even if I have insider information on events or if I see them headed for the same misstep for the umpteenth time, I must suspend personal judgement and approach with objectivity and the fresh eyes of an astrologer who is analyzing the planetary dynamics with their individual growth and development in mind.
I am quite clear that I do not want to discuss 8th house sexual issues with my mother or rehash ancient 3rd house sibling rivalry with my sister, so there can be subjects I will sidestep. If I felt that greater in-depth exploration would be required in one of these areas, I would simply identify the area theoretically and suggest ways in which subsequent investigation with another practitioner or therapist would be helpful to them.
Since family is forever, it must be recognized that if you take family on and then decide you need to fire them as a client, you still need to be prepared to sit at the Thanksgiving table with them, break bread and resume your family roles in a comfortable way. I did have this happen in one case and was able to resolve it fairly seamlessly. When I found the boundaries were getting blurred, and the burden of maintaining the boundaries had grown too large, I recused myself as astrological consultant to that family member and let them know why I was doing so.
Ultimately, I think as skilled as we presume ourselves to be at separating and compartmentalizing our roles, eventually the professional and personal collide and it can be messy without clear intention, healthy boundary assignment and understanding the division of responsibility between client and service provider. Reviewing and sharpening the edges of my professional relationships is an ongoing exercise I welcome daily and I believe I am a better astrologer for it.
About the Author: For the last two decades, Liz Howell has been a practicing astrologer and educator working in Portland, Oregon and Honolulu, Hawaii. In addition to her work with astrology and her company, Celestial Living Arts, she is a former dancer, chef, media and advertising executive, massage therapist, world traveler, avid hiker, yogi and always happy to be found in the garden. For astrological services, contact her at Liz@CelestialLivingArts or visit her website at: www.celestiallivingarts.com.
Readers, have you been in situations like the ones Liz is describing? How did it work out?
Other Skywriter articles about boundaries:
- What your Astrology Chart Says about your Boundary Issues
- Boundaries 101 ~ A Course for Neptunians
- Boundaries 201–Ten More Tips for Neptunians
- Neptune in the 11th House–Setting Boundaries in Friendship
- 6 Common Misconceptions about Boundaries in a Relationship
- The 3 Major Ways of Setting Boundaries—Which Type are You?
- Neptune and the Cosmic Soup–How Psychic Contagion Depletes Us
- Feeling Drained by a Relationship? Cut those Psychic Cords!