I’ve held off posting the last piece in this series partly because I didn’t know what to say in the introduction. Yesterday, I posted a comment on a discussion going on at Donna Cunningham’s blog and it sparked off this chain of thought. Donna’s put up Christina Rodenbeck’s very relevant piece about “coming out” as an astrologer. I no longer struggle with this issue. If I meet someone new and I like them, I tell them that in a few years from now, I’m going to be a professional astrologer. The jeers and ridicule I faced as a teenager are now a thing of the past. Whether they are in their twenties, or in their mid-thirties like me, or older; the people I meet don’t give me a hard time about astrology. Of course I meet skeptics, but I’m always happy to answer and educate those who honestly want to know more. I don’t approach the world with a desire to convert people into believers. And should I meet someone who wants to engage in a tirade about it, I’ve decided not to feed my energy into that. Here’s a Wodehouse quote I like and that you can use when faced with the uninformed who rant and rave about astrology: “Mere abuse is not criticism.”
I see some of my astrology friends engage in long-winded arguments with skeptics on the Internet. I honor people who stand up and defend astrology. She belongs to us and we to her and we owe her our loyalty. But if you want to make astrology look good, you will do more for the cause by looking at yourself. We, her students and practitioners, are the living faces of astrology. We make her look good if we conduct ourselves ethically, honestly and with dignity. This also applies to how we interact with each other: discussions and arguments are important and everyone learns something from them. But when they turn into ego battles and mud-flinging, we all look bad.
Astrology draws to itself all sorts. There is Madam Zelda with her crystal ball on one end of the spectrum. And as you move to the other end of the spectrum you find true scholars like Dawn Bodrogi, prodigies like Chris Brennan, professionals that awe you with their mastery of the subject like Michael O’Reilly and people like Dr. John P. O’Grady who approach astrology with reverence.
Astrology needs all her children: the ones that write books on sophisticated astrological topics as well as the ones who do a regular sun sign column. While we’re on the subject of sun sign astrology, personally, I am in favor of it because it keeps the subject alive in the mind of the populace. And after reading Michael Lutin’s books, I have come to recognize that much can be gleaned even from the solar chart. But whatever it is you do, do it with pride and do it honorably. You want to know about the future of astrology? You are the future of astrology.
There were the final questions:
a) Have you made your peace with the reactions you get when you tell people what you do?
b)Do you ever get bitter and wish you had never heard of it?
Jeremy Neal: a) Completely. I’ve had a few people tell me to my face that it’s a load of crap and I’m obviously a bit feeble-minded. I don’t rise to that and never really have; usually I just nod and smile and change the subject as tactfully as I’m able. Actually, I feel a little sorry for those people who need to tell me that what I do is nonsense; it says far more about their unhappiness than it ever does about what I do with my life. Quite apart from anything else it’s an attempt to quantify the immeasurable, and it’s something of a fad for the Pluto in Virgo generation, but one which will undoubtedly end in a rather edgy, neurotic decline. If somebody actually saw and understood what I was doing in my work, and still espoused the same conviction, then I might be worried, but that’s yet to happen.
b) I suppose there might be a mental trick that would make that possible; but astrology makes you develop a rather Zen mindset, it’s a consequence of the implacability of the mechanism of astrology itself. The Universe could seem to be very cruel if you are resisting it all the time, so I have learned to go around with the mantra “it is what it is” never far from my lips; I’ve managed to reconcile some fairly incredible situations in my life that way. Other people would be outraged if they had to experience some of my difficulties but it becomes a philosophical cul-de-sac for me. If I wasn’t this way then would this still happen to me? Probably not. But there would be other consequences. I prefer to concentrate on my karma. One of the great frustrations of this approach is realization that (unlike many authorities proclaim) we don’t have a karmic bank-account. Not in the way that we are either in credit or overdrawn. I don’t believe for example that I can get away with a little bad provided I’ve done plenty of good to counterbalance it, as though I’d just “spent” a little of my credit. Bad is bad is bad. No amount of good behavior can excuse a deliberately malicious act. So I cannot be bitter about astrology, it is a window into our own souls and once you’ve seen the mechanism you innately comprehend the consequences. This cannot happen instantaneously, we have to deepen and find our boundaries and that takes time and experience, but once we have seen that we are programmed to behave in a certain destructive way we cannot avoid the consequences of behaving that way: it is no longer, due to our consciousness of it, a compulsion; we are no longer excused, karma is accrued. I cannot be bitter about that, although I do inevitably acknowledge that my life would probably be in one sense easier without that insight, certainly I would not have to contend with myself. But my life would probably spiral out of all proportion; I’m a very strong character under a rather inscrutable surface and I eventually manage to infuriate even the most accommodating of souls, so I have to work hard at keeping myself in check. Astrology gives me the perspective to manage that.
Austin Coppock: a) For the most part. People are usually very respectful, even if they have no idea what an astrologer does. The root of the problem is the dissonance between the way I approach the world and the way most people do. The omnipresent awareness of that difference is harder to bear than any particular statements people make. But once you accept that, it’s actually quite liberating.
I wish more astrologers could accept that there is a fundamental disjunction between astrology and most other models of the world. It’s not reconcilable with the structure of materialist physics, and that’s ok. But I don’t think a lot of astrologers believe that. They’re waiting, breath baited, for the Ivory Tower/Great White Dildo to tell them what they’re doing is ok. And it ain’t gonna happen. I don’t look down on people for trying to build bridges, but it’s vitally important to realize that astrology stands on its own, and has for thousands of years. It doesn’t need external validation.
b) I did during my Saturn return. Saturn, being in a Mercury ruled sign for me (Virgo), has always challenged me by presenting a dry, lifeless and ultimately nihilistic rationality that I’ve had to learn how to overcome. Saturn presents the coarse and opaque as a veil to the tremendously subtle. As many have noted, its an easy planet to get wrong.
During my Saturn Return, I obsessed about dropping astrology to become a lawyer. I already had a BA or two, and so law school would have only been two years. In addition, the legal mindset was not terribly different from the astrological one. You memorize a jillion rules and then make an argument for how they intersect in one particular circumstance. It seemed like an easy out for a clever devil like myself.
But I was just dreaming of someone else’s life, one without the particular challenges I had been issued. When I did any soul-searching, I found that I had a legitimate calling in astrology and that the lawyer-fantasy sprung directly from my fear of being misunderstood and unloved. It would have been a cowardly thing to drop astrology. So I didn’t. But I did complain a lot.
Dawn Bodrogi: a) Yes and no. There are some members of my extended family who still don’t know I do this for a living. And it angers me when people look at me pityingly, with that ‘Gee, I used to think you were so intelligent’ look. I am comforted by the fact that, of all the people I have met in my life (and I have been privileged to know some great thinkers and artists, world figures), I have found the most impressive minds in the astrological field. I have come to the conclusion, over the years, that the door to a life of archetypal significance and metaphysical pursuit is not open to everyone. In order to succeed as an astrologer, you need both a rational mind and an artist’s instinct for seeing the greater in the lesser. As a whole, I’m not enamored of hierarchies, but I do feel that we evolve away from materialistic determinism towards more universal principles. The quantum world is very close to astrological thought, but no one seems to put the two together. If the physicists can’t convince people to think about life differently, what chance does astrology have? I say let them evolve at their own pace–they will reach us eventually. I wish I could feel the same about Republicans.
b) No. Never. Not once. It has saved me too many times. I have had to step away from it occasionally, to breathe less refined air, but never in anger.
Anthony Picco: a) With my Uranus opposition my Venus I delight in the reactions I get.
b) At astrology? No. At astrologers, yes. I find a fair number of astrologers either over-techno-dweeb or worse, sloppy scientists, retro-fitting explanations. I believe in a gentle touch with astrology, and many astrologers seem too caught up in the details of astrology. To me astrology is a tool, not an end point or a goal…
Kingsley: a) It doesn’t worry me in the slightest what other people think of my involvement with astrology. However, because I live in a small city and I work as a counselor my government referral sources are best left not informed about my other line of work – in astrology.
b) I have no regrets what so ever being involved in astrology.
Julie Demboski: a) Yes, though I should note that I don’t feel the need to tell people what I do in the first five minutes of knowing them–I find that way of interaction, where we whip out our labels and credentials immediately as a way of identifying ourselves and jockeying for social position, to be prohibitive in terms of allowing us to really see someone. In fact, in social situations I find that about half the time I never end up sharing what I do–because others are talking about themselves, and I think, “Why interrupt?,” as what astrologer isn’t interested in hearing how someone sees him or herself? I feel at home in my own skin now, though, so I take all reactions, positive and negative, in stride–but I wasn’t always so comfortable.
b) No! Being acquainted with astrology has made my life infinitely better. I use it for guidance, not to make decisions for me, but to assist my own decision making–as one uses a map to go from point A to B–you’re free–the map doesn’t tell you where to go, but it sure can make the trip smoother.
b) Not at all. I can’t even say I wished I’d started studying sooner, because I was 12 when I took on my first serious read, Llewellyn George’s A to Z Horoscope Maker and Delineator.
Rodney Smith: a) Mostly. I am ready for the scientoid and the skeptic; I can’t do much about the pathologically religious. The one that annoys me most is the unstated reaction that implies “I thought you were smarter than that”, because, without the other saying it, there is no place for discussion. One has to deal with a bad first-impression by making a better impression over time, but that is all uphill, and rarely worth the exercise.
b) Not yet!! ::grin::
Evelyn Roberts: a) This has never been an issue for me.
Gavin Carruthers: a) Made peace with? Most people are either thrilled or intrigued when they find out I’m an astrologer! And most of them want to know about themselves, of course! I really can’t remember the last time I had a negative reaction. Maybe some narrow-minded Christians a few years ago!
b) Never. Not for a second. No more than I would be bitter to have learned math, another useful tool for understanding our world. If anything I wish more people were aware of the kind of astrology that I use, and the power it has to reveal profound and useful truth.
April Elliott Kent: a) Oh yes, definitely. I have a good sense now of when to answer the question “So what do you do?” honestly, and when to give some version of the truth, such as “I’m a writer” or “I’m a website designer.” Sometimes I especially enjoy dropping the A-bomb, especially in groups of scientists or hardcore Christians. It’s kind of amusing, at this point in my life, to watch the respect quickly drain from their eyes. But believe me, I was not always so sanguine, and I really struggled with this when I first became an astrologer. At the time I left my job to become an astrologer, I was also running a housecleaning business with a fellow astrologer, and I told everyone at work that’s why I was leaving my job: to run a housecleaning business. Yes, I preferred to confess to cleaning toilets for a living rather than confess to being an astrologer!
b. I don’t think I get bitter, but I do get tired of it sometimes. I can’t honestly say I wish I’d never heard of it, but it hasn’t been an easy path for me. There were many ways I could have spent my life that would have brought me more money and more pleasure, actually, and yet I keep coming back to astrology, my beloved hairshirt.
Basil Fearrington: a) Well, I’ve always been a musician and a jazz musician on top of that. When you add astrologer to that list, it gets real strange. People don’t know what astrology really is so I don’t announce that I am an astrologer. If they really knew, I would be proud to announce it but I won’t associate myself with the BS that people think of when the word astrology comes up.
b) No way!
Eileen Nauman (© Eileen Nauman 2009): a) I was never at war with what people thought of what I did for a living. Water off a duck’s back. I don’t have to defend what I do to anyone. Nor do I care what other people think of me. What I think of myself does matter.
Beth Turnage: a) Yes, a couple years ago I admitted to the people I work with that I write the astrology column of a sister newspaper. I took some ribbing. Then people started reading it and enjoyed it and they’ve been supportive ever since.
As for my family, the harshest reaction I had was from my very Roman Catholic sister who told my children that I was going to hell for practicing astrology. When my children told me I laughed, which allayed their fears. Since then my sister has softened her position though she still doesn’t want me to talk about “that stuff” around her.
In the whole area of alienation in pursuing astrology, that is a Uranian process, don’t you think? Learning to navigate your personal needs to learn and explore and individuate takes you to places where other people don’t follow. It’s following the spiritual path to discover your true identity. You can’t take people with you on that journey. Once however you find your true self you will find you are able to take your own place in society without worrying about where people expect you to be.
b) Of course not. To do so would deny a part of myself.
Nick Dagan Best: a) Oh, yeah. I’m proud of doing the kind of astrology I do, and am not threatened by anyone else’s opinion of it.
b) Nope. I was a bit bitter at one point that I found it at such a late age (26). My youth would have been much easier if someone had clued me in about it earlier.
Donna Cunningham: a) I’m very careful who I tell. I don’t feel I have to tell everyone because they’re such idiots. I might tell them I’m a writer or a consultant. If I tell people I’m an astrologer, they want me to perform.
b) I had no choice but to become an astrologer. I worked as a hospital administrator but I was always yearning to get back to astrology. It was hard financially, so I studied marketing. It doesn’t have to be hard. Become an educator. The better educated your clients become, the more they will be able to get from it. Get comfortable promoting it and get comfortable educating them. Then there will be a greater number of people who know how to use it.
Claire-France Perez: Bitter? Yes, very. But astrology is in my bones so there is no other solution. The best way to handle burn-out is to find inspiring teachers.