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Objective Versus Subjective Reality in Astrology

Objective Versus Subjective Reality in AstrologyThis episode features a discussion between Ben Dykes and I on the topic of how the subjective nature of human experience sometimes creates problems when trying to view people’s lives objectively through the lens of astrology.

The crux of the issue is that it is sometimes difficult for people to evaluate statements that are made about the nature of their lives by astrologers because humans don’t usually view their lives with the same level of objectivity that the birth chart provides.

This becomes the starting point for an 80 minute discussion about this issue as well as some related topics.

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 Episode Notes

  • You often can’t ask a person how a certain topic or range of topics manifests in their life because they cannot view those areas of their life objectively
  • They can’t see how those things are unique from what happens to other people.
  • You can’t tell a person about what the main topics of their life will revolve around for the same reason.
  • People tend to focus on what they think their life is about, what they would like their life to be about, or what they tell themselves their life is about, rather than what it really is.
  • Sometimes people will also misinterpret what you say.
  • These are barriers to astrological research and consultations.
  • The astrology is trying to talk about what the person’s life is actually about, but often the person can’t see themselves objectively.
  • Most people also have a hard time seeing the significance of important turning points in their life.
  • Zoller says that if the client says “no” to a delineation that they are lying.
  • Underlying issue: astrology is more objective than people are used to.
  • The idea of the subjective narrative that is always being revised, vs. the “objective” story of the chart and predictive techniques.
  • Sometimes people block their recognition of true statements because it doesn’t fit with their narrative about what their lives are about.
  • Modern notion of the chart as your mind means that the client expects statements that are always true.
  • Lots as a way of describing external events and circumstances not directly in the native’s control: a confirmation of the external world.


A full transcript of this episode is available: Episode 19 transcript

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  • And, more often than not, the person reading cannot understand the reality of the person they are reading for because they filter it through their own reality. For instance, I’m a Libra. If I get a reading from an Aries, they advise me to behave the way that they would behave, like an Aries, in response to a situation or a set of circumstances. I’m a Libra, not an Aries. It is the responsibility of the reader, I think, to conform to the mindset of the readee, rather than the other way around. That hardly ever happens.

    • Yeah, that is true too. The astrologer will also bring some of their own biases or perspectives into the consultation.

    • I do think that the astrologer carries his own biases and perspective into the conversation. However, I am not convinced that the astrologer should “conform” to the mindset of the readee. Instead, what is more important is to understand the other person’s perspective, and then to communicate to them in a way that makes it easier for the readee to see what the astrologer is trying to get them to see (i.e. what the chart is saying objectively).

  • Hi Chris, in this podcast, you mentioned the more limited definitions assigned to the Hellenistic houses, as opposed to the ‘everything is everything’ approach of the ‘alphabet’ system. That would change with derivative houses, which bring in multiple meanings (although still mainly applying to external rather than internal themes). Were those in use then? or did they come in later, with horary? Thanks. ps enjoying these very much!

    • Yeah, they definitely had a system for using derivative houses in the Hellenistic tradition, although it seems to be a little bit more restrictive than some of the later approaches to using that concept. Valens has a brief chapter on it in the 2nd century, and he seems to be excerpting that material from an early work on the houses attributed to Asclepius.

      That definitely can bring in some additional meanings or significations for each of the houses, although it is still not quite the same as using the 12 letter alphabet and importing the significations of the signs of the zodiac and their planetary rulers into the house significations. With derivative houses you can get a few additional significations, which are largely connected to people (e.g. the spouse of your sibling), but with the 12 letter alphabet it kind of opens up the door to a whole host of sea significations. I’m still trying to determine how I feel about that, which is part of what I discussed a couple of episodes ago in the episode about the significations of the houses.

  • Thanks both of you for the pioneering work you are doing in Traditional Astrology. I can see that we bring on events to ourselves based on habits and patterns we repeat because changing them is too much “work” and in that case it can be our fault. I can also see that the scope of someones life can be objectively described thru the natal chart and events will occur outside that persons control. So lets have it both ways and be happy. Again, thanks for the info.

  • It takes most people a long time to actualize their chart. “Character is destiny” means that the choices one makes over a lifetime will reveal their fate not the mere patterns in their nativity. We know that people repress and bury parts of them selves – as well as the memory traumatic events in their lives – that are only revealed in mid life; if ever. We meet a client where they are, not where we are. A good consultation will always require the ability to asses how one is living their chart before trying to communicate complex archetypal ideas to them. And most clients will not have the symbolic or archetypal vocabulary to understand or communicate these things. Astrology has always been, and will always be both science and art. The art is connecting the client to how these symbols are being expressed in their life now at the current level of their consciousness. Without the ability to do that all an astrologer can offer is data.

    • Yes, Rhetorius is our primary source for delineations of the rulers of the places when they are in different places. The majority of the lecture focuses on going through chart examples that I’ve found which demonstrate how certain placements work out in practice.

  • Have been catching up on these podcasts, and in this one was intrigued by the point that the client will sometimes deny what the astrologer says. That the client can’t always see his life objectively is true enough, but I can think of another reason for him not being able to see the event or development that the astrologer sees. If he’s already made sense of the predicted event, development or characteristic in his own terms he might well be unable to see it in any other. I once asked a correspondent, with reference to a particular transit of Saturn hard-angle natal Mercury, if he had gone through a period of doubt and uncertainty, which perhaps led to new insights. He said nope, didn’t remember anything like that, but later in the same letter, talking about a transit of Jupiter semisquare natal Saturn (which just happened to coincide in time with that Saturn-Mercury transit), he attributed to it almost exactly what he’d just denied with reference to Saturn Mercury. I don’t think he was being disengenuous. Because he had already explained it to himself it wasn’t “out there” waiting for an explanation, and that coupled with the difference in wording meant that he wasn’t even able to see that we were talking about the same thing. What we already “know” is often the biggest impediment to insight, and in the history of science is often what specifically has to be broken through when a “breakthrough” occurs. I think some version of this already having accounted for something is often the reason a client doesn’t “see” in his life what the astrologer has just described.

  • I came to this podcast after Diana Rose Harper mentioned it in the podcast where you interviewed her, Chris, and now see the connections to her meaningful messages (especially towards the last part of the podcast.)

    Excellent podcast and worth the time invested in listening to it (as usual.)

    Lots to integrate, consider and ponder. I appreciate the credit given to Robert Zoller (whose Arabic Parts book I’m going to browse again later today) and the sharing of his perspectives (I recently enjoyed the other podcast you both did on him and his work.)

    I’m looking forward to reading one of Ben Dykes’s books which will be delivered to me today.