The Astrology Podcast
Transcript of Episode 136, titled:
With Chris Brennan and guest Adam Elenbaas
Episode originally released on December 11, 2017
Note: This is a transcript of a spoken word podcast. If possible, we encourage you to listen to the audio or video version, since they include inflections that may not translate well when written out. Our transcripts are created by human transcribers, and the text may contain errors and differences from the spoken audio. If you find any errors then please send them to us by email: firstname.lastname@example.org
Transcribed by Andrea Johnson
Transcription released October 11th, 2023
Copyright © 2023 TheAstrologyPodcast.com
CHRIS BRENNAN: Hi, my name is Chris Brennan, and you’re listening to The Astrology Podcast. This episode was recorded on Friday, November 24, 2017, starting at 12:26 PM in Denver, Colorado, and this is the 136th episode of the show. For more information about how to subscribe to the podcast and help support the production of future episodes by becoming a patron, please visit theastrologypodcast.com/subscribe. In this episode I’m gonna be talking with Adam Elenbaas, and we’re gonna be answering some questions that were submitted by listeners of the podcast over the past few months. Hi, Adam, welcome back to the show again.
ADAM ELENBAAS: Thanks, Chris. I’m glad to be here.
CB: Yeah, so this is a follow-up from our last conversation, which we actually recorded a week ago. That was actually the second time in a row that I attempted to tackle some of the Q&A questions, but the first set of questions were so interesting that we got stuck on them. So I thought we’d give this another show shot to see if we can get through the rest of the questions today.
AE: Yeah, sounds good.
CB: All right, yeah, so let’s jump right into them then. So the first set of questions—it’s a few about counseling and consultations and how that’s set up by a patron named Cindy Letourneau. I’m gonna read all of her questions first—she has about five of them and they’re all interrelated—and then we can just into the broader discussion of some of the themes that she asked about. So she says, “I would love to hear specific examples of astrology counseling or interpretations that positively contributed to a client’s understanding of themselves and the world around them. Also, how is a counseling session structured? What are the challenges and how do you prepare? Have you ever done readings that just [don’t] hit the mark for the client?” And finally, “What are instances in your career that validate your decision to become a professional astrologer, despite the lack of understanding and acceptance in the larger public arena?” All right, so you actually just got done doing two consulting sessions in a row, right before this recording, right, Adam?
AE: That’s right, yeah. I had a few back-to-back, yeah.
CB: All right, so that might be a good starting point. I mean, one of the questions that sometimes comes up—and it’s always interesting to see how different astrologers answer them, depending on how their consulting practice is structured—but how many consultations would you say on average you usually do in a normal day? Like a normal work week when you’re taking consultations. What’s the maximum that you’ll do in a day?
AE: Yeah, it sort of depends on what time of year it is. Like right now I’m doing my annual fundraiser for my daily horoscopes, so I do a lot of readings at this time of year for that. And then it’s almost 2018, so let’s do a year ahead reading. Or maybe eclipse season, there’s some really busy patches. But I would say I can’t do more than four in a day, and I don’t like to do four anyway. My ideal would be two or three sessions per day. I would say I average two or three per day on the weekdays, and then maybe I’ll have private students and then I teach classes and things like that. So, all said and done, I’m usually spending a good deal with the daily horoscope and everything else. It’s a full day for sure during the work week, but I’d say maybe two or three hours every day reading charts for people.
CB: Okay. And that’s pretty intense, and that’s just the consultation itself. For most of these, are they structured so that you don’t necessarily have to do a lot of prep? Or is there any prep time involved for you?
AE: It depends. It depends on what type of reading. I have a pretty good system worked out so that maybe I need 15 minutes or so with a chart to just gather for an hour reading. If it’s a very specific question, like a horary, or if someone wants insight around a particular topic, I might do more research ahead of time. But far less than I used to because I think you just become more fluent and you can work with charts—not on the fly, and certainly not willy-nilly—but I think you do get kind of quicker at it.
CB: Yeah. I mean, that seems like a common theme with newer astrologers. If you are newer, and you’re still getting used to doing consultations, you’re gonna do a ton of prep work in order to feel prepared and confident going into the consultation, and sometimes you’ll have a tendency to overdo it to some extent. And then eventually as you get more and more comfortable, it seems like astrologers often whittle down that prep time a little bit, although that’s one of the challenges for me. One of the things you mentioned is there’s different types of consultation—since you practice different branches of astrology—and so that has some bearing on the amount of preparation, as well as the amount of work that goes into the actual consultation itself. So most people, when they ask about a consultation, we’re talking about natal astrology and reading a person’s birth chart, which is usually like an hour or maybe like a 75-minute consultation on average for most astrologers. But then you’re also offering other things, like horary and other services, right?
AE: Yeah, if it’s a love and relationship reading, or if it’s a topical question about money and the year ahead, or if it’s a horary question. I’m just trying to think—I had one come in recently that was asking about whether or not she would be included in a will. She had just had a family member pass and wanted to know if she’d be included in the will or not. That is 10 minutes max of a recording that I’ll make for somebody and an hour-plus of research. So it just totally depends. For those who don’t know who are listening, horary is a chart that’s cast for the moment of a specific question. So it’s like a birth chart that you’re reading for almost like the ‘birth’ of a question. For me, anyway, that’s a much more research-intensive practice, but natal astrology, for me, is not much prep anymore.
CB: Okay. Yeah, so I guess in answering this patron’s question part of the answer is that it varies depending on what type of astrology you’re using, or at least what branch of astrology you’re applying to it. ‘Cause there’s also electional astrology consultations. There’s rectification consultations. There’s also, like you said, relationship analysis, which sometimes can involve two people; like if a couple comes to see you and they both want to talk about their relationship or something like that. But let’s just say for the purpose of this question that we’re just talking about or restricting it to natal astrology or a standard natal astrology consultation. I want to say that that’s probably the majority of what most astrologers are doing, more or less, right?
AE: Yeah, I think that’s probably safe to say. If you’re looking at it in terms of how it’s structured, you have some astrologers talk the whole time; with some, it’s a dialogue. I think for the purpose of counseling astrology—since that is part of Cindy’s question—at least for me, it’s more of a dialogue.
CB: Yeah, I mean, that’s probably pretty standard at this point. And that’s probably a good preface or statement to put out there right from the start that modern astrological consultations for the most part—with some exceptions, depending on the practitioner—are typically dialogues between the client and the astrologer. And usually the ones where the client doesn’t want to say anything or doesn’t want to give any feedback—if you have an instance where they’re either close-lipped or they’re testing the astrologer—those are exceptions to what the normal standard is, where the astrologer typically will talk about the chart and make statements, but also get feedback to see and confirm (or deny) if some of those statements are correct and move through the consultation together.
AE: Yeah, that’s right. In fact, just today one of my clients was very quiet throughout the whole reading. Eventually, like later in the reading, she sort of opened up a little bit. I think it was her first reading ever. So I think for some people, they sit down for a reading, it’s like breaking the ice. It’s like every session is a little bit different, but it’s definitely not the norm for me to sit there and talk for an hour. It’s definitely a dialogue.
CB: Right. It’s like the thing people don’t understand is that that’s not gonna be as effective or useful either from the astrologer’s perspective, but also especially from the clients perspective. You’re not gonna get as much out of a consultation if you don’t say anything or if your goal is to test the astrologer just to see what they’ll say, or have them throw out a bunch of statements about your chart without any feedback. And I understand where that impulse comes from in some instances, and I was probably that way in one or two of my early consultations with astrologers early in my career, just getting a sense of what consultations were like, where I didn’t provide as much feedback.
But the thing about astrology, part of the reason why it’s more effective and you’re gonna get more out of a consultation is that the astrological chart and the placements in the chart—a lot of those placements can work out in a variety of different ways based on the symbolism. And sometimes part of what the astrologer’s trying to do, especially early in the consultation, is get a sense for how those placements have worked out for you, so that they can figure out just a general sense of where you’re at in terms of manifesting those placements in your chart; and if they need to, adjust something if there’s something about their understanding of the chart that needs to be adjusted based on a factor that they’re not putting enough emphasis on or not taking into account enough that they might realize or start paying more attention to if they got some feedback and realize that there’s something going on in the person’s life that is throwing things off or is modifying things a little bit.
AE: Right. We’ve talked about this before on your show, but the image of the fortune-teller has a really complicated psychological presence in the field of astrology and in people’s psyches when they approach an astrologer. Further, there’s an aversion to fortune-telling, the image of a fortune-teller, of somebody’s that’s gonna predict your future, from the perspective of this sort of modern emphasis on freedom, freedom of choice, co-creating your own reality with the divine, or manifesting your reality through positive thinking or anything like that. It’s almost offensive to hear somebody sort of predict the future. But, on the other hand, there’s also an unfairness that’s done to the image of the fortune-teller because classically astrology has its roots in divination practice, astral omen practices, and there’s a long tradition of astrology being predictive in one way or another.
And so, I think one thing that we also don’t understand is that when it comes to a dialogue, we’re not suggesting that it’s a dialogue at the cost of an astrologer doing predictive astrology because often some of the most accurate and beautiful and specific prognostications come through what’s discovered by looking and talking through the symbols and exploring them together. Oftentimes that’s where the ‘diviner’, the reader is able to make an accurate read of what’s going on in the chart. So we discover the prognostication together in dialogue. It’s not just that, in other words, we dialogue because astrologers nowadays are doing therapy and counseling and not predictive astrology. But I think that misunderstanding comes from there being just these really dichotomized or polarizing images of fortune-telling and the fortune-teller in the midst of the astrological consultation.
CB: Right. Yeah, I think that’s definitely a huge psychological or societal element that’s there. I mean, the other thing about the dialogue and the importance of the dialogue that also needs to be stated—‘cause I can imagine some people jumping to this conclusion. The dialogue—it’s not about the astrologer cold-reading the client or something like that. I think that’s one of the reasons why some people would want to test the astrologer and see how much they might say, without giving any feedback, in order to test their accuracy or something like that. But one of the central issues is that you can cast an astrological chart for just about anything, not just the birth of a person, but for electional astrology, the start of an important venture or undertaking, like a chart for a marriage. Or you can have a horary chart, which is the chart of a question, or you could have the chart of a country or what have you—and in each of those you’re using essentially the same symbols and oftentimes very similar techniques in order to attempt to understand the quality in the future of whatever was started at that time. But as a result of that you need to understand the context in which a chart is operating in order to be able to give the most useful and effective statements about it.
And part of what talking to and having a dialogue with the client is about is understanding what is your station in life and what are your actual concerns at this point, so that you don’t start focusing on something that’s not of concern or that won’t be a concern until 30 years from now or something like that. In addition, the chart for that moment could have also been the chart for like a dog or something like that. And that’s gonna have a much different context in interpreting let’s say the chart of your pet dog versus the chart of this person who was born at this specific point in time and in this family, and this is their current career path, and they are currently married with this partner. And just understanding the context of the chart and what sort of things are the focus in that person’s life and what you should focus on is really important in terms of actually being able to zero in on and use the correct techniques that are gonna be the most helpful to them in terms of actually getting something from the consultation, instead of just shooting wildly with a variety of different techniques and focusing on things that may or may not be relevant to them at that point in time.
AE: Yeah, that’s really well-said. I’m thinking too about what Cindy asked and looking for some examples of astrology counseling or interpretations that help a person or how counseling is structured. I don’t think that it’s always the same thing between just a natal consult. As Chris said, there’s a lot of different kinds of consults. But a counseling session—the way that I define that in my practice is someone who’s had a birth chart reading, we’ve gotten to know their chart together, maybe we’ve even done a transit or forecasting session or follow-up at some later point. And suddenly they say, “You know what, these conversations, the exploration of my chart, this is something that’s helping me personally (or psychologically, or during a difficult time in my life). It’s something that’s helping me do the work of self-discovery (or progressing spiritually or whatever). And so, I’d like to meet with that intention in mind, to keep talking and moving into the birth chart.”
That may happen for an astrologer who has no background in psychological counseling or therapy or anything like that; I still think that’s within the realm of what astrologers do quite frequently. And then there’s psychological astrologers who are meeting because they’re structuring a deliberate therapeutic style of astrology. So we’d probably have to ask Cindy what she meant even by her questions a little bit more. But the main answer I think we’re agreeing on, Chris, is that there’s so many different contexts for astrological meetings, and the counseling can take a lot of different forms, depending on what type is happening. And even astrological counseling may even occur for astrologers who are not explicitly offering any kind of psychological or therapeutic sessions.
CB: Right. Yeah, that’s a good point. There’s no way for any astrologer to cover everything that’s in the birth chart all in one 75-minute session. So sometimes people do want to get follow-up sessions in order to look at other parts of the birth chart or other things that you just didn’t have time to explore. But that’s one of the reasons why you can do that and attempt to test the astrologer if you want, if that will somehow either prove or disprove something to yourself if you’re trying to see what astrology is capable of. However, it’s gonna be more effective if you do have specific things that you’re concerned about or want to look into, if you tell the astrologer ahead of time ‘relationships are the main thing on my mind right now’ or ‘my career is my main focus and I’m curious what’s going on in that area of my life’.
Even something general like that, so that there’s some framework and the astrologer knows what techniques to start applying ahead of time in order to look at your concerns, is gonna be far more effective in actually getting to and dealing with those concerns than otherwise. And even at that, sometimes that can still necessitate—I mean, I’m not usually one that does a lot of follow-up consultations. There’s different astrologers I think that schedule or have different levels of openness to that, depending on what their focus is. But it’s not uncommon that if a consultation goes well that the astrologer and client will meet up again at some point in the future for additional consultations.
AE: Yeah, I think most of my clients are probably new or first-time birth chart clients. But I guess as my career has developed, I guess there are a fair amount of clients who come back for maybe a reading a year on their birthday. Or I do have some clients that come a few times a year, everyone’s different. But I’d say the bulk of my practice is usually a first session, in which case a session can still be contributing to or accomplishing something like counseling. For example, I’ll just tell a story from a recent reading and sort of mask it anonymously here. But reading the birth chart signatures, without knowing anything about this client, I was able to talk about a pattern of perhaps being afraid, afraid of making decisions, or afraid of pursuing career paths in particular that they were really passionate about and maybe settling for a version of professional success that didn’t really make them happy. It’s a pretty human thing, right, but this chart was very clear about it.
And then we went back in time and we looked at all of the previous times that Saturn had made a hard aspect to the ruler of the career house, which is what we were looking at, because this client has another one coming up with Saturn, once Saturn enters Capricorn. And we looked back on all the previous hard aspects for like the last full Saturn cycle—this person’s older, so we were able to go through a full Saturn cycle—and during every single one they left a job that they knew they didn’t want to do anymore, even though they were very successful at the job. They left the job, took that risk to go pursue this other thing that they’ve always been interested in, and then very shortly, out of fear, returned to the job. And it was just incredible that we were able to unearth that pattern just through tracking Saturn’s relationship with the squares and oppositions and conjunction to the career house ruler.
So in that instance, going through all of this, I said, “Well, Saturn’s coming up again.” And she said, “I recently left my job and just went back to it.” This is like Saturn’s bearing down on the career house ruler again. “I just got back to it.” That opened a really good conversation. I mean, I didn’t have any ultimate answers to her struggle, but discovering the pattern was crucial. That created a conversation; it opened her up in a way. So you’re doing a kind of predictive astrology, right? I mean, I had to go out on a limb to say, “I see this pattern,” but I asked, “Well, how does that resonate? Does that fit? There are other possible ways in which the pattern that I’m looking at could express itself in your chart, but that’s the first one that I’m inclined toward. How does that sit with you?” “Oh, yeah, that’s the story of my life.” “Okay, you’ve got this transit coming. Let’s look at previous transits. What happened under them? Oh, wow, there’s the pattern. There it is.” And then coming back up to the present, “What do we do now, now that you’re in the present?”
So that achieved some kind of counseling. I think that contributed to—as Cindy was asking—contributed to the client’s understanding of themselves, but also the world around them. Because here’s one of the funny things—we made this point and kind of came to this together in the session. She was worried and always very calculated about her decisions of ‘if I follow my dream’, calculating the chances, the odds, the likelihood of ever being as successful in something that she was really passionate about. Very rational in that regard and sort of like, “What chances do I have?” was part of the language that she used. Then when we came around to this, one of the things that came out was, “Isn’t it interesting how the thing that’s most calculated, the most predictable is perhaps not the odds of whether or not you’ll ever be successful doing this or that, but the level to which your life has been patterned after the fear of the future and trying to control things through rational calculation? That’s actually what’s really predictable in this situation.”
That changed her worldview. I mean, it was very clear in the reading that actually impacted her worldview to think, “What’s actually predictable is my psychology of fear in some way, more predictable than what would happen if I followed my dream, which I don’t actually know.” So little moments like that—that’s like a really good gem of a story to share—but I think it’s moments like that in a reading where you almost accidentally achieve some kind of counseling. That’s usually how it works for me. I don’t really advertise, “Come and sit down for a counseling session.” People will have topics to talk about and the magic of the session allows or perhaps doesn’t allow in some cases the topic to be addressed not only predictively, but allow some kind of psychological or even philosophical shift to occur.
CB: Right. Yeah, definitely. I think a lot of astrologers fit that as well in terms of counseling happening naturally or as a side effect and not necessarily their primary intent or training or purpose necessarily, even though certainly that is for some people. But you raising that—those are some really good points. Something that I always say is that repetition is the key to prediction. And that a lot of prediction in astrology, or one of the strongest ways that prediction can be effective in astrology is by identifying the arc of the past and then projecting that into the future. And there’s many different ways that astrologers do that, or there’s different techniques that astrologers use in order to do that.
So one of them, like you were talking about, is the Saturn cycle where you have a 30-year cycle and Saturn hits hard aspects. Or like a 28-year cycle—and Saturn hits hard aspects every seven years, and oftentimes there’ll be a challenge to whatever the theme of that cycle is about. And once you identify what the past themes had been that came up at critical points in the person’s history, you can kind of then project those out into the future in order to understand what’s coming up around the bend. So within that context understanding the client’s past and identifying recurring themes, and then using those to anticipate the future, that becomes, to me at least, a large part of what astrology is about, what astrological prediction is about, and even what astrological counseling, if you want to call it, is about.
And going back to the original question, I mean, for me, unfortunately I usually have to have about an hour of prep time. Even though I’ve been doing it for a while, I still need about an hour of prep time before each consultation because most of my consultations are focused on zodiacal releasing. And in the technique it generates a list of periods for the first hundred years basically of the native’s life, and it outlines the chapters and the paragraphs in a person’s life that are activating different parts of the chart. And what I usually do is I go through and write down some notes next to those periods to identify which periods should be what I call ‘peak periods’ or active periods in a person’s career, which periods should be more subjectively-positive periods, which ones should be subjectively difficult, and then which ones should be major transition points or shake-ups in terms of the person’s life trajectory. And I usually fill those out starting when the person is a teenager—‘cause that’s usually about the point when people can start remembering specific events in their life—and then I fill them out all the way up until the present and then project that out a few decades into the future.
And then once we get to the consultation, a large part of the consultation for me when I’m doing a zodiacal releasing consultation for natal astrology is initially going through those periods with the person and asking them about especially the ones that I wrote out and getting a sense for how that actually played out in their life. And, on the one hand, that’s useful for me because then that’s part of identifying and coming to understand the arc of the past for that person or what their trajectory is leading up to the point that they’re at now when I’ve met them that day, and then I can sort of project that out into the future. But also, what I think the client gets out of that is that they can see that I’ve written out those notes ahead of time.
And even though it’s kind of annoying and it takes a lot of time for me, they can see that I wrote that out ahead of time, and I would have said the same things prior to me talking to them as I would have said once we actually started talking in the consultation, at least in terms of identifying those specific dates in their life as being important turning points, for better or worse. And I think by going through that with them, one of the things that a client gains by going through their past with an astrologer in seeing how the astrological movements and alignments really coincide or correlate those important turning events in a person’s past is they get a greater sense of meaning and purpose to their life and to their life story at that point. And sometimes the astrologer can help a person to understand what their life story is up until this point in a way that’s a little bit more objective or a little bit more concrete than they might usually think about it.
AE: Right. Yeah, I think that actually goes back to what we were saying about how the dialogue is so important because it’s a process of discovering that together. The memory work—a lot of the time that’s where the discovery happens. I think that leads to what are the challenges and how do you prepare. We’ve hit preparation a bit, but for me the real challenge is when people have poor memory—which it happens, it’s fine, or there’s that really hesitance to share or talk—because the way that I work—it’s the same thing with what you just said, Chris, about just going forward in order to go backward. In fact, I think if there’s one movie that I could recommend that people see—and we may have mentioned this when we talked about prediction in the ‘prediction’ show we did last year—it’s Arrival. And the script that the aliens use in that film—if you haven’t seen it, I won’t give it away—but that’s a great movie for understanding the importance of the astrologer and the client together sort of excavating the past with this really amazing specificity.
An astrologer can be like, “This time in the past, I know that this theme, this topic was probably pronounced in a certain kind of way, but I need you to tell me what was going on, so that I can possibly be a little bit more specific about what’s to come.” And when a client is able to remember very vividly or lucidly what was happening, to me, it does two things. One, it helps reveal the pattern, which we’re both saying here, and then that allows you to be more specific or helpful in predicting or preparing, or both, for the future. But it’s also about the process of the person talking and opening up. There’s a heart-opening or a mind-opening to astrology. It happens for me as the astrologer as much as it’s happening for the client. I would almost describe it as a kind of tingling or a little bit of an electric feeling that comes into the reading.
I remember this reading I was talking about, I said, “Hey, what was happening here?” This was the first part of the last Saturn thing. She said, “I left a job thinking it was the right thing, and I came back to it.” She was amazed, like totally amazed. And I was too. I was like, “God, astrology is so cool.” I think it’s that amazement and that wonder that are also just dynamic because there’s an experience of going backward to go forward. And in this weird way, the cosmos—even though you’re running through it in an apparent linear way—it starts to feel much more multidimensional, and I just think the heart and mind open to astrology. And so, a very important part of prediction is that prediction isn’t just about going forward, the two work together. And I’d say my biggest challenge is if someone either does not want to talk—they want me to talk the whole time—or they don’t have a great recall. Those are easily my top challenges.
CB: Right. Yeah, a person doesn’t remember. That’s definitely answering her question of challenges, if a client doesn’t remember events in the past very well. One of the other issues that you run into is a client not being used to thinking about their life in a certain way, so when somebody objectively makes a statement that, “In the area of your life, this is an issue,” or something like that, and the client just doesn’t register that as being correct, even though it objectively is because they’re not subjectively used to thinking about it that way. Or, alternatively, when you’re talking about events and the recollection of events, another frustrating thing is talking to a client and saying, “This should have been an important event in this area of your life at this time,” and they say, “Nothing really significant happened there,” they say, “No, that’s not true.” But then later it turns out that something important at the time did happen then, but in retrospect they don’t see it as important now because they’re so far removed from it. Let’s say they had a relationship in high school and somebody broke up with them then, and at the time that was really devastating and it was an important turning point in their life. But now, 30 or 40 years later, it’s like that doesn’t have the same emotional impact, or they don’t care about it as much. So when they talk about it now, they don’t recognize that as being significant perhaps, even though at the time, in the context of their life at that point, it was. So that can be a frustrating thing.
AE: Yeah. Oh, gosh, that just reminds me of a story. So recently I had a client—and I’m gonna kind of mask the story a little bit—but I had a client who is in a helping field, right? And the specific thing that this client does is serving women, serving a particular female population struggling with a particular kind of illness. I was looking back at important moments for her career, and I said, “This time should have been pretty significant for your career.” And I said, “You were a little younger, so it’s possible that it was a formative event.” And there was nothing. “No, nothing happened. Nothing happened.” And what I found to do is to just be persistent, be a little bit dogged. At first, I would just be like, “Okay, back to the drawing board. What other transits can I look at?” But now I’m a little bit more dogged about it.
AE: In this case, I said, “Well, tell me where you were living.” “I was living here.” “Okay, well, what grade were you in? Where were you going to school?” or whatever, and just keep asking questions so that the client can start opening up their memory. And that usually helps if you ask something that’s not necessarily targeted at what the client thinks they’re supposed to be looking for, but is more general, and then the landscape of that time of their life will open up. And then suddenly she goes, “Well, I guess my grandmother passed away at that time.” And she said, “I don’t see how that’s related to my career.” And I said, “Well, how did she pass?” And she was like, “Oh, she passed from this.” And I was like, “Well, that’s exactly the population of women with this specific ailment that you serve.”
AE: Even then, even when I pointed out the connection, she was like, “Yeah, I guess that is important.” I wouldn’t say that this client was resistant at all to the reading, but sometimes, for one reason or another, I’m like that’s a huge and obvious connection. And even after I was able to draw out the connection, she still wasn’t totally wowed by it. So when Cindy asks, “Have you ever done readings that just didn’t hit the mark?” sometimes to me they’re hitting the mark, but to the client sometimes it won’t, and it’s just weird.
CB: Yeah. And I think part of it is that thing I mentioned briefly earlier, and it’s this thing of when you say something objectively, like as an objective observer. You know you’ve never met this person. You’re just showing up, doing a consultation for them, and part of that is getting to know their life and stuff. But people have a tendency to normalize the events that happen in their life, in different areas of their life that either work out well or work out poorly in different ways, where they have unique events. They tend to almost generalize that sometimes and assume everybody has the same experience in that area of their life. Of course everybody has, like in your instance, a grandmother who died of some very highly specific ailment that then later does end up affecting your career.
And maybe that’s part of the reason why for astrologers oftentimes—at least for me—one of the struggles is getting the client to understand that that’s actually unique in their specific area of their life, and how that happened is not something that happens to everyone. Or that your relationship with your sibling was the way that everybody experiences siblings. Like if a person has a bad experience with siblings, they just assume everyone has a bad experience with siblings. They don’t have the follow-up consultation that happens a few days later where somebody has the exact opposite placements, and they have a very wonderful and healthy and supportive experience of siblings. And so, that’s their subjective assumption that that’s how everyone else’s life works or something like that. I think for the astrologer it’s both a frustration, but also part of your role is that you’re an objective observer in the person’s life and sometimes you can help them to more objectively look at the way that certain areas of their life went and how that compares to let’s say some sort of average, or how other people might experience that part of their life.
AE: Yeah. And I think what goes along with that is this idea that people aren’t always aware of the connective tissues or the karmic structures, or whatever we want to call them, of their life. So, in this case, I think one of the reasons that this client was sort of resistant was there had been no conscious sense of connecting her choice to go into this field with that passing. In fact, the way that she ended up specializing in the thing that her grandma ended up passing of, in her words, was sort of like chance. It wasn’t something she was like, “My grandmother passed, and now I shall go and serve all the women who—,” it wasn’t like a heroic, conscious choice after her grandmother passed. So I think for that reason she was a little resistant to it because it hadn’t been quite so conscious on her part.
At which part now I’m a little bit more bold and just sort of making a philosophical claim. I’ll say the reasons that we end up doing things, or the connective tissue between events that lead to us doing things, we’re not always aware of, and so astrology isn’t just gonna tell you the way in which everything in your life is consciously connected. And I think that’s new for some people, so maybe we do have to explain that sometimes.
CB: Yeah, definitely. I mean, I think part of the process of the dialogue is understanding what astrology is and what we’re actually doing here and very rapidly getting on the same page with the client over the course of that 75 minutes as part of that process. So what were the other things? I’m trying to run through ‘cause we’re 45 minutes into it.
AE: Doing the same thing.
CB: Yeah, we’re doing the same thing, which is fine. We can keep doing this. So I’m just trying to think about if there’s other points we should continue to expand on this whole process of consulting, which seems like very fertile discussion ground—or if there’s anything we could hit in order to wrap this section up and just move on.
AE: Well, maybe her last question, which would be about instances that validated your decision to become a professional astrologer despite lack of understanding and acceptance. That’s sort of similarly connected to this idea of reading and sometimes missing the mark, or people sort of testing you. For me, anyway, I would say that it’s instances like the story I told with the woman who had the pattern—well, really both stories that I told where both of my clients were able to go back in time in order to understand a natal pattern and more accurately discuss what to expect or how to meet an upcoming transit and so forth.
I think as my career went on and I started seeing more and more of those kinds of experiences happen, I think you’re bit by the bug already to get into doing readings with people, but then I think you fall in love with astrology at that point. I don’t know. I mean, other than that I would say making money doing astrology is validating. It’s not about money. It’s about our love for the craft.
CB: In terms of just being able to do something that you love.
AE: Yeah, right. Like being able to do astrology professionally—that you’re able to do what you love and make money doing it—when that started happening for me it was like, okay, it doesn’t matter what other people think. It doesn’t matter if sometimes I miss the mark for clients. There’s enough validation coming in in the sessions and I’m making income doing this—that was really validating for me. I mean, there’s probably other milestones—or you get something published, or other accomplishments that somehow make you feel like, “Hey, maybe I’m good at this,” or something like that. But I think it starts in the actual readings, the actual experiences; you never forget them. And that’s really why you keep doing it despite whatever Neil deGrasse Tyson might have to say.
CB: Yeah, yeah. I think probably the shared thing that all astrologers have is sitting there in the consultation and talking with the client and then seeing very vividly—‘cause this something I brought up I think maybe the last time we talked, or maybe it was just in the Saturn returns episodes earlier in November—where one of the issues I have is I decided with those 13 charts for us to just retell short versions of those Saturn return stories from the past two-and-a-half-years. And I kind of regretted that a little bit because it’s actually when you’re sitting there talking to a client, and you ask them about different parts of their chart, or you make different statements about how certain placements should work out, then you ask them, “How does that actually work out in your life?” And then describe very vividly what that part of their life is, and you can see it matching the chart so closely, and both matching what you said, but also bringing alive and really fleshing out and putting a lot of additional nuances and details that you never could have fully developed yourself. But by hearing the client talk about it and share their life story, and seeing how that matches the astrology, there’s something incredibly magical and kind of interesting about that. There’s varying degrees in which that happens, but it happens consistently enough in consultations.
I think that’s really one of the most validating things about it, just having the ability to have a job doing something that you love and that you find interesting. I think something that all astrologers share in common is they’re not just passionate about astrology, but they’re genuinely interested in astrology as a phenomenon. And then being able to get an up close and personal demonstration of astrology in action on a daily basis—within the context of a consulting setting where it’s not just the client who’s learning something new—every client an astrologer sees you’re gonna learn something new as an astrologer ‘cause you’re gonna see a unique combination of those placements that will give a unique manifestation, which might fit the broad, overall archetype of what you would expect.
Or it might, broadly speaking, fit other instances you’ve seen of some placement, like Venus in Sagittarius, or what have you, but the specific manifestation itself is gonna be a unique manifestation of that placement, and so you will therefore learn something new about how that placement can manifest in an individual’s life and there’s something magical and validating about that. And I think despite the opposition that astrology receives, and the way that it’s perceived in the public negatively, and the genuine sense of embarrassment that I have surrounding that when smart intellectuals in society that I otherwise would look up to speak disparagingly about this thing that I’m passionate about—it’s those client sessions where you see astrology validated in this very straightforward way repeatedly, I think that’s part of what makes it worthwhile.
AE: Right, yeah. I sometimes tell my students that—this is just my own way of relating to astrology. It’s like astrology, not just the chart that you’re looking at, but the actual living process of astrology inundating your life and your psyche and your very being. It becomes as though the planets or the oracle itself is somehow teaching you and guiding you, or it’s like an animate presence. I’m thinking a lot of Geoffrey Cornelius’ book, The Moment of Astrology. His book was the first one that ever gave words for me to the experience of when you’re sitting in a chart reading and those exceptions pop up; all these magical things are happening that are kind of teaching you how to be an astrologer. And it might just be my own ‘woo woo’ but it’s like the astrology instructs you. Astrology reveals itself somehow in the process of doing it; that’s a part of that catch-22 we were talking about last time as well. Yeah, I completely agree. That’s where the magic is for sure.
CB: Yeah, definitely. You’ll have consultations and sometimes they will teach you certain things that you need to know, or sometimes you’ll have life events and life experiences, and you’ll encounter a transit. Or you’ll see someone in your close, personal life encounter a transit or something in their chart, and it’ll be a very vivid or sometimes stark demonstration of that principle or concept. And then later you’ll have a client with something similar and you’ll know how to deal with that at that time because you’ve seen it before in that very vivid way. And, yeah, I think that is part of the process, but sometimes it comes out uniquely, like you said, where it’s almost like you’re being taught some principle or something by the astrology itself.
AE: Yeah, yeah. Despite my resistance the last time we were talking and being kind of grumpy about it, I do think astrology works like that all the time. I do get driven a little bit crazy by the clichés that come about like every time a client walks in, it’s really just a mirror for your own inner process; like if you’re really listening, every client will tell you exactly what you need to know. I resist that kind of thing—as we were talking about in our last episode—only because I think the focus should be on the client. And some of these things that we’re saying can get turned on their heads to be almost really exaggerated and clichés or something.
CB: They’re like over-applied.
AE: Yeah, yeah, yeah. But it is true—there’s the magic of the way astrology unfolds itself.
CB: Sure. All right, well, I think that’s a good closing point on Cindy’s questions. And that actually is a good transition point into the next one I think, which is actually kind of similar. So there’s another question by a patron named Keith Franks, and he says, “Because astrology, especially ancient/traditional astrology, posits an entirely different worldview on the way our cosmos works, it seems at odds with our current secular-materialist worldview. How do you deal with the cognitive dissonance that arises (if it does at all) in your life because of this? This has been touched upon in previous episodes, I think, and will vary from person to person, but I’m curious as to how you guys handle it on a more personal, day-to-day basis.” So what do you think about that?
AE: Oh, God, yeah, that’s a great question. I actually got really sidetracked this past week on a very similar question in one of my classes, so I feel like I’m prepared to try to answer more concisely.
CB: Okay. Yeah, let’s do the cliff notes version.
AE: Yeah, so I use this analogy of the emergence of yoga philosophy against the backdrop of the Vedic culture in India. The Vedic, like a lot of indigenous cultures, was based on ritual sacrifice that was a part of appeasing the gods, the demigods, ensuring that it would rain or that crops would grow or that good material outcomes would occur for the civilization. And it was also a part of sharing in the turning of the wheel of life whose nature is sacrifice; things are eating each other. So to participate in that consciously was a part of a lot of early indigenous traditions and Vedic culture expresses that same kind of participation in its rituals and so forth.
But what happens is yoga as a form of philosophy—and this is my main philosophy; my wife and I own a yoga studio. What happens—and this is not unique to the yoga philosophy either—is this is also a reaction that occurs to similar cultures of ritual magic and sacrifice all around the world. If the priestly class starts abusing that ritual technology of the sacrifice, the sacrificial priestly culture, if the ritual of the sacrifice is being performed for the sake of gaining something materially out of desire (out of lust or greed or something like) or if these ritual sacrifices and magical technologies are being deployed out of fear (fear of angry forces or malevolent forces or just out of paranoia or fear), either of those extremes is thought to lead to a kind of corruption of the magic.
So yoga philosophy emerges in part through a succession of philosophical commentaries on the Vedas called the Upanishads, and part of the philosophical trajectory is to say, hey, these Vedic rituals are not being done in order to participate consciously in the turning wheel of life, the nature of which is sacrifice, but they’re actually being done now in order to produce favorable results or to avoid things that aren’t liked. And yoga philosophy, like the Stoics in the West, basically arises as a way of saying real spiritual liberation occurs when we take the highs and the lows in stride and we don’t strive for anything, but become sort of like Valens said; we become ‘soldiers of fate’. Or we find equanimity, peace, and a place of centeredness through the material ups and downs rather than trying to manipulate forces in order to get something we like or avoid something we don’t like.
Well, a lot of the world today is the materialist paradigm; it’s basically just magic. It’s just a continuation of the same paradigm of manipulating forces in order to make life definitely more comfortable, which that’s not bad or anything. But if you look at the devastation of the environment or just a lot of the problems in the world—the nuclear arms stuff that going on—a lot of it is basically just an advancement of a culture of magic where the priestly or ruling class starts manipulating the forces of nature in order to mostly help people at the very top or to kind of engender a culture of materialism rather than conscious participation in the cycles of life with an acceptance of death, impermanence, of sacrificial culture, of mindfulness of some kind.
So, to me, I actually think that any form of astrology from any period can be used in a materialist spirit or what I would call a more spiritual or mindful spirit. One of the reasons I found traditional astrology was because I felt like the modern astrology that I was practicing—I’m not laying this on anyone other than myself—but the way that I was practicing and the things that I was studying, they really seemed to encourage people to look at the birth chart in a way where it was all about manipulating it either consciously or unconsciously to say something that you liked or to avoid things that you didn’t like. And in so far as that was my experience of astrology, I felt that it was kind of like a technology that I didn’t like, or it was technology that wasn’t being used ethically or appropriately. Now coming to traditional astrology, I feel like I found that Stoic spirit in the ancient philosophy. I mean, the Vedic culture in India, the yogic culture and how it adopts Greek astrology into India along with its own astrology—the Stoics, the Platonists—they all have a very similar attitude about being careful that you don’t get wrapped up in trying to basically just manipulate material forces to make the tastiest treats or avoid the stuff you don’t like
So I think ancient astrology just returned to me that spiritual paradigm, but it also gave me a set of tools that allowed me to recognize that the problem with being really enmeshed in the material world on any level is that the more that we get enmeshed in it from a place of desire or fear, the more that, in some sense, we become really predictable. So I think that a lot of our lives in fact are predictable because I think that we’re all pretty enmeshed in materialism. I also don’t want to distance myself from the secular materialist worldview because my life is predictable to the extent that I participate in it, and I do so a lot all the time; I think all of us do. So I think ancient astrology also has within it the ability to address the secular materialist worldview because that’s actually the reality that’s best at addressing with its predictive techniques, in my opinion anyway.
Anyway, I promised I wouldn’t make this long and now I have. That’s all I wanted to say. So I just think that we have to be really careful with not separating the philosophical issues of ancient times with modern times. I think they’re very similar. And yet, I think traditional astrology has this unique role to play in introducing us to techniques that in some ways draw out the stark distinction between spirit and matter, so I think that’s what ancient astrology’s really done for me. I don’t find that it’s any more difficult to be an ancient astrologer than a modern astrologer; like nobody really knows the difference other than astrologers. Among astrologers, I find it difficult only insofar as I want to get along with everybody, but I have philosophical convictions that tell me that trying to use astrology just like a materialist form of magic—that’s not what I’m interested in. But also I don’t want to offend anybody else, so that’s how I find it challenging.
CB: Sure. Yeah, I agree. I mean, just speaking to his question, he used the words ‘cognitive dissonance’, which I think is really important. One of the things underlying is question—and one of the things I think it’s important all astrologers understand is that in terms of the current—I don’t even want to say scientific paradigm—but in terms of modern-day culture and society in the early 21st century and our current scientific understanding of the universe astrology shouldn’t work, or there’s not explanatory rationale or mechanism that could explain it currently. And that’s one of the reasons why it has the place that it occupies in society today where it’s viewed as a pseudo-science that’s not valid and is only used, skeptics assume, to rip people off. They assume that that’s what most astrologers are doing without necessarily even having any firsthand knowledge.
And for astrologers that does create a cognitive dissonance because we are practicing and we’re observing astrology working all the time, but we’re living in a society that says this shouldn’t be possible and this isn’t something that can or does work partially just in terms of physical mechanisms. For example, there’s no understood physical mechanism that would explain why astrology works as far as science is concerned today. So like gravity, for example, is not a physical mechanism that could explain why astrology works because the planets can’t exert some gravitational influence which then causes a horary question or an electional chart to work, let alone a natal chart.
So I’m personally very acutely aware of that, and that’s something that has weighed heavily on me at different points. He asks specifically about how it affects us on a day-to-day or personal basis. It’s like I’m one of those people that grew up in the 1990s and in a largely secular, pro-science-type cultural context and watched stuff like Bill Nye’s science program for children. And I was into more recently Neil deGrasse Tyson’s Cosmos series, and I love all of that stuff and am very pro-science and pro-science education, so it does put me in an awkward position then of understanding and being realistic about what the place of astrology is currently in society.
And that can lead to awkward social interactions as well because I’m also then aware that according to most polls that it’s only something like 25% of people think that astrology is valid or think that astrology is a real, legitimate phenomena. Which means that if that’s true, if that statistic is at all valid, it means 3 out of 4 people who you meet in your average day-to-day life are not going to think that the thing that you do professionally is valid—and in fact might think that you’re up to no good in practicing it. If they’re a skeptic, they’re gonna think that you’re cold reading people and ripping people off. If they’re religious, they’re gonna think that you’re in league with the Devil or something like that, and that astrology works but it’s just through evil magic or something like that.
He asked specifically on a personal day-to-day what the side effects are. I won’t typically be very open with a stranger if they ask me what I do. I won’t necessarily say, “I’m an astrologer,” because I don’t know how that person is gonna perceive or react to that statement. And so, sometimes I’ll just say some side thing that I do actually happen to do as a side effect of my work in astrology, like “I do web design,” or “I do a podcast,” or something like that. And eventually if I get to know the person maybe I might open up or explain more of what I do, but I think that’s one of the specific instances where he asked about day-to-day things and how I deal with that cognitive dissonance. And I would say that one of them is just this hyper-awareness of the place of astrology in society today, but then on the other hand thinking that’s unfortunate because I think it’s a legitimate phenomenon. So I’m just trying to practice it within that context while being aware of what society thinks more broadly about the subject.
AE: Yeah. I think for me the thing that I latched onto in the question was this idea of ‘our current secular materialist worldview’, trying to draw out that I think that we’ve always been in a secular materialist worldview for the reasons I explained. But I think in terms of dealing with it every day—I guess for me I’ve had a different path that’s gotten me used to it. Basically for 10 years I was drinking ayahuasca back and forth in South America and ended up writing a book about it and gradually sort of sinking the ship of any potential career in academics that I had. I was in grad school. I did a couple of grad degrees and was on the path to probably teach at a university or college or community college or something, and basically slowly had to work my way out of the entire culture, taking risks and dealing with it. And that process was painful—feeling misunderstood, feeling judged. I guess that would be the cognitive dissonance.
Beyond that, I guess now I don’t experience a lot of cognitive dissonance anymore, but it’s probably because my wife and I own a yoga studio—I’m surrounded by people who do yoga a lot—and I see clients a lot, and I don’t hang out with people outside of the communities that I’ve established, I guess. Not so much anyway, maybe family, some family, but going through the process of feeling out-of-step with the rest of the world. But I’m also like the day-to-day world that rejects astrology—I do get really annoyed when I see this thing that goes viral once in a while where someone says, “Astrology’s been debunked. The zodiac has moved. There’s a 13th sign.”
CB: Yeah, like every 6 to 12 months at this point there’s a new zodiac controversy.
AE: Yeah. And so, whenever that comes around I feel misunderstood. I want to sit everyone down and just have a panel. Like get a group of us together and just be like, all right, let us all answer your questions about the zodiac or whatever. But, yeah, I always say to people—I don’t know where I heard this originally—but you can’t talk a person out of a position using reason that they didn’t use reason to get into in the first place. And as unreasonable, or in modern terms, how unscientific or unprovable astrology is, I think that most of the skepticism towards astrology is not because of the lack of proof, it’s more irrational. It’s more emotional and primal and psychological. Also just realizing that I’m actually the rational one in a lot of situations where I’m dealing with people who believe that I’m really irrational has been helpful, especially when you study about the history of the philosophy associated with divinatory practices. I believe it’s actually grounding, sane, reasonable, eloquent. I think living from the ground of faith and philosophy is a different path than living from the guiding paradigm of truth being materialist. I think once you make the switch, I’m not sure that the dissonance occurs, unless you’re trying to live in both worlds at once.
CB: Sure. I mean, I think it’s useful—or I usually encourage people to pay attention to what skeptics are saying or what the popular perception of astrology is in terms of the negative perception of astrology in society when it is negative, just because it can help to keep you humble in realizing that astrology is not widely accepted in society compared to other eras in history, like 2,000 years ago during the early Roman Empire where it was widely accepted in society. Or at different points, like during the Renaissance, or even Indian culture where it’s more widely accepted. I think it’s good to be aware of that because it keeps us humble. And also, sometimes astrologers do have a tendency to stay within their own closed bubbles in only talking to people that agree with them or have the same worldview or what have you. And while that’s fine and there’s not necessarily anything wrong with that, I do think it can be helpful to be aware of and sometimes expose yourself or, yeah, just look into and ask questions and understand how outside people or people outside of the astrological community perceive what you do and how you’re talking about it.
One of the things that I’m interested in, for example, in this podcast is at least making the attempt sometimes to reframe what we’re talking about and state it more generally so that somebody who just walked in off the street and doesn’t have an opinion about astrology either way, or maybe assumes it’s not a legitimate phenomenon—that we could try to explain what we’re doing to them in a rational way that makes sense. Even if you don’t understand it, or if you don’t know if it’s valid yet, at least you’ve heard somebody attempt to articulate exactly what it is that they’re doing. And there’s something about being aware of the skepticism and the process of staying somewhat humble about it as a result of that that I think can be healthy in terms of astrologers.
Astrology’s not gonna become widely accepted by astrologers continually just talking amongst themselves and us patting ourselves on the back about how we’re doing something that’s valid, and we know that and that’s all that matters. But it’s gonna become more widely accepted in society through astrologers being able to talk to just general people—whether they’re skeptics or whether they’re agnostic on the issue—and being able to explain it to them in a way that sounds approachable or sounds rational, like it could be actually a valid worldview rather than something that’s just crazy and far out there and not approachable in any way whatsoever. So that’s usually how I think about that.
AE: Yeah, it’s a deep subject I think because it brings up—as you of course know—many of the ancient astrologers were very guarded about who could learn astrology, and I think that there was a kind of protectiveness around the dissemination of the ‘sacred science’. And I feel like it’s such a tricky tension to hold or a balance of some kind to strike between listening to the public and to the critics and to the skeptics, and being held accountable or humble, such a good point because certainly with great power comes great responsibility, and I think astrology is a kind of great power. But on the other hand there’s a teacher, an Indian teacher that I really like, and he makes the quote sometimes that comes from the Bhagavad Gita too, which is Krishna talking to Arjuna saying, “Don’t try to talk to people who are asleep because you’ll disturb them. In the long run that won’t actually be good for you or for them.” But then there’s also this kind of teaching that you don’t hide it. There’s nothing to purposely hide either.
And this one teacher that I really like says, “Very few people have the psychic, psychological, or spiritual funds to purchase a diamond.” Most people are not in the habit of investing into something that’s a true treasure. And I know that could sound really elitist, it could easily fall right over into a cult mentality or something, but I think we have to hold this tension between being aware of the skepticism, wanting astrology to be better understood by the best minds in our cultures. That would be my goal, the best minds, the ones that are creative. Where can we find allies in the scientific community? Where can we build bridges between communities that might look at astrology and otherwise be very intelligent and forward-thinking or what have you, but otherwise not understand astrology?
And then this other end of saying, okay, well, if it’s widely accepted then you get Christianity. In some ways the worst thing that ever happened to Christianity was Protestant evangelical movements where it became so widespread that basically the beliefs of Christianity became co-opted for anything but actual Christian values. So I think we have a similar problem with astrology, which was probably one of the reasons why some of the ancient astrologers didn’t want people to really get a hold of it.
CB: Right, yeah. I think about some of the smartest intellectuals or scientists and how it’d be interesting if we had some of those people working with astrologers on the problem of astrology. Not the problem, but exploring what its implications are for the world and for philosophy and for science and our understanding of the cosmos and stuff. There’s so many interesting facets of astrology that seem to talk about or seem to imply very broad-ranging things about the nature of time and different things like that. I’m sure some very interesting things would happen if you had more deeper intellectuals or scientists looking into astrology as a phenomenon and drawing things from it.
I guess that’s one of the things that makes me interested sometimes in how you would articulate it to one of those people if you were trying to present it as something that they should pay attention to. And that’s one of the reasons why I’m interested in that even though I understand the other point, the other counterpoint to that in terms of who cares. If it’s not gonna be accepted by society, but it’s this really cool secret thing that astrologers can do some really interesting stuff with, and people generally don’t bother us and we’re able to continue to operate on the fringes of society with this really interesting thing then so be it. And at some point, honestly, most astrologers probably do have to get to that point.
While sometimes there’s a tendency for astrologers just to assume astrology will be accepted in society or widely accepted again someday, it’s not necessarily a given, and it’s not necessarily something that’s gonna happen any time soon. So it’s almost something that you have to—I don’t want to say resign yourself to—but sort of come to peace with to some extent that that’s not necessarily gonna happen tomorrow. And if you can’t be okay with that yourself personally—that society or your family members in some instances or people you meet on the street, that their perception of what you’re doing is gonna hinder you, or it bothers you so much that people may perhaps think negatively of something you’re doing—then, yeah, that is gonna potentially be a long-term issue.
CB: All right, so those are some good answers to that, but maybe we can move on and just knock out a few more questions before we wrap this up today.
CB: All right, so the next question is by Alec Senese who says, “My question for the Q&A episode is regarding a planet being under the beams but out of sign. Is the debility active or less so than if they were in [the] same sign?” And he gives an example if the Sun was at 28° of Virgo, and Jupiter at 6° of Libra. So my answer to that is that under the beams is an observational consideration that has to do with the planet being too close in proximity to the Sun so that it cannot be seen. And so, it’s not related to aspects necessarily; it’s related to concrete visual phenomena. And in that sense I don’t think the sign boundary has any bearing or has any effect on the efficacy of a planet being under the beams or not under the beams. What do you think?
AE: Yeah, I would agree with that. The only thing I would add—I mean it sounds like this was a wedding chart. He mentions the Sun at 28 Virgo, Jupiter at 6 Libra. In that case the Sun is going to overtake Jupiter, conjoin with Jupiter in Libra, it’s gonna move out of Virgo. To me, I would pay attention if this were a horary, for example. If someone wanted me to say—if you were gonna look at this as the wedding chart—how will things go or something like that, I would pay attention to the fact that there’s a sign change happening for the Sun because the dignity of the Sun is going to change. Little details like that I couldn’t say what exactly that would mean, just that in a case like that where the planet’s under the beams but it’s out-of-sign, the dignity of the planet that’s under the beams and the dignity of the Sun, if there are any changes that occur that might be read into what the question is or what the purpose of reading the chart might be. It’s possible that that could come to bear on something. But otherwise I would say, generally speaking, yeah, being under the beams is more like the way we would treat a degree-based aspect in modern astrology. If it’s applying right across the sign boundary, I would be fine with it. If it’s really far out, really far away, I guess 15—what is it? 8 or 15 for under the beams, Chris? I’m forgetting.
CB: Yeah, 15 is the standard in the Hellenistic tradition, and that may be due to symbolic reasons, but then of course visibility-wise it can be much tighter than that. So there becomes a question in practice about whether you want to use the full 15° range, which may be partially based on observational considerations and partially on symbolic ones, or if you want to use a tighter orb, so to speak, based on when will Jupiter actually become invisible when it gets too close in proximity to the Sun.
AE: Yeah, yeah, so we’re in agreement.
CB: Okay. So, yeah, that answers that question. Next question is from a patron named Katherine White who says, “Sorry in advance for the vagueness. Two concepts I don’t feel I have a practical handle on [one is] declination and [the other is] antiscia. How prominently do these factor into your electional work? Did discovery of these concepts become game changers for you in your astrological studies (and if so, how?). [And] how do examining these points add color or more precision to casting or examining a chart?” So those are her questions. I’m not gonna give my full answer right now, but I just want to say I don’t personally really use declination or antiscia. Is that something that you use or that you’ve integrated into your work at this point?
AE: It’s a big part of my horary practice. Not declination, but antiscia.
CB: Okay. Was that a game-changer when you integrated it? How well-integrated into your horary practice is antiscia at this point? I mean, in the Hellenistic tradition it seemed like it was often invoked as a mitigating condition almost where you would apply the standard aspect doctrine of looking to see if there are any aspects between two planets like a conjunction or a sextile or a square, trine or opposition. If there were not then you could almost default to the antiscia, and if there was an antiscia relationship then it was almost just as good as being in aspect to some extent. I mean, is that how you use it, or is it more prominent than that?
AE: Well, I think I use it in the way that I’ve been taught to use it through my horary studies, which would probably come more from William Lilly and later in the tradition. I’ve been taught to look at it as a kind of conjunction between planets, antiscia, and contra-antiscia, perhaps more like an opposition. And often perhaps secretive, perhaps with an aura of secrecy around it or hiddenness, of being in the shadows. Of course both antiscia and contra-antiscia have to do with equal shadow and equal light, or relationships around the solstices or equinoxes basically. I’ll give you a simple example. I had a woman who was in for a reading, and she was talking about dealing with basically a foul temper, just irritated. I could not see anything that was really spelling it out; then I found the Moon and Mars were in antiscia with one another. And it was very interesting because the way she actually described it was, “I have this horrible temper, but I don’t let people see it. It’s only the people that are really close to me that know that I struggle with anger.” So I thought it was interesting that she actually described it as something that she hides from people and there was an antiscia between the Moon and Mars, so it was perfect.
I’ve had things like that happen a lot in my practice where maybe there’s some facet of a person’s psychology or personality or some very particular situation, it’s almost like antiscia and contra-antiscia are very—for example, the MeToo movement. MeToo took place as Venus and Mars were in a perfect contra-antiscia with one another. So when that happened I was really struck by the symbolism of it because one of the ways that it was classically described—and I forget my source—but it was described as pertaining to accusations; like enmity and strife and contentious accusations and things like that. And I think it has something to do with escaping or escaped slaves or something else; fugitives or something like that. But anyway, the MeToo movement had a nice contra-antiscia signature which I thought was really great because it was all these secretive dynamics that were being called out publicly; so the contra-antiscia is a bit more like an opposition.
I found that it’s really useful to look for those things day-to-day when I’m doing my daily horoscopes. Or especially horary, for example, one thing that I learned from John Frawley that I really liked was there was a chart that he read—he has this in one of his public lectures—where there’s a woman who’s inquiring about her husband or something, like, “Will we get back together?” or something. And her signifier is in an antiscia with another planet. I don’t remember what it was, like maybe Mars or something. And the way that Frawley used it, he thought to ask her the question, “Are you asking this because you’re currently seeing someone else, or you’ve recently had an affair?” or something like that because her planet is in a secretive conjunction with another planet. And it turned out that was exactly what was going on for this woman. I thought that was a nifty example of antiscia.
So a lot of the times in horary, if something is in an antiscia with something else, it might let me know that there’s a secret motivation of some kind, or there’s some other connection that’s not as obvious or apparent that’s at play in the question or in the situation that the chart’s trying to reveal. So that’s how I usually use it. Chris, you quote in your course—there’s a good saying from around the time of the Medieval astrologers: there was a new part, like a new lot or a new part appearing every day, hundreds of them or whatever. Whether it’s asteroids or random concepts of any kind, I think you can always over-saturate or overdo things. So I kind of have a checklist of things that I go through; they’re not at the top of my list. I think you can do a reading without really doing a scan of antiscia or whatever, but I also don’t discount anything. They’re definitely in my toolkit, for whatever that’s worth.
CB: Yeah, that was a famous quote from al-Biruni who in the 12th or 13th century, or maybe 10th century, is introducing the lots or the Arabic parts, and he sort of sarcastically says, “These guys are coming up with new ones every day it seems,” and then he goes in and introduces like a hundred or 200 lots. They were going nuts with it at that point. So there was a Lot of Lentils, which I forget, that might be like a Mars-Jupiter lot or something like that. So they started making a bunch of lots for commodities. And sometimes that’s a thing astrologers will do. There will be a new concept and then they’ll just take it to whatever its utmost extreme is by continuing to work out all the different nuances and details and other various manifestations or different permutations of the ways that you could develop the concept.
But this kind of brings us around to a point that was made in the last episode, which is what sometimes new students have a tendency to do that I think you should be careful about. New students have a tendency to try to integrate a lot of minor considerations before fully establishing the most important basic considerations. And so, sometimes this manifests as jumping to using things like Arabic parts a little bit too soon, or using a ton of asteroids, or using every possible minor aspect or what have you. And sometimes the result is overwhelming ‘cause if there’s too many data points, it can be hard to sift through and figure out what’s more important and what’s less important because you start elevating the role of less important things and treating them as if they’re as important as the primary considerations. And that becomes problematic and can really mess up or affect your ability to effectively delineate sometimes.
Now that’s kind of an arguable statement I realize because there are some people that specialize in some of what I would consider to be ‘minor’ techniques who would argue that these are not minor techniques, or that these are just as important or what have you. But it sort of becomes a subjective thing, that all astrologers develop their standard approach and what they think are the core things that they need to integrate in any chart delineation, and then what are the mid-level things, and then what are the lowest-level things that you look at last once you’ve looked at all of your other primary things in terms of different levels of importance and priority in delineating a chart. So there’s just a lot of things like that where it’s like I understand these are things that exist and have some significance that I don’t integrate regularly in my practice, or I don’t look at very commonly just because they don’t have the same priority for me. Even though I know for some people they are much more important.
AE: Right. That brings up a funny story from this past week. There was an object that was tracked into our solar system, and it came in and left, and it was like a phallic-looking interstellar rock or something like that. Yeah, it looked like a phallic object. I don’t remember—it had a name. It was like ‘Oumaouma’ or something; I don’t even remember. But this thing came in and it went out—do you know what I’m talking about?
CB: Yeah, I remember. That’s actually funny ‘cause now that I’m thinking about it, I didn’t associate this before, but they’re saying this is a big landmark event because it’s the first confirmed interstellar object that they definitely know came from a different solar system and passed through ours. And that’s actually funny. Like at the end of Saturn in Sagittarius we have the most extreme manifestation of something foreign coming into the public consciousness at the very end of that.
AE: Right. Yeah, it was really fascinating because I saw a lot of people jumping to make the connection between the fact that it looked sort of phallic and, excuse my language, it’s a ‘cosmic dick pic’. With all of these things going on in the news with sexual predators being called out and stuff like that people thought, well, this has archetypal significance. And the problem that I have with that is just sort of connected to the overall thing of asteroids and astrology or any minor thing. Of course that’s a relevant symbol, and it’s a good symbolic eye for making the connection. How could it be any other way for those of us who believe in an archetypal cosmos? I mean, going back to the most ancient astrologers we all practice some belief in an interaction with archetypes.
But I’m cautious about the quickness and what I perceive—and this is just maybe my own curmudgeonly attitude—as a kind of mania sometimes around, “Oh, my God, a new object, a new interstellar event.” Rather than saying, of course it’s an event, it’s an appearance—an appearance can speak; an appearance can have archetypal import—instead we rush to assign it an archetypal value or an archetypal meaning. We rush to assign it something. And the problem that I have with that is that astrological symbols are multivalent, they’re multidimensional, they’re really complex; I think they take a long time to get to know. And, in my opinion, in order for an omen to really speak, of any kind, that omen also has to participate in a reality where it’s just another thing. Like a cigar really is a cigar; it’s not always a cosmic penis.
I mentioned this one time when we spoke. I said that sometimes there’s like a conspiracy of meaning. And if we’re always rushing out to assign symbolic value to things, what we’re really exposing is an intolerance toward the mundane. And that intolerance toward the mundane is present in the impatience that we have in assigning archetypal or symbolic value to every last thing that comes into the solar system. I just find that that kind of impatience and that lack of tolerance for the mundane, that lack of hesitance to assign symbolic value, I think it actually kills things. I think that impatience can actually really stop a thing from speaking. It can kill it in its tracks. Just like a dream. If you just rush right to the dream journal and try to interpret it, it stops it.
So my point with the asteroids is I’ve seen them work. I mean, Demetra read my chart with some asteroids, Demetra George, and it was just incredible. I mean, she uses them so wonderfully. But I think the point is, yeah, developing some kind of expertise with them, developing with them in time and patience and craft rather than just this sort of panic to make every last thing mean something and then put it in the system, assign it this, assign it that. And I wonder if some of that isn’t actually highlighting—in some of that astrological culture of rushing to do that—and exposing the divide between the unconscious materialism of astrology and its actual roots in divinatory or spiritual practices.
And the reason I wonder that is because if you really want to allow for something to speak, to be an omen, you have to tolerate that not everything is an omen. It’s like not every bird that I see is a messenger. And so, I think that trying to make everything into the science of astrology, like it’s all part of it, it betrays a kind of scientific attempt to objectively explain everything. But I think the explanatory power that’s being reached for in that is mechanistic. I don’t think it’s actually spiritual ‘cause I think for something to be spiritually explained it has to speak in and through the mundane. There’s a union there that exists and a tension that has to be held between the two. I was debating this with some people when I posted about the object that entered. I was like of course this is an archetypal event. Does it have to be an astrological event for it to be symbolically meaningful? Well, to me, no more than coming home and having a turtle sitting on my front porch or something. I don’t have to work the turtle into a birth chart.
CB: Right. Yeah, yeah. I mean, there’s two funny points—there’s two points—one of them is in modern astrology the prioritization of innovation over tradition and everything new as being seen as novel. This something actually even John Townley—when I interviewed him about composite charts—acknowledged was a major thread in astrology, especially back in the 1960s and ‘70s, which was just people rushing to innovate and innovate and come up with new things and that somehow how you would stake out your claim or set yourself apart as an astrologer is by coming up with a new technique or something. But then in retrospect, 30 years later, he felt that even some of his own speculations about how the composite chart might be used or how it might be relevant—that some of those didn’t pan out ultimately, and he spoke almost somewhat disparagingly of that tendency to rush to innovate or rush to invent.
And one of the ways of course that that’s become very prominent in the past few decades is through asteroids and the discovery of new planetary bodies more recently over the past decade, things like Sedna and Eris. I actually do have a real issue with that. Like you made a statement about people rushing to assign significance rather than just letting it speak or seeing what happens. And it’s like some of these bodies were just discovered very recently, and already there’s like five books or something—the last time I looked—about Eris that have already been published, even though it was just discovered a few years ago. And there’s something problematic about that to me that I see as sort of like a downside of a certain trend in modern astrology.
Part of it is losing the empirical backdrop of astrology where there’s always been these two approaches and it’s always been 50/50. On the one hand, you have the symbolic interpretation of ominous phenomenon saying that sometimes when something appears within the observer’s field of vision it can act as a sign or an omen that can be interpreted symbolically to mean something broadly about what’s happening at that time, or potentially about the future or what have you, and that’s like half of it. And the other half is, sort of broadly speaking, empiricism, where you look back into the past at times when that planet or that transit happened in the past and you look at the commonalities in the different instances in which that’s happened in the past in order to infer or try to develop an understanding about what that specific astrological thing means, and those two have always gone hand in hand.
But it feels like since the asteroids started becoming more popular in the ‘70s and ‘80s that it shifted almost entirely to the symbolic thing, where something has been given a name and therefore that name has symbolic significance and may have a myth associated with it; and therefore we just go to town developing this whole mythology or astrological set of significations just purely based on the mythology and the supposed symbolism, and there’s something problematic about that. So that’s one part of it. And the second part of what you were saying is the possible downside or possible issue where astrologers will sometimes over-assign meaning to things, or mis-assign meaning, and the struggle to determine what legitimately symbolizes something versus when you’re reaching a little bit too far, and that’s definitely something that astrologers sometimes struggle with.
AE: Right. And it goes back to that idea of the conspiracy of meaning, when meaning is thought of as something that is exclusively created basically because a lot of the modern philosophical paradigms are rooted in evolution and the idea of progress and evolving and things like that, so novelty and discovery—it can get sort of titanic. And then I think what happens is that the unconscious value placed on progress—at some point you have to say, well, progress towards what? What’s the endgame? I think that that question is actually a lot harder to answer. And certainly once we try to answer that question philosophically, or try to be held accountable to that question philosophically, that’s really a place that’s pretty open for debate. I mean, traditionally, philosophers have never agreed on that. So what is our ultimate purpose? What constitutes progress for an individual or a society? I mean, those are big questions.
At any rate, I think that one thing that happens is we can fill up a chart with so much. If we are trying to create meaning in a chart, in a reading, where we’re saying, “Okay, we’re gonna get together, the paradigm is there’s no meaning here to be unearthed, there’s no prediction; everything is radically indeterminate; the future is totally up to us to create,” if that’s the paradigm then of course the more meaning-making symbols that you have at your disposal, the more that you are able to make the meaning that you want. So I’ve been to workshops—it’s like a splatter paint of asteroids. I mean, basically you can’t even see the chart; there are just two dozen asteroids sitting on the wheel or whatever. There are people who are really good at it, so this is not about asteroids, per se, as much as it is a certain spirit in which they can be used.
And then I really don’t end up hearing anything that’s very specific in these instances I’m thinking of. Instead I see asteroids, and as you said, some of the ‘naming’ mythology that’s associated with them being used in order to basically describe very popular psychological clichés—you’re a healer; you’re gonna go through a death and rebirth—and they allow an easy associative gateway for the astrologer to basically create the meaning that they want to. If that’s the value that the astrologer has and that the client has then great. But if you’re somebody who believes that meaning is not exclusively created, but it’s inborn—it has to be discovered, not made, or it’s there, it’s inborn in the fabric of your life, it’s there, it can be read in a more predictive sense (like fate, destiny, that kind of things)—well then the important thing is to be concise and specific about it, not to just go about manifesting it or creating it.
And I think that sometimes, again, what happens is that when everything and anything becomes about your creation of meaning—it’s just hyper-subjectivity—we get oversaturated with things. And I actually think that that’s a part of a distraction technique on the part of cheap magicians. It’s like in a cartoon—the cheap magician who can’t get the trick to work waves a towel at all the kids, and the kids start looking at the towel so that the magician can tinker around and get the trick to look the way that he wants it to. And then you look back and, “Oh, my God, look at that amazing magic trick.” To me, it can actually devolve into something as cheap as showman distraction for an astrologer who does not know how to be specific and concise about meaning that’s already there.
CB: Right. Yeah, I definitely think that’s an issue. Typically when I see that approach taken to the extreme, I can’t help but think that that’s part of what’s going on. I mean, even at the most generous, I would say that there’s diminishing returns on the number of factors or variables that you attempt to integrate into a chart. Even though it’s true on some hand that astrology is like this vast complicated thing and that astrologers are only probably scratching the surface of it; there’s just so much you could take into account. And if we had this sense of omniscience of the ability to take into account every single chart and every factor that was relevant through some god’s eye view at any moment in time, we would have much greater insight or perception of the world in general.
In reality, because of the limitations, just your human limitations, or the limitations of time or perception or how astrologers work or what have you, I’ve never really seen it typically be the case that an astrologer who adds way too many variables, or tons and tons of variables into a chart, that they’re precision gets better. But instead I typically see once it goes past a certain point that it tends to get worse. So that’s part of my answer to the original question. Not to say that there’s nothing to declination or nothing to antiscia, and I know there’s some people that do good work with that, I just know that for myself one of my challenges over the past decade has been learning how to do more with less, and learning how to really fine tune and hone my skills with the basics and not worry about integrating as much in terms of more minor concepts. Even though, theoretically, you would think that would give you more detail and more nuance, in some instances there’s just diminishing returns once you go past a certain point.
AE: Yeah. And I think to be clear, just to reiterate—I don’t want to come off like a real a-hole here—I think asteroids work. Using analogies with tarot I think is really helpful, even though astrology and tarot are really different in some ways. When you do a reading, do you ever take all—what is it, 78 cards? I think it’s 78. But do you ever take all 78 cards and just spread them all out at once?
AE: No. Nobody does that. You do a three-card spread. You do a wheel, a Celtic cross. I have never ever been to a tarot reader who just chucks out all 72 cards. And there’s something about that we don’t question; like of course you wouldn’t put out all the cards. In astrology we have this interesting situation where I think people are somehow assuming that astrology is so radically different that you should be able to get a more accurate reading by laying out all 78 cards or whatever. It’s silly logic to think that way, but I think because we think it’s a science, because we don’t have enough of a connection to planets as signs, not causal factors. That’s my own opinion of course, but I know there’s been a lot of debate about that throughout the history of astrology.
CB: No. I mean, you might be onto something there. There might be some underlying mechanistic assumption that this is the missing piece that’s gonna complete astrology and that’s gonna make all of my predictions accurate from here on out. This is the missing piece that all of those other astrologers in the past didn’t have, that we have now, because we have, in a positive sense, the asteroid Chiron. Somebody would say Chiron is the best thing that must be integrated, that is the missing piece; or if you wanted to be snarky and say the asteroid ‘Beer’, that’s gonna be the missing piece that’s gonna unlock everything. There is almost this underlying, implicit assumption when it comes to minor techniques or additional bodies or additional points that people integrate where it almost does become like that.
I mean, on some level this gets into more problematic territory when you get into Uranian astrology or something like that where you’re dealing with hypothetical planets. Like you’re not even dealing with bodies that have actually been discovered, but instead there are astrologers who are claiming that there are bodies that have yet to be discovered that can be inferred based on their supposed effects or what have you. That’s where you start getting into really dicey territory when it comes to this whole thing of integrating new points and probably the most extreme manifestation of that on some level in Western astrology.
AE: Yeah, yeah. I don’t know much about Uranian astrology. The idea of hypothetical planets, I’m aware of that. I don’t mean to be cynical, it’s always just struck me as, I don’t know—I think I wasn’t born into the culture that got interested in that kind of astrology. I was born in a different generation maybe; I think both of us probably were. But, for me, I’ve always just seen astrology like a cosmic form of divination. It doesn’t need to be scientific or mechanistic, causal. I think understanding how divination works is a fascinating, potential scientific inquiry. And I’m not saying it’s totally divorced somehow from material causal forces either, but it’s certainly not as simple as the planets are causing things to happen any more than flipping the High Priestess or, excuse me, the Magician card or something like that in the tarot, and be like that’s what’s causing this to happen. Like nobody thinks about that with tarot. Nobody thinks about that with the I Ching. I think that there’s a really deceptive power in astrology because it’s connected to astronomy, but I think understanding astronomy in the lens of astrology is a different thing.
CB: Sure. All right, there’s just a few other questions. We could probably try to plow through them if you want.
AE: Yeah, sure.
CB: Okay, so one of them real quick—and I think this can be a short answer—but James Wade asks, “I know you guys have discussed Saturn returns before, but since it’s relevant to the upcoming ingress into Capricorn I think discussing the effects of Saturn in Capricorn on those with that natal placement would be interesting to listeners.” So we’re actually gonna do a whole Saturn in Capricorn episode probably in January, so we don’t need to go into this much. The only thing I would say is one of the things that Leisa and I have said for a while and observed through Saturn return stories and doing Saturn return consultations is that, generally speaking, it seems to be an observable, repeatable thing. The people with day charts, their Saturn returns often—all other factors aside and all other mitigating conditions aside—tend to be a little bit more constructive, and then the people with night charts, all other things aside, sometimes tend to have more challenging Saturn returns when they have night charts.
However, there are some major mitigating rules to that, and one of them is if Saturn is in its own domicile, Capricorn or Aquarius, or if it’s in its exaltation, which is in Libra. We often tend to see, even those people with night charts, that placement being heavily mitigated so that it’s not the most extreme or worst-case scenario manifestation of that. And then that’s doubled-up in those instances when there’s other mitigations, like if Jupiter and Venus are present in Capricorn, or they’re making a very favorable aspect to the natal Saturn; that can further offset it and make it more positive. So one of the things I would just say is, right away for Saturn in Capricorn people, a lot of you have a major mitigating placement that’s gonna make your Saturn return a little bit less challenging than it might be for people with it in other signs.
And the other thing is that for those people that are just going through their first Saturn return, we’re gonna see a repetition of some of the stuff we saw with those people who just finished up, where they had it conjunct Uranus in Sagittarius. And a lot of the people with Saturn in Capricorn hitting their first Saturn return will have Uranus in that sign as well. So you’re gonna get some unexpected things coming up, some unexpected disruptions, but then you’re also gonna get Neptune as a unique factor that was not factoring into a lot of those Saturn in Sagittarius Saturn returns over the past few years. So those are the two things that I would mention that are just specifically relevant to that placement for those people that have it starting here in December.
AE: Right. Yeah, you can’t talk about that one without really just talking about Saturn returns. The only thing I would add is that I think the signs of Saturn are the exiles or detriments of the Sun and the Moon. So I think about this from a planetary sympathy/antipathy perspective. Saturn also has its joy in the 12th. So I think of Saturn in relationship to exile. I think the opposition is the defining aspect for the detriments or exiles in the dignity schemes. And Saturn taking its joy in the 12th is related to exile, ostracization, banishment, not being, in some ways, in your homeland, or being in a foreign place that’s unfamiliar, being in a hospital, a prison; sort of being disempowered. So I think archetypally of Saturn, the 12th house, the detriments or exiles of the opposition—I think all of those things are kind of intertwined and related archetypally on some level.
And so, when Saturn sojourns through the entire zodiac, and especially when it’s come into Capricorn—because if it was Aquarius, it would have already been in a home sign for a while. But when it’s sojourning through the zodiac, I feel like where Saturn transits in your chart, the topics—depending on a lot of factors—all can take on a feeling of being pushed into places that are difficult or cold or remote or challenging. I mean, we all talk about Saturn and facing limits and fears and darkness and things like that. But, interestingly enough, I think when Saturn’s coming back to its home sign—if you were born with Saturn in its home sign—in a weird way it’s like the parts of you that may normally feel at odds with the status quo, or you may feel marginalized in some way, or your work or your attitude may feel like it’s always the black sheep or something like that, I think this can be a time where things that are normally marginalized or things that are normally looked down upon as difficult or bad or whatever kind of come into a place of being a little bit more empowered. So it might be that when Saturn returns to Capricorn in your chart that you feel just a little bit justified in your struggles. That’s the simplest way that I’d put it, I guess.
CB: Sure, that makes sense. And I meant to mention earlier—I mentioned Uranus being there and the unexpected disruption thing. With the Neptune thing, the fact that you’re gonna be having a Saturn return—but also a Saturn conjunct Neptune transit—that with Neptune, it brings in this illusory quality and other typical Neptune keywords, like trouble with boundaries or sometimes being led astray for a period, or going through a period in which sometimes you can get sidetracked with things, especially if you’re not fully clear what the deal is or what the direction that you’re going is. And sometimes, especially with Neptune transits, you don’t really understand or don’t have a lot of perspective on it until after it’s over.
And I think that’s gonna be kind of problematic for some of these Saturn returns in Capricorn because that’s not typically a manifestation that you would normally have with Saturn because Saturn tends to be a little bit more concrete and a little bit more straightforward. Here’s the mountain, this is what you have to do. Now climb it. Whereas with Neptune, it’s often not clear what the end goal is or what you have to do in order to get to the end of this period, but instead you just kind of stumble your way through and sometimes find yourself on the other side. And in retrospect you can see what the purpose was and see the kind of maze that you went through to get where you are today, but it’s not something that you have a lot perspective on as you’re doing it ‘cause you’re basically walking through like a fog or a like a cloud bank oftentimes.
AE: Chris, are you talking about people born in the late ‘80s, or something like that, with Neptune in Capricorn?
AE: Okay, I gotcha.
CB: Yeah, just ‘cause with the Saturn and Sag people that are just finishing their Saturn returns right now, who were born in the mid-to-late-‘80s, they had Saturn in Sagittarius, and Uranus was either in that sign, or in some instances, was actually very closely-conjunct Uranus. But with this one, it’s gonna be people born with Saturn in Capricorn, and Uranus is also in Capricorn, and then Neptune is also there. And in some instances, they’re gonna have a very tight Saturn-Neptune conjunction, so that Saturn-Neptune activation is gonna be a prominent part of their Saturn return.
AE: We should be clear though that that’s for this new generation of first-time Saturn returns. If you were born with Saturn in Cap and you’re much older then it wouldn’t have Neptune.
CB: Yeah. And one of the only reasons I bring it up is just ‘cause it was so stark when we were doing some of the Saturn return stories. When we did the first Saturn return stories for the people born in the ‘80s, it was like a lot of them had that Uranus theme very prominently as part of their Saturn return story. Whereas the people that were going through their second Saturn return, who didn’t have Uranus there in Sagittarius natally conjunct Saturn—and therefore didn’t have that Uranus theme—it was very starkly different what their Saturn return stories were because it didn’t have that unexpected component to it typically.
AE: Astrology works.
CB: Yeah, standard stuff. Anyway, that’s what I would say to that, and we’ll do another episode on Saturn in Capricorn later. There’s another question from Arlene Edmonds about the Descendant. But I don’t know that we have time to go into that ‘cause that’s kind of a standard question, and I don’t have a specific angle on that that would necessarily be interesting, unless you do.
AE: I could just say one quick thing on the Descendant. She says, “[There’s] a lot of emphasis on the ascendant. I was wondering your take on the significance of the descendant.” Manilius talks about the 7th place, which I think you could sort of link up to the setting place, the setting degree in the 7th house, the Descendant. He talks about it in relationship to the end of toil and struggle. And so, while I think it’s very common to see the Descendant and 7th house related to love and relationships and marriage, I’ve actually seen with a lot of clients people finishing a dissertation, or somebody graduating, or a resolution of some kind or an ending of some kind. I think that is also a part of the 7th house. The Descendant in particular, of course it could be endings in relationships or breakups, but it’s associated with banquets and celebrations. So a resolution or a consummation of something, Manilius talks about it in relationship to a consummation of affairs, I believe. So you can think about the Descendant in relation to those things, as well as marriage or something.
CB: Sure, definitely. One funny anecdote that I will say about the Descendant that I don’t think is commonly stated in texts that much is just sometimes it is funny how a person will have a transit to their 7th or the ruler of the 7th will be activated or be activated through profections, or just whatever, it’s the 7th house—and the person will be looking around and waiting for an event to happen and nothing will really happen in their life. But then if you look at their spouse or their partner, and their partner just had a major event happen in their life.
AE: Right, right.
CB: And sometimes it’s funny because you’re looking at a person’s chart and you’re expecting to see something in their life, but what happens is the chart’s indicating something in the life of someone near by them. And if you’re not paying attention to it, you can overlook that. Or even the client in reporting it could overlook it and say, “No, nothing significant happened at that point,” but then it turned out that their spouse just got a promotion or something and increased their income significantly, or got fired and lost their job or something like that.
AE: Right. I have a student of mine and we’ve studied together privately for a long time now. And she was puzzling over what would happen when Uranus in Aries transited her Descendant, ‘cause she was like, “My partnership’s very stable, no drama,” and her fiancé tore his ACL playing tennis with a friend, like right smack on, with Uranus in Aries on the Descendant.
AE: So it was like, of course, right. So something doesn’t happen in your relationship, per se, but happened to your significant other.
CB: Right, yeah. And it’s funny ‘cause Leisa, for example, my partner, has Jupiter in the 7th. And a few years ago, when Jupiter transited through and exactly hit her 7th some major stuff started happening for me, and suddenly things were just taking off for me and my career. And I became very prominent suddenly and was getting a lot of speaking positions and it was weirdly coinciding exactly with this transit to her chart, but then nothing was necessarily happening in her life directly. And so, we were always joking about how I was ‘stealing’ her Jupiter transit because it was going through her 7th house.
AE: That’s great. Well, I’ve got Jupiter in my 7th right now in Scorpio, so I’ll just have to wait for my wife to hit the lottery.
CB: Yeah, report back and let me know how that goes. All right, and then the last two questions that we received from patrons—we’ve actually worked through all of them—one was from Neva Welton and the other was from Veronica Gledhill, and they were both about electional astrology, and specifically, my approach to elections. I put out, or me and Leisa put out these auspicious elections charts each month, one of which I feature in the forecast episodes, where we feature the most auspicious electional chart or standalone electional chart that we could find each month. And then we also record a separate private podcast for patrons on the $5 and $10 tiers on Patreon where we go through the four most auspicious electional charts that we could find each month. And that goes back to a column that I used to write for The Mountain Astrologer Magazine where I used to do the same from 2012 through 2016.
So Neva Welton says, “I’d like to know what kinds of actions people take to get the most out of the elections you bring forth.” And she says, “You do a great job of saying what and when, but I’m curious how people actually work with them?” And Veronica has a longer series of questions related to this, but her first one is similar. It says, “I think it would be nice to hear more on the common sense application of electional astrology; how does one best use the time, or apply it?” So this is a little bit more specific to the electional things that I put out. But, I mean, you also practice electional astrology, right?
AE: The main thing that I do for elections is help people decide dates for ceremonies.
CB: Like marriages.
AE: Like weddings, yeah. I haven’t practiced much beyond that. The one thing that I’m very careful of is—I’ll just say this and I’ll let you take the question. I’m turned off from the kind of electional astrology that says, “When should I buy my lottery ticket?” I’m sure maybe somebody asked that, but basically whenever it’s like ‘what can I do to get what I want’. I’m real cautious about that because it’s a fine line, for me, between that and the materialistic. This is not a technology that’s there to—like I want to help people meet their destiny and use their free will as best they can, but I’m not like a wish-granter. So I don’t like electional astrology that’s like that, but I know that that’s not the only way that it’s practiced. So the only way that I’ve really practiced it thus far with my own clients has just been mostly deciding on weddings or deciding possible fruitful times to try to get pregnant.
CB: Sure. Yeah, I mean, I would say along those lines that primarily what I’m doing with it is just trying to help people optimize more effective times to do things that they were already gonna do or already plan to do anyways. Not try to pick something in order to do something that’s completely out of the ordinary or that’s like a long shot, like you mentioned, like buying a lottery ticket or something like that. I have a much more conservative view about electional astrology to begin with where I tend to be more oriented toward than natal astrology towards viewing it as describing a person’s fate and figuring out what a person’s fate or life story and life narrative is, and for electional, I partially practice it in that context.
Through the advancements of technology and stuff, you have Solar Fire, and I often do have Solar Fire running in the background on the live animate chart feature all day, or the clock feature, where it just shows what the current chart is every minute, and it changes every minute or every second for your city and your exact location, so that you know what sign of the zodiac is rising over the eastern horizon at that time, or what planets are culminating at the Midheaven or what have you, and you can kind of glance at it from time to time throughout the day if you want to. And my awareness of that over the years has led me to observe that sometimes when I attempt to do different things, even sometimes relatively minor or minuscule things—like going on an errand or sending an email or doing a blog post or something—sometimes when I would start things at certain times that were not as astrologically-auspicious they would not go as well, or I would run into difficulties or things would be a little bit more challenging than they could be. Whereas other times when I would do it under a more classically-auspicious astrological moment things would tend to have a smoother outcome or would tend to be more in alignment with what I was shooting for or my more ideal scenario.
I don’t think you can completely change one’s fate or completely go against one’s own life narrative, but there’s little ways that sometimes you can alter things or even just act knowing that if I do this now at this time, it’s more likely to have this type of outcome, whereas if I wait and do it at this time then it’s more likely to have this type of outcome. And just that knowledge alone, if you want to, you can integrate that into your daily life in a way that’s useful, at least just in terms of acting more consciously in general. And, yeah, I think that’s usually, philosophically speaking, how I usually recommend it and how I use it in my own life.
AE: Right, right. When I have done an election for getting pregnant, the first piece of astrological advice that I have is to track your cycle and know when you’re ovulating.
CB: Right, right.
AE: So I hear what you’re saying. If I were to ever go deeper into electional it’s certainly the same philosophical approach that I would take.
CB: Yeah, that’s a great example because it doesn’t negate the other 95% of what needs to be done in order to be successful in something, or in order to attempt to achieve whatever your desired outcome is, which is just practically doing what is, in practical terms, appropriate and necessary in order to do that thing. But sometimes with electional astrology, if there’s this other 5% that just has to do purely with timing the moment, and if you can tweak that slightly in some instances, you can find that it will make a significant difference, enough to be worthwhile. And sometimes what’s funny about that is you can delay one moment and it can be something as simple as writing an email.
Let’s say you just got an email from someone and it’s a little bit annoying and you write a response back really quickly, and then you pull up the chart and you see that Mars is right on the Ascendant. And so, if you send that email at that time you’re gonna have Mars in a day chart conjunct the Ascendant or something like that. And to know in that moment that perhaps if I send that email at that time and it has some sort of delicate content, maybe it could inflame things more than they already are versus if you just wait an hour; the Ascendant changes signs and Mars is no longer conjunct the Ascendant. But instead let’s say Venus or Jupiter is. Sometimes you’ll find that in that moment—in the intervening timeframe when you decided to put off sending it for an hour or two—that maybe you’ve calmed down. You go back and look at your email and realize, “I didn’t really state this or write this as well as I could have and maybe I could tone this section down to be a little bit more amicable,” and therefore you end up sending it and it does in fact end up being a little bit less inflammatory and doesn’t get you in as much trouble it might otherwise.
AE: Yeah, that’s really interesting. Hearing you speak more about this, you’re basically describing how I use the I Ching. So if I’m wondering about if I should write an email or if I should do this or that, or when or something like that, I’ll put the question to the I Ching, and usually the I Ching will offer almost like strategic counsel. It’s usually taking place within the context of something that’s in a sense already fated, but it’s how you’re maneuvering. What free will you have within some destined sequence of events or some circumstance that you find yourself in, the I Ching will provide you with almost like instinctual feedback. Go here. Go there. Do this. Be careful of that. It’s not changing the fact that you’ve got to write that email back, but it’s kind of calibrating you somehow. If I understand you correctly, that’s a beautiful use of electional astrology. I’ve never heard it articulated quite like that. I really like that.
CB: Yeah, and that’s just one little tiny mundane example. So when we put those electional charts out, we put like four or five of them out a month for patrons, and we’ve been doing that for more than five years now, since I started doing that column for TMA in 2012 and when we started doing the electional podcasts about a year or so ago. Leisa and I, when we’ve identified those four or five charts each month, since we’re all generally aware ahead of time what the good electional times are or good dates are, we’ll tend to push some of our more important events or actions that we need to take towards—in some instances, when we can—those dates each month.
So if you go back and track when I released these podcast episodes, you’ll see me consistently oftentimes pushing them towards certain electional dates, if they’re otherwise practical; for example, if it’s not usually practical to release a podcast on the weekend. So even if there’s a good electional date, I typically won’t release it then because it won’t get as much traffic. But if I’m already planning on releasing a podcast, ideally, on a Monday, but then there’s a better electional chart on Tuesday, then I’ll push that release date later a day to be on the Tuesday just in order to get the better electional chart. Because sometimes I’ve experienced events in the past—I guess we’re like 136 episodes into this at this point—where sometimes I’ll record an episode and I’ll put it out there thinking it’s nothing, and then I’ll put it out under a bad electional chart where Mars is culminating on the Midheaven or something at that time. And then all of a sudden there’ll be a lot of negative feedback or people will react negatively, or there’ll be a debate or an argument as a result of some minor thing that was said in that episode.
And so, it’s funny, just the process of electional astrology has made me learn that sometimes actions can have unintended and unanticipated reactions. And part of electional astrology is just learning how to have not just more control but better awareness of what kind of reactions different actions that you take are gonna have. Yeah, so I use it for a lot of not just major, but also moderate and minor events during the course of a month, and I kind of recommend people do the same. I don’t think they should go out of their way and change their lives in order to accommodate the electional stuff most of the time, especially for minor stuff. But if there’s some minor scheduling thing where you can bump it from one day to another and it’s not gonna make a difference, but you’re gonna get a vastly better electional chart, then it’s not gonna hurt anything; and, in fact, it may end up helping. So I think that’s it. I mean, there were a bunch of other follow-up questions, but I know we’re going on for about two-and-a-half-hours now. So perhaps we could leave it at that. How are you doing?
AE: Yeah, I’m good. I’m just looking over these questions to see if there’s anything interesting that we could hit more quickly. But I think the one thing that’s interesting to me is the part about—well, I can’t really speak to it—but I’m fascinated by the question on Renaissance electional astrology, creating talismans, amulets, etc. That’s a pretty technical question. It’s interesting, but I’m not sure if it’s in our scope to answer. What do you think?
CB: Yeah, probably not. I mean, Veronica does ask another one, she says, “I’ve heard and read different things like the election is just the date and time in which you begin to do something versus the launching/publishing of that something at that specific time. Obviously these can be very different uses of that time to begin something versus launching.” So she says, “Is it the moment that one begins concepting a new endeavor, actually making the bones of the new endeavor and/or launching the endeavor?” And, for me, I usually will do an electional chart for all of them, or at least I’ll pay attention to an electional chart for all of them in the different steps along the way, so I do think it’s important.
But it becomes the ‘conception versus birth’ argument that goes back to Ptolemy where you have the conception chart and the birth chart, and he says the conception chart is primarily the chart that will tell you how the gestation process will go—so how that eight or nine months will go from conception to birth and the success or failure of that process and if there are any major problems along the way—versus when the person is actually born. That is the symbolic start of their life and the chart cast for that moment is gonna be the one that’s most relevant in terms of indicating information about their future, so I would look at it in those different contexts. And that’s what I did, for example, with my book. I had an electional chart for the start of writing my book, and then I had an electional chart for when we finally published it in February of this year. And those are different things that have different purposes, so that’s part of the way that I would look at it. But oftentimes when I look at a major project like that, it’s not just picking one chart, but I’ll try to pick a few that I can use for the different phases of that project.
Let’s see—yeah, she asks a number of others. So the magic one was, “It’s not enough to begin an endeavor, but one has to finish it within the elected timeframe for it to be worthwhile.” That was one of her last questions. I think it’s tricky and there’s different debates about that. It’s, like I said, having an electional chart for the different phases of the project, but it’s usually the starting point. It’s when you begin doing that thing that is the symbolic inception of the event and that’s what you traditionally cast the electional chart for.
AE: I think you get into a lot of interesting paradoxes as well. When we’re asking about doing something within an elected time, otherwise you’ll get a different result or what have you, the problem with that is that if you complete something within any kind of prescripted, magical timeframe there’s no way of knowing what would have occurred had you not. And so, any argument about prescripted time periods, sort of like a window in which something must be done, are never really falsifiable. If you wait till afterwards and it doesn’t work, you also can’t be certain that it would’ve had you done the thing within the timeframe. So a lot of these kinds of questions I think that the paradoxes and things that they bring up are really interesting philosophically. My gut reaction—not spending a lot of time in electional—it’s like horary. There are funny things in William Lilly’s Christian Astrology, which is a great standard horary textbook.
There are charts where we now know that Lilly’s ephemeris was off. There are very technical elements of his charts where there’s an application of one planet to another, and it’s part of his judgment and it’s part of the success of the judgment; we’ve come to find out the planets are actually separating. And in horary that’s like a big deal. It’s like if it’s separating, the connection’s done; it’s over. He wouldn’t have read it that way, but somehow the cosmos accommodates the ephemeris that he had or the calculation that he made. That was kind of the point of Geoffrey Cornelius’ book, The Moment of Astrology. I don’t ever like to go too far with that ‘cause I think you can use that as a crutch; you could end up just massaging astrology, again, to get it to say what you want.
AE: But there are enough funny paradoxes like that that I think we see often enough. Probably electional, I imagine, philosophically, is one of the ripest grounds for debate about these kinds of nuances.
CB: Yeah. I would just say in terms of the falsifiability thing that it is harder from the end result if you’re just looking at a one-off event and you’re the receiver of the election who’s getting it from an astrologer. But that’s one of the reasons why I would recommend astrologers to get something like Solar Fire and have it running in the background and pay attention to it when important or semi-important things happen in your life; look at the chart for that moment. You will get a sense after seeing enough repetitions of, “Oh, somebody sent me this email where they were angry at me when Mars was in the 7th house,” or “Oh, I got this bad news this other day about some violent thing that happened and Mars was in the 7th house again.” Seeing repetitions over and over again, over a long enough period of time of certain placements, you start to get a sense for what types of things are more likely or what types of outcomes are more typical when certain things are aligned in certain ways.
That’s where the falsifiability comes in. It’s the astrologer’s awareness of the tendency for how certain placements will manifest if you put them in certain event charts or certain inception charts or electional charts. Obviously it’s not the full falsifiability that you would otherwise ideally want, and that’s the difficulty of testing astrology in general, but it’s at least something in terms of the astrologer’s experience and the knowledge that they draw on when trying to pick one electional chart versus another.
AE: Yeah, it is true. I mean, when you’re looking at the ticker, the astro clock—I write a daily column, as you know—every day I’m looking at the planets and you track that through your chart. I feel like sometimes in modern astrology I was used to only tracking Pluto, Uranus, and Neptune across the angles or in squares or oppositions to natal planets or something. But actually Venus’ three-day application and separation—or four-day or something like that—to the ruler of your financial house, I pay attention to that now because it really does show up. Like I’ll get a bigger client or something like that where a little bit of a windfall will come in. Yeah, I think the key thing that I take from what you just said is paying attention to the ebb and flow of astrological circumstances, you develop something of an instinct for when to do things. And I guess the natural extension of that practice is in some ways elections. Is that what you would say?
CB: Yeah, to some extent, just in terms of there’s different approaches. There’s some astrologers that will take more of an extreme free will approach where their explicit purpose is to change their future and make things better than they otherwise would’ve been, and most people are approaching electional astrology under that premise, and that’s fine and that’s okay. There’s another approach though that’s not completely different, but it’s a little bit different of a perspective where it’s a process of looking at the charts and knowing when you make important decisions that if I act now, this is gonna be the likely outcome. And that’s more similar, going back to Stoic philosophy—that shows up in natal astrology in the Hellenistic tradition—of just using astrology in order to have a greater understanding and awareness of one’s fate and where things are going in your life and what your overall life narrative is, as you’re acting and as you’re making choices and decisions. It doesn’t remove the necessity of making those decisions, but it can give you a greater sense of perspective on the actions that you’re taking at any given moment in time. And there’s something about that that I think is useful and that is helpful, not just in a practical sense, but in almost a philosophical or some other sense, I guess.
AE: Right, yeah.
CB: So the final thing that Neva Welton says is, “I’m mostly wondering because working with elections, as trick as it is, one can’t live their entire life or advise others to wait a month-and-a-half for a more ideal election to apply for a job, go on a trip, take a tough meeting, or go on a blind date. Life has to happen. So any insight into the best strategies for different elections would be helpful.” And that actually is all I would say about that—life has to happen. Electional astrology is not typically something where I tell people to put off their life or put off what needs to be done just based on astrological circumstances, but most of the time it’s just making the best of the available timeframe that you have.
And really the tricky part about electional astrology is not going out of your way to do something completely different and putting off an event for 10 years until you can get some sort of ideal electional chart, but instead it’s just learning to work with the best out of what you have available and maybe shifting something forward a few minutes, or backwards a few minutes, or bumping something forward an hour or backwards an hour; little, minor changes that can sometimes make a big difference. To me, that’s more of what electional astrology is about. It’s like these slight ways to optimize things rather than this radical departure from what you would otherwise do. All right, so I think that’s it. So somehow we did it, and we plowed through all of the questions, or all of the rest of the questions that I’ve been trying to get through since I received them in late September. So thanks for hanging in there, and thanks for joining me for this today, Adam.
AE: We did it.
CB: I’m a little surprised because we went on for about 50 minutes on the first question, but I think we did a good job catching up after that.
AE: Oh, yeah. Thank you for having me. I’ve loved being here. This is really cool.
CB: Yeah, this was great. And you’ve got a microphone, a different microphone, and it sounds great. So thanks for going the extra nine yards or whatever it was to do that, and I definitely look forward to having you on again sometime to do it again. Do you have any events coming up in the future? Anything you’re working on that we should let people know about?
AE: Oh, thank you. Yeah, so my new class—I have a one-year online natal course that begins next Tuesday night, on the 28th of November. It meets 32 times in the year on GoToMeeting. So people can check that out on my website, nightlightastrology.com. I write a daily horoscope there. I write daily horoscopes 300+ a year. And every year of the last 40 days of the calendar year, I sort of go into fundraising mode and a little bit of fasting and prayer to center for the next year of writing. So right now I’m fundraising through Kickstarter, which is basically sort of like the Patreon drives that you do, trying to drive up subscribers to our projects as astrologers. So I do a Kickstarter every year. I’m in the middle of that right now. People can donate and receive different gift readings and stuff like that if they want to, and they can check that out. If you go to my Facebook page, Adam Elenbaas, or if you go to nightlightastrology.com and scroll down a little bit, you’ll find plenty of links to the Kickstarter videos and stuff like that.
CB: All right, brilliant. Yeah, so people should check out your website at nightlightastrology.com. And thanks for joining me today.
AE: Thanks a lot.
CB: All right, and thanks everyone for listening. That’s it for this episode, so we’ll see you next time.