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The Astrology Podcast

Ep. 185 Transcript: Answering Astrology Questions from Twitter

The Astrology Podcast

Transcript of Episode 185, titled:

Answering Astrology Questions from Twitter

With Chris Brennan and guests Austin Coppock and Kelly Surtees

Episode originally released on December 22, 2018


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: theastrologypodcast@gmail.com

Transcribed by Andrea Johnson

Transcription released August 14th, 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 Wednesday, December 19, 2018, starting at 3:28 PM in Denver, Colorado, and this is the 185th episode of the show. In this episode I’m gonna be talking with Kelly Surtees and Austin Coppock, and we’re gonna be answering some questions from listeners of the podcast that have been submitted over the course of the past few days. 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. Hey, guys, thanks for joining me. Long time, no see.


KELLY SURTEES: Hi, I missed you guys.

AC: It’s been a month.

CB: It’s been a month. Yeah, and we were doing like a lot of episodes back-to-back together, especially when we were doing the zodiac series for those two months. And then suddenly Austin left the country.

KS: Austin abandoned us.

CB: Yeah, so we’re partially doing this episode to separate it from the forecast episode this year—where we’re gonna talk about the entire year ahead of 2019—so we can hear about Austin’s trip, catch up on some other stuff that we’ve been working on over the course of the past few weeks since we last recorded an episode in mid-November, and also answer some questions from listeners of the podcast that largely came in over Twitter over the past few days, since astrology on Twitter has really exploded over the past year or so. So, first, where should we start? Kelly, you have one thing coming up. You just discovered that you’re speaking in Seattle soon, in January, right?

KS: Yeah, you know how you think, “Oh, that’s happening in January. January’s ages away?”

CB: Unlike 2019.

KS: 2019, that’s a whole other year, yeah.

CB: People will be riding like hoverboards by then.

KS: Exactly, exactly. And then you think, “That’s three weeks from now.” And it’s like, “Oh, okay, Seattle, here we come!”

CB: Right.

KS: So I’m doing a full-day workshop for the WSAA Group, the Washington state astrology group there, on relationships in astrology. So we’re gonna do natal chart, you know, how do we work out what relationship patterns and stories and experiences are, but also timing. What does it look like in the chart when you have a major relationship event, like a breakup, or meeting someone, or all the iterations of love? So that’ll be really fun.

CB: Brilliant. Yeah, people should—especially if you live in the Washington/Seattle metro area—take this as an opportunity to go check out the WSAA Group. Because I’ve actually run into a surprising number of astrologers that live sort of close to Seattle that either don’t know about that group, the Washington State Astrological Association, or just haven’t visited yet. So this would be a good opportunity for them to.

KS: Totally. Yeah, it’s quite an active astrology community there in the Pacific Northwest. So, yeah, if you are able to get there, they’re a wonderful group. They meet monthly and they have speakers throughout the year. They do a few different workshop events. So, yeah, I mean, of course I’d love it if you could come in January. But if you can’t they will still be there in February, March and throughout the rest of the year.

CB: Yeah. And I’ve noticed there’s a few younger astrologers that express like not going to things due to social anxiety. But I’m hoping that some astrologers in that younger generation try to push through that and start attending some of these local groups. Because part of what keeps the astrological community vibrant is that those are sort of the staging areas for astrologers giving lectures and then eventually going to bigger conferences and giving talks as well, So it’d be good to keep those vibrant.

KS: A hundred percent, yeah. The grassroots connections with the community—they’re really helpful. But I understand what the new people coming in feel. Because when I was 19 or 20 and went off to the first astrology meeting in Sydney, I was probably the youngest there by many, many, many years, and I definitely felt out of place, but I was just so interested in the subject matter that that kind of connected me. So the awkwardness is real, but if you can still connect anyway it’ll be so good for your astrology experience.

CB: Yeah, definitely. And this actually came up recently in a discussion about written reports versus verbal consultations because I forgot that a lot of newer astrologers—they start off doing written reports ‘cause that’s actually more comfortable if you’re still getting your sense of how to do delineations for people. Sometimes people feel more comfortable writing out like a 10-page delineation or what have you versus setting up a time to talk to another person. I’ve been trying to encourage people to make that transition to actually like talking to clients verbally because both sides really get a lot more out of it. Did you guys do written reports, ever? Or did you always do verbal consultations first?

AC: I did verbal first. But in the early days of trying to be a full-on professional astrologer I kind of thought I was supposed to do written, and I kind of went back and forth about that.

CB: Okay. ‘Cause you were doing the horoscopes right from the start, right, or writing some column? ‘Cause might because I always knew you from writing the ‘Baron’ column.

AC: Yeah. I was doing readings before that but it was that column that sort of transitioned me into being a professional astrologer ‘cause people would email me and say, “I want a reading right.”

CB: Right.

AC: Anyway, yeah, I would obsess like crazy on trying to write the perfect report, and I’d spend like six hours on them and not be happy. And so, I quit doing that.

CB: Yeah. Kelly, did you do written reports at any time?

KS: Oh, yeah, but I somehow missed the bit where I thought it was something we were supposed to do. And I’m such a chatterbox, I was just happy to talk with people about astrology, which is what I had always wanted to do, but I used to get a lot of requests. And actually even today I still get requests, maybe only a couple every six months, but clients do like the written report. But I used to do a couple of them, maybe in the first three or four years of my practice. And then, like you, Austin, I was just like this is taking—it wasn’t efficient. It took so long that the amount of hours you put into writing the report versus having the conversation about the information in the report, just from a business sense, I was like, “This isn’t viable. I’d have to charge you like five times the price of a consult if you want me to write it up for you instead,” and of course nobody wants to pay that.

AC: Yeah. One of the things I found difficult about a written report was that I wasn’t aware of what the person was understanding and what they were not understanding when I’m writing. When I’m in dialogue with someone, I can say, “If you get that then I can add this to it. And then if you get those two things then I can make this point,” to make sure that the person is seeing what I’m pointing at. But there’s a little bit of just, I don’t know, ‘writing into the void’, and I think that’s particularly the case for a more general chart reading. And I know some people do written reports for horary. And that makes a lot more sense to me ‘cause there’s a very definite question, and you can say based on ‘x’, ‘y’, and ‘z’ this is your outcome, as opposed to the entirety of a life described by a natal chart where it’s like, “I don’t know. What do I say? What do I not say?” This is a novel.

KS: Yes, exactly, I should have mentioned that. I used to do written reports when I did horary consults for people. I would do them written for exactly the reason that you’re saying they’re, Austin. It’s very topic-specific, situation-specific ‘what is the outcome of this situation’, which is easier to summarize in 500 words than, as you said, a person’s entire life. It’s not even a novel. It’s like a three-part series or something really.

CB: Yeah, that makes sense for horary ‘cause horary—it’s just like a few-paragraph response. But with natal—my belief is that most younger astrologers need to push themselves to move into doing consultations verbally, and they’ll look back on it and be thankful that they made that transition. Every professional astrologer I know is thankful that they did eventually make that transition because of those three points. Because written reports just take so much longer to do and you need to value your time. And the more consultations you do, the more you will eventually start to value your time, and therefore almost feel like doing written reports is a drag because it takes so long and it’s such a burden. It takes so much longer than it needs to or then it should.

KS: Yeah.

CB: Dialogues allow for immediate feedback, so you learn and grow faster as an astrologer. If you say something and it really hits with the client, they’ll tell you. If you say something and it’s like not quite there then you’ll hear that as well. And that’s really important as part of your growing and learning process instead of just talking to a wall or talking to your computer and then sending it out and not fully knowing how it’s hitting. And then, three, it’s better for the client ‘cause then they can ask you questions that they may not have thought of prior to the consultation. So they actually get more out of it than a written report ultimately.

KS: Completely, completely. I agree with every point you said, Chris, and I am on the same boat. And, in addition, I also know it’s a lot scarier to think about sitting down with a client in the beginning when you’re kind of new. So I’m like I know it’s scary, but it’s okay. Still do it even though it’s really scary because the fastest way to accelerate your astrological development is to sit in session with people. And if you have a lot of worries about getting it wrong or saying the wrong thing, set yourself up as an apprentice astrologer. Let your clients know that you are doing the final stages of your training, and you want to have a dialogue with them. Maybe you charge a little bit less.

There’s a number of ways you can take some of that internal pressure that you feel. Your client’s not feeling that pressure, they are just desperate for anything that you can share with them. And it doesn’t have to be a super-complicated configuration or a ‘dignity/debility’ situation. If you can just tell them what their Moon sign is, or what their Ascendant sign is—some of those things that we think are so basic—to somebody who’s never heard about them before, they’re absolutely eye-opening, massive insights. So I think sometimes we get in our own way a little bit. And I agree, get into the consult room as soon as you’ve got enough knowledge under your belt, basically.

CB: Yeah. And everybody has some social anxiety going into it, except for like the most extroverted person, but even then you would. So I don’t not relate to that, but it’s just something that would be good to push through ‘cause you’re gonna improve yourself more as an astrologer. It’s gonna benefit you as an astrologer more in the long term, as well as your clients. So that’s my soapbox about.

KS: Totally.

CB: Side note. We haven’t even gotten to the Q&A.

KS: Also, we have to ask Austin what he’s been doing.

CB: Briefly, I meant to say at the start of this, if there’s anybody that wants to jump forward to different questions or parts of this episode, there’s gonna be timestamps in the description page on The Astrology Podcast website, at theastrologypodcast.com. So that frees me from getting any hate mail from people that don’t like our long-and-winding style that we’re definitely going to be doing this episode.

KS: Today, yes. We should warn people at the start we’re doing long-and-winding now, so when we do our year ahead forecast there’s no long-and-winding.

CB: Right, exactly. Okay, a few other preliminary things before we get to one of the main things I really want to hear about, which is how Austin’s trip went.

KS: We just want to hear from Austin.

CB: I don’t want to put it off too much ‘cause I just want to give it the time that it deserves as a follow-up to the last forecast episode, where we sort of just opened with that and jumped right into it.

KS: Yeah.

CB: All right, Austin, do you have anything that you want to mention or promote at the top of this before we get into some of that?

AC: Oh, I suppose I do. I also have a Patreon. I write stuff. I will publish my big, ‘year to come’ piece at some point before the year turns. I’ve been thinking about it for a couple months now and I’ve got a few decent ideas. You’ll hear some of them during our next episode. People can support me on Patreon if they want to support me. We do ‘fun stuffs’ like meetings, and people get all 30 days of my monthlies at once in a PDF at the beginning of the month rather than having to wait for them to come out on Twitter or whatever. I’m finally gonna release my podcast next week. I know I’ve been talking about that. I’ve got a few episodes in the can now and a few more planned. I was gonna maybe do it tomorrow, but I can’t do that and everything else. But there’s some decent elections next week as well. So I think I’m gonna do that.

CB: And will that be posted on your website?

AC: Yeah. If you follow my website or me on social media then I’ll do that.

CB: AustinCoppock.com, for those that don’t know.

AC: Mm-hmm. Yeah, just ‘my name’ ‘.com’. I do think what I’m gonna do with tomorrow’s election, which I like, is I think I’m gonna start an Instagram account. I might hate it.

KS: Oh, my God, I love this!

AC: But we’ll see. I can always delete it.

KS: You can. And you know what? Instagram loves pictures of your cat.

AC: I feel like Kait’s got that covered.

KS: You know what? There aren’t that many pictures, I’m sorry. She does let the team down on that front. Kait’s doing some great things on many fronts, but they are not enough cat pictures.

AC: Okay. Well, if I feel particularly moved. He does pose very well.

KS: Yes.

AC: And then I’m figuring out what my class schedule is gonna be like next year: what I’m gonna teach, what I’m not gonna teach. There are two things I know I’m gonna teach. One is I’m gonna do, for the first time, a year two sequel to my year one fundamentals, so that’ll be fun. It’ll be like timing methods and remediation and a couple other things. And then I’m actually going to teach a class on the relationship between tarot and astrology—

KS: Wow.

AC: Which is what I’ve been doing for literally twenty years now but never really taught before, so that’ll be fun. And I need to check my emails, but I believe I committed to giving a local talk here in Ashland, Oregon I want to say January 20, something like that.

KS: Yeah?

AC: Yeah, I’m pretty sure. I’m pretty sure that was confirmed.

KS: Who knows?

CB: Nice.

AC: So I’ll probably do that.

CB: So the Pacific Northwest is still a hotbed of astrology it sounds like.

AC: Yeah. I mean, you gotta remember I’m eight hours from Seattle here, and I’m five hours from Portland. I’m as close to San Francisco as I am to Portland. This town was literally built as a railway stop between Portland and San Francisco. And so, it’s kind of not the Pacific Northwest, but it is in that corner of the map, kind of.

KS: Yeah.

CB: Right.

KS: Oh, my gosh, Austin’s gonna join Instagram.

CB: Yeah, so let us know before I release this episode. I’ll put the link to whatever your Instagram name ends up being—not hashtag, but what your name ends up being.

AC: Okay.

CB: I’ll put a link to it on the description page for this episode.

AC: Okay, thanks. All right, brilliant. And the last thing before we get into everything that I needed to plug is I actually went ahead and did my 2019 Astrology Calendar posters again this year. I wasn’t sure if I was gonna do it, but Paula Belluomini and I came up with some designs. And they came out so well and so many people were asking about them that I decided to launch it again. And I’ve been sending out orders over the past few weeks and sort of like slowly rolling it out, but I think this is the first time I’ve actually announced it on an actual episode of The Astrology Podcast. So I just want to let people know that that is out there. And you can find out more information about them on theastrologypodcast.com/2019posters, and you’ll see the whole description and ordering and everything else. Have I sent you guys one yet? I guess I did last year but not this year.

AC: I haven’t received one.

KS: I mean, you might have sent them and they could be in the post. Canada Post is partially on strike right now.

CB: So the one I’m most excited about is the Planetary Alignments poster.

KS: Gorgeous.

CB; It’s just like the normal artwork I use for the monthly forecast episodes, but it shows you all 12 months and it tells you when planets change signs, the exact day there will be a lunation, when planets station retrograde or direct. So you can track things like Mercury retrograde, and it’s just super, super useful. So people can find out more information at theastrologypodcast.com. And that is it for my plugs I think, and all of our plugs for the beginning of this episode, so let’s get into it. So, Austin, we heard your Mercury retrograde saga recounted in detail at the beginning of the last forecast episode, which we actually recorded before you left town in mid-November. But I didn’t release that episode until later in the month when you were already like halfway through your journey or like right in the thick of it. So for people who haven’t heard anything about that or have not been following you on social media since mid-November, what was the outcome of that? Did you make it to Australia, ultimately?

AC: Yeah, I got the passport. Yeah, there was a happy ending to the pre-retrograde nightmare. You know with transits there’s always—

CB: So it was the positive retrograde version of you just had to push through, and there were setbacks and obstacles, but through perseverance things did pan out positively.

AC: Yeah, through great expense and expenditure of energy.

CB: Right.

AC: And micro heart attacks. Mercury was retrograde during pretty much the entirety of the trip, and there were elements of that which were entirely expected in the sense that, “Oh, this is my first time in this hemisphere. I’ve never been here before. I don’t know how things work. Some disorientation is to be expected.” However, that retrograde stationing as it did square Neptune, and in its detriment and square Mars, multi-afflicted, was pretty fast and furious. There was something pretty much every day. The internet doesn’t work here. There’s a problem with our international service that we got for the phone, so we can’t call the Uber. This flight is late. This thing is off-schedule. When we were recording the So Below event—which I went down there for the event in Melbourne with Gordon White—one of the cameras that was recording I think went out three times in the middle of it.

KS: Oh, my goodness.

AC: There were multiple cameras, so it got stitched together beautifully, but there was just something almost every day for a while. And it made me reflect on the fact that when you have a planet that’s iffy—like Mercury having all that going on and being retrograde—when you place yourself in Mercury’s hands by traveling internationally and then being in a city where you don’t know where anything is, you don’t know how things work, you need to call cars to go anywhere, etc., etc., you’ve very much placed yourself at the mercy of Mercury.

KS: Yeah.

AC: And so, it was a way of leaning into it. I don’t regret it because the timing was correct for more important reasons.

KS: Yeah.

AC: We definitely had to pay the toll. Mercury took his little pound of flesh just about every day.

CB: Right.

KS: I did hear some stories about Uber situations and bags being forgotten in places, and people not being where they needed to be and then not being able to get in touch with them in late night situations.

AC: Yeah.

CB: Yeah, it’s so funny ‘cause it seems like the Mercury retrograde—we talked a lot about the perseverance aspect, but it’s like this fine balance between perseverance and pushing forward despite obstacles to overcome them, but also sometimes just letting go and realizing when some things are out of your hands and you just need to allow things to happen however they’re gonna happen.

AC: Yeah, just letting things not go according to plan. So one thing that that happened again this time, that’s happened to me during several other Mercury retrogrades, on the plane ride over, which was 17 hours, I figured I might be able to get a little writing done, and there’s supposed to be an outlet at my seat that I could plug my laptop into. Well, there was an outlet—except just the outlets in Kait and I’s seats were broken and so I couldn’t charge my computer. And so, I was like, “Shit.” I had a month of dailies, and I had a monthly piece about the Sun’s time in Sagittarius to write. And so, I ended up writing the Sun in Sag piece in a notebook by hand, which is something I’ve had to do during other Mercury retrogrades, and it was not at all what I’m normally doing with the monthlies.

Usually they’re pretty structured and ‘forecast-y’ with some metaphor and hopefully some insight, but they’re more calendrical; whereas, this one, I was not even trying to do that. I was taking a single theme and going off on it, and it was a piece that many people told me they absolutely loved. And that’s happened to me before during Mercury retrogrades where I literally was gonna say, ‘go off book’, but ‘off keyboard’, and end up needing to write in a book. And it’s not what I’m normally doing piecewise, but it ends up being something that really hits home. So that’s one example of one of the things that happens during Mercury retrogrades where it works better if you abandon the standard plan.

CB: Yeah, adapt, stay flexible.

AC: Yeah. So we spent a week in Melbourne, a week north of Auckland in New Zealand, and then a week on a farm in southern Tasmania. And I still have a farmer’s tan.

KS: Oh, my gosh, you totally do.

AC: Can you see that?

KS: Yes.

AC: I got absolutely fried in Tasmania. I didn’t know about—

KS: The lack of ozone.

AC: Yeah. And so, I was just sitting on the porch with Gordon. We recorded a podcast maybe two-and-a-half-hours, and I just got absolutely fried on my right arm. The whole thing peeled. So on the way back—again, you’ve got a lot of time to think on the plane—it occurred to me, one, this trip was in part business in the sense that there was an event down there that we set up, which went beautifully by the way. We ended up sticking maybe 50% astrologers, 50% wizards in the same room, made them listen to us for a couple hours, and then gave them all the wine and beer and food that they could handle for the next four or five; and I think that there was some gelling that happened that we hoped would happen. So obviously I went down there for that, but I also went down—

CB: Really quickly—the recordings of which are available on Gordon’s website, runesoup.com, right?

AC: So we kept the recording as a treat for his premium members and my Patreons.

CB: Okay.

AC: And so, we’ve got an audio/video full recording for anybody who decides to be among the privileged few.

CB: Nice. And I saw on Twitter and stuff that you met a lot of Astrology Podcast listeners that I recognized from seeing online or from Twitter or Facebook or other places that you actually got to meet in person.

AC: Yeah, yeah. I got to see a few old friends. Shoutout to Cassandra. I got to meet, yeah, podcast listeners. I also got to meet one of my students in my yearly class. Shoutout to Scarlet who’s been waking up for my 11:30 AM Pacific Time class in Australia. Depending on the time zone, or depending on Daylight Savings, that was either a 5:30 or 6:30 AM class; I had no idea.

KS: Yeah.

AC: But she’d been waking up and attending all year round, so that was great to meet her.

CB: Nice.

AC: Yeah, quiet dedication. Who doesn’t respect quiet dedication, right?

KS: Solid.

AC: But, yeah, God, I met so many people. It was such a whirlwind. So I had a point with my horrible farmer’s tan. I went down there as partially a reward for making it through the absolutely ‘shit’ transits that I’ve had this year which have been nailing my profected planet—which ended like two days before I was due to fly down—and the trip was in many ways exactly the medicine I needed. I had a good time, but it was the last few days there that the changes I hoped for internally started taking place. And it was really interesting to note that the North Node is exactly conjunct my Ascendant and Jupiter—it has been for the last couple weeks—and I look down and I’m literally shedding skin, as a serpent sheds skin.

KS: Yeah.

AC: And I don’t really go out in the Sun—not that you could tell—but I literally can’t remember the last time I had a sunburn. I don’t think I’ve peeled since I was a kid and just ran around all day in the Sun, so it was really interesting. It’s not something that you would predict as an astrologer and be like, “Yes, you will have an important sense of entering another phase and leaving old things behind and your skin will peel on the same day,” but that’s how it happened. You see the serpent symbolism of the nodes on the Ascendant/Descendant axis and physically resembling the serpent at that moment.

KS: Yeah.

AC: It was a nice way to conclude it. I don’t know, it was a huge and wonderful time. Thanks of course to Melbourne, Auckland, and Geeveston, Tasmania for hosting me. And thanks to Aaron Cheak for hosting me in New Zealand, and Gordon White for hosting me in Geeveston.

CB: Brilliant. Yeah, that sounds amazing. You


got to see a lot of cool people—

AC: Oh, yeah.

CB: And catch up with a lot of people. I mean, Aaron Cheak edited my book Hellenistic Astrology of course. And, Kelly, I don’t know, you may be working with him at some point in the not-too-distant future.

KS: Yes, yes. Aaron and I are gonna do a book together too.

CB: And he’s actually also publishing Demetra’s book, which they are in the process of trying to push out this month and doing some final, last-minute editing and things on, but it will be out in the next few weeks. And I have an interview with Demetra that’s actually in the can that I’m gonna release as soon as the book comes out that I actually recorded last month, but hopefully that’ll be out pretty soon.

AC: Awesome.

KS: And you got to meet Saturn in Capricorn while you were with Aaron, I think, or with Gordon.

AC: Aaron lives in this—it’s hard to describe. It’s like he lives in this thing that’s sort of a former retreat center that is functioning as an artist collective/small organic farm. There were rock-and-roll musicians there. There were painters living there. There was a documentarian there. And then there’s Aaron, the independence book publisher and scholar of alchemy. So it was a pretty wild kind of mix. He just said that he had a room we could stay in. But, yeah, there was a super angry goat named Timmy there, and I went and I went a few rounds with Timmy. Kait got some good Timmy footage. Timmy just basically tried to headbutt me in the nuts over and over again for about 10 minutes straight.

KS: I didn’t notice the ‘nuts’ spot, but it looked like he was going for your legs or something.

AC: Yes, I strategically relocated my nuts.

KS: Probably smart.

AC: Yeah.

KS: Those horns looked pretty menacing.

AC: Yeah. He would do this little side move, and I was like, “Mm, that might be a little ‘stabby’. I don’t think I want to get stabbed in the groin or loins.”

KS: Anywhere in that region.

AC: But it was fun. I don’t have enough contentious goats in my life. And there were some very fancy chickens. I’m not sure what kind of chicken they were, but they were much fancier than normal chickens.

KS: Much prettier.

AC: Yeah, much prettier. Gordon has chickens, but they’re kind of the stupid normal kind.

KS: The regular kind. Oh, that’s great. So glad you got to just be with the wildlife and the animals.

AC: Oh, yeah, it was awesome. I got back less than a week ago and had to hit the ground running like literally the next day, write all day—work, work, work, work, work. And so, I don’t think I’ve really processed everything yet.

KS: No.

AC: I have like 20 emails that I’d like to write to people to be like, “Hey, it was really good to meet you,” etc., etc., but that’s fine. If you’re one of those people, it’s not that I didn’t like meeting you, it’s just that the last month has been just an absolute tsunami of experiences.

KS: Yeah.

CB: Yeah.

KS: Something you said, Austin, I thought was a really good sort of Mercury retro point, you said, “Yeah, it was there we had to pay the toll to Mercury,” but there were larger reasons, you know, bigger other things going on that made it important to still go. ‘Cause I think a lot of the questions we get about Mercury retrograde—it’s like people have drilled down onto just the Mercury retrograde instead of what else is happening. Because that other thing that’s happening might be larger or more significant and directing you, and you just need to deal with Mercury as part of that process.

AC: Yeah, yeah, exactly. I went there for Jupiter reasons.

KS: Yes, exactly.

AC: I knew that even though there was the square to Neptune and the square to Mars that Mercury would make it back to Jupiter.

KS: Yeah.

AC: And I was like, “It’s fine. That’s what I need.” And so, ‘Jupiter’ goals were achieved, it was just paying the Mercury price along the way.

CB: Definitely. Well, that sounds great.

AC: Oh, one thing I will say, Melbourne, that was the longest string of consecutively amazing meals of different cuisines I’ve ever had. Like wherever we went, no matter what kind of food it was, it was fucking amazing. What a good food city.

KS: Yes.

AC: That, by the way, set my standards for Australian food in general way too high, and the rest of the trip did not quite—

KS: Didn’t deliver. Didn’t live up to it.

AC: No, no. I just want to say one more thing on the Mercury retrograde and the trip thing. Australia and New Zealand are a part of the Anglosphere. Everybody speaks English, it’s not that different, but it’s like somebody kicked reality and it’s 10% different. And because so much is the same, the 10% that’s different is really disorienting.

KS: Yes.

AC: But anyway—

KS: Yeah—

AC: Go ahead.

KS: Oh, it is. I mean, when you were describing ‘paying the toll’, I was like, “Oh, yeah, ‘cause the cars go down the other side of the street basically.” I know when I first came to Canada, I felt like I was in a tennis match when I was trying to cross the road because you don’t realize how unconscious and instinctive it is which way you look when you cross the road for instance; and then to have to constantly be correcting, it does take a little bit more mental energy. And that piece where everything is mostly the same but a little bit different, it’s more discombobulating than when things are just completely different.

AC: Right.

CB: Cars driving the other way down the road is a great metaphor for Mercury retrograde. I really like that.

AC: Yeah, and the seasons are opposite, right? You’re like, “Oh, now the cars are driving on the other side of the road. Now it’s spring.”

KS: Yes. “Yeah, we flew for 17 hours in a tiny metal box and all of a sudden it’s springtime.”

AC: Yeah, and on the way there you basically lose an entire day, right? We left on Monday, the plane took off on Monday and then landed on Wednesday.

KS: Wednesday morning.

AC: It’s like, okay, what happened to Tuesday?

KS: It’s just gone.

AC: And then what was fun was on the way back, you get it back.

KS: You land in LA before you have actually left Sydney, like the time—or Melbourne.

AC: Yeah, yeah, yeah. And so, from planetary days and hours, I saw two sunrises on the day of Mercury in a row, right?

KS: Your two Wednesdays, yeah.

AC: Yep. And we were up at sunrise ‘cause we had to be.

KS: Yeah.

AC: And, interestingly enough, those were fantastically productive writing days.

KS: Yes. Oh, so good.

AC: Oh, and another Mercury retrograde moment related to that.

KS: One more final thing.

AC: Yeah, piggybacking on the cars going the wrong way—or the opposite way, it’s not wrong. I got used to that pretty quick, but I kept looking to identify the driver of a car on the right-hand side, and they’re on the left-hand. And so, I saw a cab, and we needed a cab, so I went and knocked on the window of what I think of as the driver’s side, and I’m like, “Hey, are you driving? Are you taking fares?” And I was talking to a passenger who was sitting in the front seat because that’s the passenger side. And he just looked at me like—

KS: “What?” I love it.

CB: Yeah, well, thanks for the update. It sounds like a good trip. And people can check out the recordings from all of that, like you said, on your Patreon, or on Gordon’s private paid service for his podcast.

AC: And, also, our moderator, Avalon, Avalon’s patrons also have access to the recording. Avalon Cameron, I think. I should know her last name. But anyway, Avalon is just such a memorable name. If you remember that the rest doesn’t matter, right?

KS: Yeah.

AC: Yeah, she’s got a Patreon, and she does a lot of, I don’t know, sort of practical witchery and is the creator of a tarot deck and reads for people. So you can also get it through Avalon.

CB: Awesome, great. All right, let’s keep moving. We have like 30 questions to answer today. There was one other piece of news. Because it’s been basically a month, and usually in the forecast episodes I mention general community stuff that’s happened, there’s actually a couple of major deaths that occurred over the past few weeks that I wanted to mention really briefly in this episode, one of them was that Robert Schmidt passed away on December 6. And he had had a stroke actually in mid-November, I think on the 16th and was in the hospital for a few weeks and then passed away on December 6. He was notable of course as being one of the founders or the head architect of Project Hindsight. So he was a really important and influential astrologer for the whole traditional astrology movement and revival over the past 20 years. And he was actually one of my personal teachers that I lived with for a couple of years when I lived at Project Hindsight. And I know, Austin, you came out and had your first astrology conference in 2006 at one of the Project Hindsight conclaves that I invited you out to.

AC: Absolutely.

CB: Yeah, so that was a really big deal. And I’ve been processing that and that’s been a whole sort of thing over the past month. And then sadly, just two days after Schmidt died another major astrologer and leader in the community also passed away, which was Donna Van Toen who passed away on December 8, 2018. And that was kind of a big shock to the community as well because she had just finished like a really successful and probably one of the biggest—

KS: It was the biggest.

CB: It was the biggest SOTA astrology conference in October, right? And you were there, Kelly?

KS: Yeah. Donna was diagnosed with cancer a few months prior to the conference. So I don’t know that it was public—it wasn’t a secret. But if you were interacting with her you sort of were aware. She was pretty outspoken on Facebook. But the SOTA event—Donna started that event basically. It used to be a conference that ran in Toronto every year, and for just cost reasons she moved it across the border actually less than 10 years ago. Because the first time I attended SOTA in 2009, just after I moved to Canada, it was still in Toronto. I think the next year she went over to Niagara Falls and then to Buffalo. And it was a huge event this year. There were almost double the normal attendees and a huge amount of new faces.

And a lot of the obituaries and comments that people have been writing about Donna referenced her great support of new and emerging astrologers. She would give anyone a go. If somebody spoke positively on your behalf, you could get a lunchtime speaking spot at SOTA and ‘test your metal’ type of thing. So she’d been very instrumental I know for myself and other astrologers, but she’s been active in the astrology Toronto community for more than 30 years. She was a great stalwart here. So it was very sad obviously to have her pass away. And she went on her own terms and under her own steam, which is so Donna; she was a very strong forthright woman. But it was quite striking—I saw the news about Robert Schmidt having had his stroke, and knowing that Donna was unwell—it felt a little bit like this generational change. Very sad to lose some of those people that helped us get our start and trained us in the beginning.

CB: Yeah, I mean, that’s a lot of what I’ve been processing. Because then at the same time I’m seeing just this huge influx of younger astrologers coming into the community through places that were previously not as active, like on Twitter. I’m just seeing tons of astrologers getting their start in their teens and 20s; like they’re just coming out of the woodwork. Something I almost always kind of feared or knew was gonna start happening at some point what just we’re starting to lose some of the Pluto in Leo generation who have been the established astrological community and have been many of our teachers since the 1960s and ‘70s, when that generation came of age and came into the astrological community and then eventually sort of took it over by the ‘80s and ‘90s. Some of them are starting to pass away and there’s this real feeling of like a shifting of the generations that’s weird for me to see, being in my 30’s, sort of in the middle of that.

KS: Yeah. And I couldn’t help but think back to UAC this year where one of the wonderful things that UAC does is they—I might get emotional, but that’s just me. They do an in memoriam section where they take a moment—I can’t remember—I think it’s in the closing ceremony where they post a picture of all the astrologers that we have lost from our community. I know, Chris, you and I sat together for that this year and it’s just a wonderful way of honoring that sense of belonging that you do have in this community. And, yeah, the loss of Donna—and I didn’t know Robert as personally as you guys did, but I did know Donna. And it just reminded me we do belong, and we will mark those transitions, but there are transitions to be marked. I don’t know, it is interesting. It’s just hard to put into words I guess that shifting dynamic that it seems to indicate.

CB: Yeah. Well, it’s just good to recognize the contributions. And part of what I’ve been trying to do is just put together what I know and what I remember and to recognize the important contributions of astrologers. I mean, that’s part of what I’ve been trying to do on the podcast in scrambling to get some of the interviews that I’ve been getting over the past few years. ‘Cause I just remember when James Holden passed away in 2013, I always meant to do an interview with him, but I kept putting it off and just never did it. And then he passed away and I realized I’d lost the opportunity. So part of the past years for me has been trying to get some of those interviews of people that I know so you can pass on some of that knowledge to people just coming into the community that don’t know or haven’t had that direct experience with some of these figures.

Yeah, but Schmidt is somebody who hasn’t been as publicly active in the astrological community over the past 10 years. But without his work in translating ancient texts in the 1990s the revival of Hellenistic astrology wouldn’t really have happened and certainly wouldn’t have happened as quickly did or made such a huge impact on the astrological community as it did. So, yeah, there’s a lot to be said there, and I don’t want to make this like an entire episode about that. And I hope at some point in the future I can do some specific episodes to recognize the work of some of those astrologers more and go into more detail. But I did want to at least mention that that had happened because it was a major community event and loss.

KS: Yeah. I don’t know. I feel like we could keep going, but I know we have other intentions, other comments, I guess.

CB: Yeah, definitely. All right, so with that mentioned, and with all of those preliminary things out of the way, let’s move on to what I guess is the main purpose of this episode. We put out a call for questions and we ended up getting a lot, especially on Twitter, because Twitter, like I said, has just become hugely active for astrologers over the past like year or two; it’s just exploded. And as a side note to that I would really recommend, if there are any astrologers listening, to start an account on Twitter if you don’t have one and start interacting and adding other astrologers there because there’s actually some really great discussions taking place. And I know sometimes in different communities people complain about discussions being too shallow or not good or maybe even promoting stereotypes or things like that. But I’m actually consistently more impressed by the level of some of the discussions that are happening on places like Twitter and other places online than I am disappointed. And it’s kind of exciting to see that especially with this new generation of astrologers just coming in. So we got a bunch of questions from them, from Twitter. So we’re just gonna go through and try to bang out a bunch of these as quickly as we can, and hopefully not get stuck on them. They’re all like really interesting questions, so we could easily get stuck on some of them, but we’re gonna try to get through as many as we can. So should we start at the top?

KS: Let’s do it.

CB: All right, so the first question is from a Twitter user named @saturnsunastro who’s actually new and actually just signed up. I just recommended Twitter to her and she just started and has done some amazing posts over the past few days. But she’s a newer astrologer to doing consultations, and she had a question that was, “I’ve always wanted to know how other astrologers approached consultations where the client is deliberately unwilling to participate in a dialogue exchange. What, then, is your method of approach? Working in metaphysical shops, this was often the case.” So this is a really good question because this is actually something I discussed with Denis Harness in an episode just a few months ago, where that’s a specific type of a client that all astrologers will eventually run into. And there’s different reasons for it. I mean, one version of it is the client that wants to test the astrologer. And so, they’re kind of close-lipped because they want to see if you can interpret their chart correctly without them giving any feedback or anything like that to see how good you are or something like that. That’s like one variant or one version of it I think, right?

AC: Yeah.

KS: There is that type, yeah.

AC: I don’t know about y’all but I’ve kind of gotten a nose for that where I can tell that’s what they’re doing. And then you just kind of give them one thing that you couldn’t have possibly known that you’re correct about, and then one or two, and then they open up, and then you can actually begin the reading. And that’s different from people who are in a more casual setting, such as in a metaphysical shop, where you might get people who just want some entertainment. They’re not veiling their sincere question with a test, the entire point of the reading is a test. They don’t actually have a question or anything. And so, I haven’t had a client like that in a long time, and at this point I would just refuse to read for somebody. Like I’m not your monkey. You don’t just get to pay to see me dance. I do a thing where I’m trying to help you find answers to your questions and figure things out. I don’t know, maybe I’m a prima donna.

CB: No.

AC: I’m just like, no, unacceptable.

CB: Yeah. I mean, it partially goes back to the thing we’re talking about the beginning, which was the written reports thing. A lot of people—especially clients, but sometimes even astrologers—don’t realize that a consultation, the most effective way to do it is when there’s a dialogue because then that allows the astrologer to feel out the chart and calibrate or recalibrate their understanding of the chart based on the way that it’s actually working out for the person in their life to that point. So the astrologer goes in, they read the chart, they have a certain set of assumptions about what the placements mean and what this person’s life should be like. They make certain statements and ask questions about the chart. They then get feedback, and that feedback allows them to calibrate their understanding of the chart and to better fine-tune—not in a cold reading sense; we’re not cold reading you—in the sense of if you know the trajectory of something then you’re better able to make predictions about where it’s gonna end up in the future. And that’s one of the tricks to astrology, but that partially comes out through that dialogue process. And you can do it without the dialog. You could make statements, but it’s not gonna be as effective or as good if that calibration process isn’t there, or if that’s not available to you.

AC: Yeah, like the establishing of precedence, right? For example, okay, Venus retrograde in Scorpio does that every eight years. What happened last time? I find it helpful to know what something looked like up close and personal. I can say, “Okay, yeah, looks like there’s kind of a shitshow in your love life in August of 2015,” and if they’re like, “Yes,” but then if they tell me what that looked like that gives me more to work from.

CB: Right.

KS: A hundred percent. Yeah, I agree with what you are both saying. I don’t think it’s being a prima donna, Austin, just to say, “Look, this isn’t the kind of setting that I’m looking for.” I think it’s just knowing your practice boundaries and knowing what you will and won’t do. And once you’re established in practice, it’s easier to say, “I’m gonna turn this client away.” In the beginning you can often have that pressure of like, “I’m trying to get my business set up. I should be trying to work with them.” And so, there can be some different energy behind whether you’ve got the confidence to turn that kind away. ‘Cause I think you do get a nose for it and you can just go, “This isn’t gonna be the right person.” And I find I can even pick that up even just on email sometimes. And it’s hard to be explicit about “They said this (or they ask this question) and therefore it’s not gonna be a good fit,” but you just get that feeling. But then there’s another type of client who can be reluctant to participate in dialogue for some of their own reasons. Maybe they’re unsure, or they’re a little insecure, or they’re just an incredibly closed-book type of person.

AC: I was just gonna say that.

CB: Right.

AC: That’s absolutely another kind.

KS: Yeah. And part of the challenge is to figure out is this person just trying to make me dance like a monkey? And nobody wants that. Or is it just that it’s their nature to be maybe more soft-spoken or to be more reticent? And in those situations I tend to just continue with sharing some of the insights that I’ve got which is not necessarily as deep as I could go if they were interacting with me. But I find somewhere around the halfway point in this session that an otherwise reticent type of client can start to soften or open up. And then I’m realizing whether it’s shyness or nervousness from their end, they just needed a little bit more warm-up time. And so, at the point when they do soften and open, we drop in and we can go deeper. And I’ve just been able to share, ‘this this normally manifests like this’ or ‘this can typically look like that’. So it’s getting the confidence I guess to sort of figure out what type of reluctant client you are dealing with.

AC: Yeah, absolutely.

CB: Right. Just that process of building rapport as a crucial piece, especially early on in the consultation, that you work into or you build into. And part of the way of breaking through that then is to demonstrate and make some statements that are accurate about the person’s life as the astrologer; that’s part of sometimes what helps to break through that initial reservation that they may have. And eventually, as you get further into a consultation, ideally, if things go well, then that smooths out even if they’re a little bit more reserved at the start.

AC: Yeah.

KS: Yeah.

AC: Some people just want a few accurate statements and then they’re fine. And then some people, like Kelly was saying, just need a little help coming out of their shells. Sometimes people don’t want to sound stupid. And so, I don’t know, I just get very kind, supportive, Cancer rising.

KS: Yeah, we just do our water stuff. I can recall maybe one or two clients over the years where they just have not opened up in the entire session, and I just think, “Okay.” They’re only wanting to come in at a certain level; I can only meet them there. And, funnily enough, one of those clients emailed me six or seven months later to comment on how much they got out of the session and how insightful it was, even though at the time I remember thinking, “I’m not even sure if they’ve enjoyed this experience.”

CB: Right.

KS: And so, that was my stuff of like thinking maybe they might have let me know how it was going but they didn’t need to. And later on it turned out it was just a wonderful thing for them; they just couldn’t talk about it at the time.

AC: Yeah, I have those—

CB: Yeah, that’s the thing.

AC: Where afterwards I’m like, “I did good, right? I’m pretty sure I did my job. I did a good job.” Sometimes it’s much easier when you get the immediate response where someone’s like, “That was amazing,” and it’s very clear from the dialog that it was amazing. But, yeah, I’ll have to just have a quick talk with myself after a session like that.

KS: Yeah, yeah.

CB: So, ultimately, the thing is just trying to convey to them or maybe just spreading general awareness in the astrological community that consultations work the best, and they’re the most effective on the part of both sides as a dialogue. But, ultimately, you have to tell the client that “It’s your time. It’s your time, pal. So if you want to do this the most effective way we can do it. But if you want me to just talk at you without it being a dialogue then we can do that. It’s just not gonna work out as well as I could.” But it’s certainly up to the client.

AC: Yeah, and I tell people that pretty much at the beginning of every session.

CB: Right.

KS: Yeah.

AC: This is how to get the best reading from me.

KS: Yeah.

CB: Right. All right, I think that’s good for that question.

KS: Next question.

CB: Let’s move on.

KS: We did it.

CB: If we keep up this pace we will get through a few of them. We are now an hour into the episode. Next question, just going down the line, is by @marenaltman on Twitter. She says, “Business question: Do you all make most of your income directly from consultations or is it through teaching and other passive sources?”

KS: I love questions like this.

CB: Yeah, I mean, we all love business questions because of course we make our living as astrologers, it’s our trade and our craft, and it’s fun sometimes to talk about your trade with other practitioners and what works or what doesn’t. Actually before we move on with the last question really quick, I meant to mention Episode 168 with Dennis Harness was the one where we went into that area a little bit more. So listen to that episode for more about the previous question. About this one, Tony Howard and I talked about this a few months ago, and one of the points was that I do think most for astrologers their primary income is through doing consultations. However, I know the three of us have been doing a really good job, and it’s definitely a crucial piece I think of most contemporary, early 21st century astrologers, especially in our generation group, to develop other passive sources of income or other sources of income besides doing consultations as part of your overall business strategy as a professional astrologer, right?

KS: Yeah. Look, I’m very late to the ‘passive income’ game, so that’s only been a thing for me in the last couple of years. Like if I think what would I do differently, I would have worked on the passive income earlier, from the get-go. I was a real mix of teaching, writing, and consulting. In the last couple of years I’ve done a little bit less writing and I’ve had more passive income. But up until then it was teaching, writing, and consulting, and that the percentages would shift a little bit, but it could be 30/30/30. It could be 40/25/25. Sometimes I’d be doing a little bit more writing. Other times there’d be a few more consults or a few more teaching gigs, but I very much have earned from three different streams from pretty close to the start.

CB: Sure. And it doesn’t have to be completely passive. But even the fact that you were doing a lot of teaching and that you would make money from teaching is something you were doing to supplement and was a significant part of your income besides doing consultations, right?

KS: A hundred percent. And actually, for me, in the beginning, it was probably writing and consulting, and the teaching took a little bit to build up.

CB: Okay.

KS: I had a conversation with Kaitlin actually at UAC, and she was asking me a little bit about my origin or ‘getting started’ story with astrology, and I was running it through with her. Do you remember this, Chris? It was very late one night in the bar.

CB: I do. And I was also just thinking in the back of my head, “That’s a bingo square from the bingo thing.”

KS: There was a bingo? I didn’t even know. Okay, which one?

CB: Well, it’s from Lisa Arteray’s bingo square where one of them is like ‘we mention one of our significant others’.

KS: Oh, there you go. Okay, yes. I was like, “What did I say that was bingo?” I forgot. I need to review the bingo card. But, yeah, I had a conversation with Kaitlin, and I said, “Well, I did this, and then I got this writing gig, and then I got that writing gig.” So almost out of the gate with astrology I was able to earn what would have been like a starting salary if you’re in a corporate gig from writing because I had a couple of steady writing contracts in the beginning. And Kaitlin reflected back to me, “That’s not what normally happens for people, Kelly.” And I was like, oh, yeah, I guess having a writing contract that pays you a couple of grand a month fall in your lap, there aren’t that many of them, I guess.

CB: Right. And that was from doing the magazine, right?

KS: Yeah, this was when I wrote my daily love horoscopes for Vodafone, which is a cell phone carrier in Australia. So it was daily horoscopes but only about relationships, but something different for each sign. And that was definitely a writing test. But it was a steady gig, it was astrology, and it was a steady income. So I was like, “That’s gonna pay my rent and my bills.”

CB: And, I mean, that happens. I mean, we know different astrologers that have gotten those gigs. Like Annabel Gat writes the horoscopes for Broadly; just that like a few years ago. Who else do we know wrote or has gotten—I know Sam Reynolds has written four different places.

KS: Barry Perlman. Funnily enough, AstroBarry used to write for a weekly women’s magazine in Australia. That’s where I first encountered him.

CB: Okay.

KS: He was writing for one of those weekly glossies. And so, little gigs like that. And I actually was just really lucky. I had three or four of those different gigs. One would stop, and within six months I’d get another one. So the writing was a big piece for me to get some steady income while I built up the consulting practice, while I was looking to develop the teaching. But I know you guys had different experiences. So I think how listeners are really gonna enjoy hearing how we’ve all come to this from a different place.

CB: Yeah. Austin, is your primary income still consultations, or has that become less so over the years?

AC: So right now it’s a pretty even mix of writing and consultations and teaching, and those three levels kind of go up and down relative to one another but it’s ‘even-ish’. It might be like 35/40/30 or something. Never mind, those don’t add up to a hundred. That adds up to 105.

KS: But we get the gist.

CB: Yeah.

KS: My examples only added up to 90.

AC: Yeah, I didn’t get paid for writing until pretty far into it. I did a lot of writing for free. But the only reason people wanted to book a reading with me or knew that I existed was because I was writing.

CB: Right.

AC: I think as an astrologer, with very few exceptions, you should plan on writing, teaching, and reading.

KS: Yeah.

AC: And you may lean heavier on one than the other, or have a special love or talent for one rather than the other two, but that’s kind of what being an astrologer is.

CB: And substitute writing now for just generic content creation on some platform, whatever platform that is. Like just consistently putting out content or some sort of astrological content on that platform, whether it’s writing a blog, whether it’s writing a horoscope column, whether it’s doing YouTube or a podcast or Twitter. Like some people are developing entire followings just through consistently posting informative or interesting astrology posts on Twitter or other platforms, like Instagram. But, yeah, generating content I guess.

KS: Yeah, I was gonna say in the olden days it used to be writing a blog post, but now it’s like posting on your Instagram account or doing an Instagram Story.

CB: Yeah, ‘golden’ days of 2006.

KS: Right, exactly. Instagram Stories is huge these days. I agree with you, Austin. You want to almost come in at that sort of triple-threat level where you’re doing a little bit of a few different things. And they all feed each other.

AC: I mean, that’s the job, I would say.

KS: It is.

CB: Right.

KS: It’s just sharing your knowledge, and these are different ways to do it basically, and you’ll be able to monetize them. If you’re doing a Patreon-style blog, for instance, that’s gonna be small amounts of money that is residual and builds up over time. Your consult can be a larger amount of money, but it’s immediate and it’s one-off. So it’s just figuring out how you have to manage your cash flow.

AC: Yeah. And then with classes, record them and sell the recordings.

KS: Yeah, I would honestly say do that. Don’t wait 15 years to be in your business before you start doing that.

CB: And that was what you did. But you’re doing great now. I mean, you’ve got a huge catalog of both shorter recordings and individual audio recordings, which you sell for like $10 or $15 as a standard versus online courses. You have a bunch of pre-recorded ones, sort of like I have, and then other times you have live ones, like webinars. Which, Austin, I know that’s more your approach. You do more live classes, which you also record and then later release the recording as well.

AC: Yeah, yeah.

CB: Yeah.

KS: Part of that is the technology’s changed over the years that we’ve been doing this.

CB: Like rapidly.

KS: 10 years ago, when I first moved to Canada, and I was doing basic downloadable stuff, it was so complicated to have things available for auto-download on your website. And nowadays it’s so easy.

CB: Right. We’re all so old now that we’re just talking about technology issues from 10 years ago still, and the times have changed.

KS: I know.

CB: And, for me, I actually stopped doing consultations when I was writing my book two or three years ago ‘cause I saved up enough money to focus on the book. And then the podcast started taking off around the same time and Patreon was doing relatively well, in addition to having built up several courses over the years, which are partially passive income from people signing up to get access to video lectures or audio lectures, as well as some written content. But my case is kind of unique just ‘cause I have the podcast, as well as the courses. And so, I’m able to do that and I just focus on creating as much content as I can. To me, right now, it makes more sense instead of like sitting down and doing a one-on-one consultation for two hours with one person for $100 or $200 or whatever it costs to instead record a lecture in those two hours and then sell it to 10 people for $50 or $100 or what have you. And that’s been the direction I’ve been heading in more, although I need to realize that that’s somewhat unique. Usually that’s just a piece of most astrologers’ strategy or overall business approach.

AC: Mm-hmm. Oh—

KS: It’s—sorry, go.

AC: Oh, I was just gonna say books are worth mentioning.

KS: Yeah.

AC: Books are worth writing, but you’d have to write the next Linda Goodman’s Sun Signs to really have that be a significant portion of your income.

CB: Yeah, there’s still really an open question right now, ‘cause we’re in this weird middle phase with books, about whether books make sense to write to either financially or in order to establish yourself in the community in terms of your credibility and stuff. If it’s still worth it or not, or to what extent that really makes a difference, that’s kind of like an open question.

AC: I mean, you need a couple hundred pages to put out something that is dense and sophisticated and has real value. Blogs will never replace books.

KS: No.

AC: They can replace some books, but the world needs books. Books are not obsolete.

CB: Sure.

AC: They don’t make you a lot of money. They make some money, right? And it’s nice. Like my book money has always been, “Oh, that’s a nice supplement, and I’m glad that they’re selling.” But if anyone has the dream of becoming rich or even middle-class strictly through writing astrology books, you may need to adjust your fantasies.

CB: Yeah. And it’s worth noting all three of us established ourselves and have become relatively successful astrologers before we ever published an astrology book or without ever publishing an astrology book.

KS: I still don’t have one.

CB: Right. And it’s like it doesn’t matter ‘cause you’re doing keynote lectures, you’re consulting with like hundreds of clients a year. Like it absolutely does not matter publishing a book at this stage. And things have changed so much, whereas 20 or 30 years ago the way that you established yourself nationally and internationally was through writing a book, I feel like.

AC: I would say it still matters now for legacy.

KS: Yeah.

CB: Sure.

KS: And that idea occurred to me when we were referencing particularly Robert Schmidt earlier, his legacy. It is very sad that he’s not here anymore, but the legacy that he has left us with through the written work and the translation work that he did, that is we now have for eternity. It’ll go onto some digital file somewhere. Yeah, I mean, the one of the reasons that I haven’t written a book up until now is that I didn’t really have a lot of passive income and I needed to pay my bills.

CB: Right. You gotta keep going. Gotta keep generating content.

KS: Like the content. Yeah, I need stuff that’s gonna pay me. I need to get my monthly income or what have you. So I definitely still make a lot of my money from consults. So it’s consults and teaching right now for me. And I haven’t done as much writing lately and I’m desperately missing it, so I’m happy to get the book contract. But part of what is gonna give me the time for that is that there is a little bit of passive income now from the teaching sales that is happening, which will allow me to step back from consults for a little bit of time so that I can get into the guts of the very time-consuming, but very sou-fulfilling work of writing a book. Yeah, it just depends on your situation and whether you are working full-time right now and you can do some content creation that will become your passive income stream because you’ve already got money coming in, or whether you need to get money coming in pretty quickly, and then you’re gonna maybe make different choices about we start with.

CB: Yeah. But just—and then we could move on—that three-prong strategy that Austin mentioned, that’s probably still the core strategy.

KS: Totally.

CB: You’re gonna do consultations. You’re going to develop content and put out content and do content creation, and then try to, for a portion, also develop some passive income through lectures, reports, or something that you can sell that you put the work into initially and then you can sell it passively from that point forward. And if you do that sort of three-pronged strategy, I think that’s more or less what most astrologers are doing on some level or another.

KS: Totally.

CB: All right, good question. Let’s keep moving. So the next one is from @thestrology_ on Twitter. Actually I should mention this is Shakirah who just released the NFLUX astrology magazine. The very first issue of that just came out. I just got it in the mail the other day. And I wanted to show that off ‘cause it’s actually really cool. So this is what it looks like.

KS: Oh, gorgeous.

CB: It’s this gorgeous print, full-color magazine. And it’s got a whole section on things like horoscopes for the entire winter quarter or winter season, but also some really amazing articles and editorials. It’s got a nice calendar at the back with different astrological alignments and things like that. I would definitely recommend checking this out. I’m actually very excited about it. It’s at nfluxmag.com. So her questions—let’s pull up her questions which came in on Twitter—she said, “How did each of you discover your way of doing astrological readings? How did you come down to figuring out your method/system of prioritizing what to look at when presented with a client’s chart? How long did it take to solidify your method?” So what do you guys think? So you start doing consultations at some point. You started a little bit rocky. You’ve got your book knowledge, but then eventually maybe you’ve read charts for a few family members or friends. But eventually you start seeing clients, things start a little bit rocky, as it does for everyone I think. When or how long did it take to eventually solidify your method?

AC: Well, so I would differentiate my method from my approach. The methods or techniques that I use, I use everything that I’ve ever learned that is relevant to the client’s concerns. And I try to learn new stuff all the time, so that is in flux. My approach, just the angle or perspective and method, not method, but style of engagement is a more personal thing in that it’s more a result of your outlook on life and your way of relating to people and to astrology, and I would say that that’s something you simply discover with time. And if you’re comfortable with what your approach is, the techniques come and go, or mostly they pile up in my case. But I think that approach is more important than specific methods.

CB: Right. What do you think, Kelly?

KS: Yeah, I agree, Austin, in the sense that when you’re setting out to create your style, if you like, with chart reads, it’s not really something you consciously choose, like ‘my style is going to be’ or ‘my system is going to be this’. It sort of emerges organically as you do charts essentially. And so, I like the distinction you make, Austin, between what is the method or the technique that you’re using versus the way in which you might be delivering it or synthesizing it; that sort of personal piece. And the prioritization of what to look at, I mean, I think the question is sort of alluding to what exactly do you look at in what order. I don’t know if I’m reading the question right. But, I guess, the one piece that I always start with, that I’ve always started with, is the Ascendant and the Ascendant-ruling planet. And that’s a technique or a method piece, but it’s always made sense to me I guess to start at the beginning, a very good place to start, as The Sound of Music song tells us.

But the way in which that gets woven into the chart is fairly organic and there is a little bit of nuance. There’s a little bit of a different approach per chart; it depends a little bit on the client. I might have a style or a process that I’m comfortable working through. But I actually had a client this week where we started somewhere completely different ‘cause they had just mentioned something and we just went with where they were. So there’s a little bit of responsiveness. As long as I feel that I’m prepared for the chart I’m happy to kind of dive in based on where the client wants to go. So it’s very organic, I guess. I know when you’re learning you kind of want the process or the step-by-step, so I can appreciate why people ask this question essentially.

CB: Yeah, definitely. And it’s like—

AC: Go ahead.

CB: I was just gonna say I think it’s half-and-half. It’s like you’ve got your basic methods of the things that you really want to apply relatively consistently to every chart, which is like looking at the ruler of the Ascendant and where it’s placed in the houses and what sign it’s placed in in every chart that you look at. For me, it’s things like sect—looking at is it a day or night chart—and then what’s the most positive planet in the chart if it’s a day chart and what’s the most challenging planet if it’s a night chart. So it’s like you’ve got those things you can start with that you can apply consistently to every chart. But then the other half is gonna be random sort of things that you’ve picked up and learned over the years that are gonna come up sporadically on a case-by-case basis.

‘Cause not everybody’s gonna have that placement or not everyone’s gonna have that thing, so it’s not always gonna be relevant. But sometimes you’ll see a chart and you’ll see something either that you’ve seen before. And so, you have a specific idea of how it might work out that you’ve learned about in some context before that’s actually really relevant for some reason because it’s prominent in this person’s chart. And it’s some combination of those two, of like having the methodology or specific fixed methodology versus being flexible to just what presents itself in an individual consultation.

AC: Yeah, definitely. So I can’t imagine not looking at the Ascendant and what rules the Ascendant. I feel like that’s a given.

CB: That’s so funny though ‘cause that’s not a standard thing in modern astrology.

KS: No.

CB: That’s something we’ve all picked up from traditional astrology that was standard for like hundreds of years but it’s only being revived now, but it’s so useful.

AC: That’s unacceptable. So just thinking about what I do, what I’ve mostly done for, I don’t know, maybe the last five, six, seven years, I take in the chart, where everything is. I look at transits and profections and where they’re at in zodiacal releasing just to kind of get a framework on what part of life they’re in and what is emphasized in the natal chart. And then I generally end up kind of flowing and digging around in the natal chart for things that are particularly nice that when activated are gonna be really fortunate and happy periods. And I also look for the weak spot. I always look for, what’s the worst thing about this chart? What’s the word? What’s the fault line?

KS: Yeah.

AC: So I can be aware that that’s gonna be sensitive, and also maybe think about how to approach that or shore that up or safeguard it.

CB: Right. What’s the difficulty? And what’s the best euphemism you can use for describing that?

AC: You know, I’m actually very kind in my chart readings. I know there’s a lot of ‘Clive Barker-esque’ metaphors when I’m writing and speaking.

CB: On the podcast.

AC: Yeah, on the podcast, or when I write. I like metaphor. I don’t know, I am not disturbed by disturbing things, if that makes sense.

KS: Yes. And that’s clearly a true statement, Austin, for those of us who’ve had a window into you for a little while now.

CB: Your ‘sewers’ metaphor for Venus retrograde in Scorpio has gone over very well on social media for like the past three or four months.

KS: People are still talking about it.

AC: It was also literally accurate for lots of people.

KS: Yes.

AC: I got tons of emails from people. Somebody emailed me yesterday. No, they emailed me like two weeks ago, but I read it yesterday, and they were like, “Yeah, so with the Venus Cloacina, (I think it’s Cloacina in Latin, ‘Sewer Venus’) an ex-boyfriend hit me up. He’s a photographer, and he’s doing a project where he’s taking pictures of famous toilets all around New York City as soon as Venus stationed retrograde.” And I was like, “Awesome,” and I’ve gotten lots of emails like that.

CB: Your point was that you were not using sewer metaphors in most individual, one-on-one consultations?

AC: No, not unless the person has a good sense of humor.

CB: Okay.

KS: Yeah. But I like this ‘how can we be diplomatic about what’s good or what’s bad’ because that’s one thing I’m often holding. It’s not so much a technique, but when I’m looking at the chart, I’m like, what is working really well in this chart? Where do I see sort of flow or vitality or success or potential? And where do I see the roadblocks? Where are the problems? What’s gone wrong? What is causing this problem/pain? ‘Cause what’s causing this person some pain is because it’s not working the way that it should.

CB: Right.

KS: And then you’re looking for planets that may be in difficult aspects or out-of-sect or in tricky signs or station. I mean, there’s a number of technical configurations that would answer those questions. But really I like that approach, Austin, where you’re really looking for what are some high points and what are some low points, and then how can we support both of these. How can we get them to more of what’s working, but how can we shore up this leaky spot?

AC: Yeah. And also, part of the reason for that is what’s being emphasized right now, what’s relevant to this period of life. Are the transits and time-lords and all that putting a person in their ‘sunken place’ where we really need to focus on remediating a difficulty or minimizing unpleasantness or whatever? Or are they coming into a period of strength where it would be useful to think about how to optimize that strength and maximize it, as well as to be told by a stranger, “This says you totally have the strength that you think you do. You should probably go with that?” Like have full confidence in that. It’s time for that particularly shiny part of you to shine.

KS: Yes.

CB: Definitely.

KS: Yeah, that’s the key. These are the weak spots, these are the good spots, and then where are you right now.

AC: Yeah. What do we need to talk about in this short time that we have?

KS: Are you at the bottom of the sewer, or are you sitting on the throne?

AC: Yeah.

CB: And then finally, just to bring it back around, I mean, the answer to the question is basically repetition and through the process of doing the practice over and over again, seeing clients, applying the techniques that you know and the things that you learned. Eventually you’re gonna have these carryovers where there’s certain ones that work really well for you, that you’ve found to work well in certain consultations, and then you’ll apply it in another consultation and it’ll work again; whereas there will be some techniques where you’re like, “That’s a little iffy; I’m not sure if that worked as well as I would have hoped,” and maybe you might use that one less as time goes on. And through that process of just repetition you eventually will develop your own approach based on the techniques and the interpretations that you gravitate more towards versus the ones that you’ve found to be not effective in your personal practice for whatever reason.

And Lee Lehman actually had this great analogy that she used in her book on horary, The Martial Art of Horary Astrology, where she likens astrology to a martial art. And just learning the basic stances, like in karate, or the basic moves and stuff is an initial thing. But eventually through the process of just repetition and doing those basic learned things over and over again, eventually you gain this sort of fluidity with it, so that eventually you can improvise when necessary, just sort of on the fly. Everything just becomes so ingrained that eventually you don’t have to think about it, it just happens, and you just do it. I mean, as somebody that does martial arts, Austin, is that a correct analogy for how that works on some level?

AC: Yeah, I think that’s a great analogy. Lee actually sent me some of her old martial arts books. I have The Encyclopedia of Taekwondo on my shelf about ten feet behind me.

CB: Nice. I don’t know if we actually talked about that specific topic, but for that episode you can go back and listen to Episode 116, “Horary astrology questions, with Lee Lehman.” Side note. I don’t know if I’ve mentioned this on the podcast before, but I finally got it so that the RSS feed shows all past episodes of The Astrology Podcast now rather than just the latest 50. So if you pull the podcast up on your phone and you refresh the feed, it’ll show you every episode now on your phone rather than just the last 50. So I had been trying to figure out how to get it to do that without crashing the podcast for a couple years now unsuccessfully. Finally got it to work, so now everybody can listen to the back episodes easily. I realized at one point that people didn’t know that there were more than 50 episodes, so they were missing this huge back catalog of stuff we had talked about. All right, so I think that’s good for that question, right?

AC: Yeah.

KS: Yeah, totally.

CB: Cool.

KS: We’re on fire.

CB: Definitely. We’re doing very well. So thank you to Shakirah Tabourn for sending that in. And like I said, check out her magazine at nfluxmag.com. All right, so moving on to the next question. This is from Christina. And, Austin, you already partially answered this question.

AC: The answer is no.

CB: Okay. The question was from Christina Mariae, @chmariae on Twitter. She says, “Is it rude to ask what system an astrologer uses when inquiring about a session?” And Austin’s answer immediately on Twitter was no.

AC: I said not at all.

CB: Not at all, okay.

KS: That’s right. You were very kind and gentle in delivering the ‘no’. There you go.

AC: Gentlemanly.

KS: Gentlemanly. I agree completely, it’s not rude. And I was gonna comment on Twitter, but then we got in trouble for answering questions on Twitter.

AC: I answer one question that’s just ‘no’, and Chris yells at me.

KS: So I was like I’ll hold my answer to the episode.

CB: Yeah. All right, well now you guys can expand on Austin’s—

KS: I mean, it’s a two-sentence elaboration. I like it when clients ask about specifics like this beforehand because then we can be clear about what we’re doing when we get together, so I actually encourage these types of questions. As the client, you’re allowed to know what kind of a service you’re gonna have. Is it a Placidus quadrant reading? Is it whole sign? Ask all the questions that you feel you need to know about what you’re getting. You’re paying good money for a reading with an astrologer. So I think, go for it. Ask all the questions.

CB: Yeah. And I think that’s definitely true and people shouldn’t feel like they can’t or like it would be inappropriate to ask a question like that, or to ask them, what zodiac do you use? Do you use tropical or sidereal?

KS: Yeah.

CB: There’s other questions like that. Do you use modern or traditional rulerships? One of the things that’s tricky is that’s kind of double-edged sword because, on the one hand, if you know those, or if you have a certain view of your chart already you’re gonna want to normally find an astrologer that has a similar view in order to help you better understand what you already know about your chart. That’s kind of a double-edged sword because, on the one hand, you want that, and certainly that’s something that you have the right to do. But on the other hand sometimes it’s nice to expose yourself to other forms of astrology and other approaches that you may not be familiar with and to see how an astrologer might answer a question from a different perspective. And instead of being annoying, sometimes that can be enlightening. So that’s the only little caveat I wanted to add on top of that. Sometimes reaching outside of your comfort zone can be useful, but otherwise 80% of the time it’s fine to ask the astrologer ahead of time what their approach is so that you know everything going into it, and you can make an informed choice in terms of who you consult with.

AC: Yeah, I actually have had a number of people book consultations with me because I did things not the same as they did.

CB: Okay.

AC: And they wanted a second opinion. You know, we all get bored of our own opinions about ourselves, at least we should.

CB: Yeah, that’s part of the learning experience. And it’s constructive, or can be constructive.

KS: Absolutely, yeah. Similarly, with the whole whole sign explosion in popularity, some clients are like, “I’ve not looked at my chart in this way, and I’d love to hear what it’s like.” ‘Cause I think sometimes that question is not just ‘how do you do it, I only want to work with someone who’s like me’, sometimes it’s equally from that perspective of I’m open to or I’m curious about this way that’s different from what I normally do and I just want to clarify.

CB: Yeah. And it’s good to go in and not be blindsided by it. I mean, if you’re used to looking at your chart from a certain perspective, and this astrologer does it completely differently and you didn’t know that going into it, sometimes that’s good and sometimes it might be surprising in an unwanted sense. So, yeah, it’s perfectly reasonable for a client or a prospective client to ask an astrologer questions like that ahead of time.

KS: Absolutely. It’s definitely not rude. It’s definitely not rude.

CB: Sure.

KS: I think if anyone gives you a bad reaction to a question like that, that’s weird.

CB: I mean, the only scenario where I could see somebody having a bad reaction is if it’s like a really busy astrologer. I don’t know what the situation is in terms of booking things, like if they’re booked really far ahead. I don’t know if those astrologers are always super on top of fielding questions like that where you’re asking for a detailed response about how they do readings. Some might just be like, “Well, I have my approach. I mean, if you want to set up a consultation with me that’s good.”

KS: Yeah, I guess there’s a difference between asking a couple of quick questions around ‘are you using this zodiac or this house system’ versus ‘I would like a 500-word description of how you’re gonna approach the reading, ‘cause then I would say I’ve got a description outline on my website of what I offer in this service. If that’s right for you, great. If it’s not, that’s fine. Go on to someone different.

CB: Right. Please tell me what is the mechanism underlying astrology? What are its history and origins that explain your current approach to the subject?

KS: Yeah. And I think there are some astrologers—there’s a couple that come to mind—who are super-busy, high-volume consulting astrologers, and they would have administration assistants who would be fielding some of these questions for them as well.

CB: Right. Like Steve Forrest or somebody like that where he’s booking six months or 12 months or like two years ahead of time.

KS: Yeah. They would have an admin person that would be able to answer these questions.

CB: Sure. All right, good times. That’s a good question. Thanks for submitting that Christina.

KS: Easy one, Christina.

CB: Let’s move onto the next one by Ashley Bober on Twitter, @astro_ashley11. So she says, “I’m curious when you get a first-time client natal reading, what do you start with when talking to the client?” So I guess she’s asking if this is their very first consultation, or perhaps if they don’t have any background in astrology whatsoever, what do you start with. Like how do you open up a reading like that?

KS: Okay, right.

CB: I think we would certainly all agree that those are a little bit more challenging on some level compared to if you’ve got somebody coming to you who’s like an astrology enthusiast or another astrologer that speaks the same language. That’s a little bit different of a dynamic compared to somebody who is maybe new to the subject or hasn’t had a reading before and doesn’t really know how it goes.

KS: It is different. I don’t know that I would use the word ‘challenging’, but it is certainly different. The energy is different. The experience is different. And just as you were saying that, I’m like, “Oh, I know what I do for this.” So a client’s coming in and they’ve maybe never seen their birth chart before, or they’re here ‘cause somebody said they should come and they thought it sounded fun. Either they’ve never seen their chart before or they’ve seen it but I’ve really got no idea what they’re looking at. Usually the first thing I do for a client like that is we do a very quick ‘Astrology 101’: “Here’s a picture of your chart. Let me just introduce you to what we’re actually looking at here.” Usually I start by saying, “This part is the Ascendant, and here’s the Descendant. And this represents the horizon, and this is the sky, and these are the planets.” So it’s a very quick sort of ‘astrology in five minutes or less’ just to introduce them to the material that we’ll be working with, and then I would go into ‘your Ascendant is and this is what it means’. There is a little bit more explanation because you can’t use astrological terminology and have the instant resonance or understanding for an absolute newbie client. So just being aware that you will have to maybe change your pacing and change the style of words that you might use.

CB: Yeah, that’s really good. And that actually ties into another question that maybe we could throw into this one from Rob who is @oldschoolastro on Twitter. He says, “In a reading, to what extent do each of you explain the techniques? Do you just deliver the information to the client, or do you reference the placements and configurations that you’re getting the information from? And if you do explain, how much time do you spend explaining?” So you partially answered that question, that especially with a newer client or somebody that’s newer to astrology, a decent percentage of a consultation that is teaching and trying to explain to them what they’re looking at when you’re looking at a horoscope, which is always a birth chart, which is like the centerpiece or the focal point of any natal consultation. Is that the same for you, Austin? Do you do a fair amount of teaching or like informal teaching on the fly in a consultation? Or are you just delineating and trying to translate it into something they would understand?

AC: It totally depends on the person I’m talking to.

CB: Right. Let’s say though it’s a brand new person, like Ashley asked, that’s a first-time natal reading. How much time would you spend trying to explain the chart, or even the astronomy of what you’re looking at on the diagram versus just going straight to delineation?

AC: Yeah, I’ll do some more explaining: “This is the thing that we’re looking at; this is where I’m drawing these statements from. This is a rising sign. Your rising sign is this. What characterizes your intersection with reality like this?” etc., etc. But still it’s very adaptive. It depends. It’s a first-time reading. Is this person really interested in astrology and wants everything to be explained? Is their goal primarily self-knowledge where they don’t really care about astrology, but they’re interested in what’s reflected in that mirror about their lives? It really depends on where someone’s coming from.

CB: Yeah, definitely.

KS: Yeah.

CB: I mean, it’s gonna vary so widely. Different people are gonna come at it from such a wide perspective.

KS: And this is the tricky part when people are looking to get started with consults or build their practice. There are so many nuances like this that come in where it’s not as though we’re doing exactly the same thing for clients in similar circumstances. So I totally appreciate it’s a little bit confusing ‘cause in some ways it’s sort of a case-by-case example. To Rob’s question of do you just deliver the information, does the client have any interest in understanding the astrological terms? In which case sometimes a new session is almost like a combined teaching track/consult. Obviously, they’re there for the consult and the interpretation, but some people are really like, “Oh, what is that term again? What does that aspect mean?” There’s a real enthusiasm or a hunger for the astrology in addition to the interpretation. But there are some clients who are well-versed in astrology and they’re like, “So what’s your technique again?” They want you to kind of take them through your process in addition to giving them the interpretation.

CB: Yeah. And that’s gonna be especially more prominent for other astrologers coming to another astrologer for a reading, or students of astrology that are already studying it. They want to know what you’re doing.

KS: Yeah.

CB: So, for me, I mean, my approach to doing consultations, or what was my approach, is that it was always crucial for me to explain and somewhat try to teach at least some of the basics of the astronomy and what we’re looking at in the diagram. “This is the rising sign, this is where the Sun rises in the morning each day, and the Descendant is where the Sun sets,” and to use that as the basis for some of the metaphors or other descriptions that you use, so that you’re tying it into something physical in reality rather than just this abstract diagram. But I also would always do that or have a certain component of a consultation that’s teaching. Part of my goal was always to get people into astrology partially out of the belief that the best way to do astrology and to do personal astrology is eventually to learn it yourself. And that to the extent that you learn it yourself, you’re gonna eventually do a better job, and you’re going to get more out of reading something like your horoscope, or reading an astrological forecast, or even a consultation.

Because there’s so many nuances and details and things that go into astrology and interpretation, it’s very hard to cover everything that you want to cover in a 75-minute consultation. So to whatever extent you can learn it yourself, that’s gonna be useful to you personally. And I always wanted to convey that to clients by teaching them a little bit about astrology in each consultation, in addition to just doing the delineation. And then that was also positive because then they could also see that there was a reason why I was making certain statements. To point to this specific thing and say, “This is the reason why I would make this statement based on this technique,” or this other statement based on this other technique. So then you can show them that there’s a rhyme or a reason to it, and I think there’s something about that that also gets people more interested and more excited about astrology rather than just making a bunch of statements about their life that they otherwise don’t know where that’s coming from or what have you

AC: Yeah, I prefer to do it that way. Some people don’t care though.

KS: Yeah.

CB: Yeah, it’s like you said Austin, a case-by-case basis. I don’t know, it’s more enjoyable for me if the person is interested in approaching it from that perspective because then you get to do not just the delineation, but also teaching them something. The whole ‘give a man of fish’ versus ‘teaching him how to fish’ analogy is exactly what I’m talking about here.

KS: Yeah.

AC: Yeah, totally.

KS: Yeah, and it’s—sorry, Austin.

AC: Oh, I was just gonna say, yeah, it’s preferable.

CB: But some people just want to fish. They’re just like, “Gimme the fish.”

KS: Some people do. They just want me to give them the fish. You know, it’s different, but I think now I’m just like where is the client at? I mean, my counseling background was very much a client-centered style of counseling. That’s the way I was trained, and I’ve carried that into my astrology, which I think is what you guys are essentially saying too. We each have our own kind of preferences, but we will be led by the client’s personal choice on the day basically.

CB: Yeah. You adapt yourself to the client and the client’s needs and wants versus your own needs and wants. You’re not gonna force them to learn astrology if they want to learn it.

KS: Exactly. ‘Cause then that client is gonna feel like they didn’t get what they want because you talk to them about all this technical stuff, and they’re like, “But I just wanted you to tell me what you saw in my chart (or what you thought my year ahead might look like),” for instance.

CB: Yeah.

KS: But that also is a little bit of an experience—confidence in your approach, confidence in your skills—where you’re willing to co-create or collaborate with the client.

CB: Yeah, so that’s a crucial part of that early rapport-building stage that we were talking about at the beginning of trying to suss out how they want to do this consultation, what level they’re at, and what sort of approach they’re looking for in terms of learning the techniques versus just learning the outcomes or the predictions that you would make or the interpretations or what have you.

AC: Mm-hmm.

CB: All right, that sounds good. I think we can leave it at that. So we’ve knocked out two questions. So thanks to Ashley and to Rob for submitting those two. The next question. I don’t know, we’re not gonna spend a lot of time on this, and I know you guys didn’t want to too much, but this is the Draconic question, which is actually by @millymichelle on Twitter. And I’m actually really excited she rejoined Twitter recently. She’s been helping me recently to moderate the Reddit astrology page and she’s doing a really amazing job and is a great astrologer. So everyone should check her Twitter out. She asks, “What is the proper use of the Draconic chart if any of [you guys] use it [at all], and how to properly integrate it into the expression of self up against the natal chart?” So she asked, “What purpose does it serve besides the knee-jerk magic of it being a rendering of the ‘soul’ purpose?” So this is a tricky question ‘cause the answer—when we were discussing this and trying to rank and order the questions we wanted to get to first—was none of us use the Draconic chart basically between the three of us, right?

AC: I don’t.

KS: Yes, I don’t.

CB: And I don’t either. And somewhere in the past year, I actually addressed this. I don’t know if it was in a previous Q&A or if it was a forecast episode. I’ll have to do a search.

KS: I think it might have been a Q&A, Chris, ‘cause it’s sounding vaguely familiar to me. And I wonder if it was a past Q&A that we’ve done where I think you might have made this comment.

CB: Yeah. And if I can find that I’ll put a link to it on the description page. Because I remember getting interested in it. I just didn’t know where it came from. I know it’s something that I’ve seen talked about in places, and it’s often referenced as like a very ancient technique, using the Draconic chart. But having studied traditional astrology and some Medieval and Renaissance astrology, I’ve never really seen it in any of those sources, so I always had it bookmarked in my mind as a thing to investigate at some point of where did this even come from. Because I just had the vague sense that it was actually a relatively recent innovation that was somehow being promoted as a more ancient thing than it was.

And I think the last time I got this question on a previous episode, I actually investigated and found that it is actually relatively recent technique that was invented some time just a few decades ago, and it may have been invented based on a misinterpretation of an actual genuine ancient text that I’m actually familiar with. It was like a myth connected to the Thema Mundi and the creation of the cosmos and how the planets got their domicile assignments, and this funny little story about the Sun moving from Leo into Virgo and the other signs, and then all of the planets like fleeing and moving around in zodiacal order until they got into their second domicile. But somehow part of that Persian myth was possibly misinterpreted in modern times as this whole other approach to astrology where you take the North Node and then that becomes 0° of Aries or something like that. I think you just looked it up and that was the definition, right, Austin?

AC: Yeah, the North Node anchors the new zodiac that begins with 0 Aries at the North Node’s position.

CB: Right. And that’s just something from studying traditional astrology that I’ve never seen any traditional or ancient astrologers actually doing until 20 or 30 years ago. And so, I’ve written a whole research project or paper on it yet, so don’t to make this my final word, but my initial understanding at the present time is that this seems to be a relatively new technique that may be based on a misinterpretation of an older astrological text from the 6th or 7th century or something like that. But I’ll have to get back to you and do a full episode investigating that at some point in the future. In the short term, suffice it to say, the three of us do not or have not really used that technique, and it’s not a regular part of your practice, right?

AC: Correct.

KS: Correct.

CB: All right, then that is that for that question. So thanks a lot for posing that. There was one, and I don’t know if we want to get into this, but it’s kind of like another question that was a sub-one connected to that. Kipp, @eudaimoniaastro on Twitter, asked, “I’d love to hear the three of you compare and contrast your views on the application of the lunar nodes.” So I’ve done other Q&As, like the one I did with Adam Sommer. We were gonna do 20 questions, and then the very first question was on the nodes, and then that turned into a whole episode talking about the nodes. So on some level I almost want to just refer back to that episode for my views. Do you guys have an interest in noting very quickly your own approach to the nodes?

AC: Yeah, I think I can do it fast.

CB: All right.

AC: So real quick, there are three major schools of thought on the nodes, one is the Evolutionary school where you’re kind of moving towards the North Node and trying to work on letting go of the South Node. The other approach—found in most traditional texts, most traditional Western texts—is that the North Node is the ‘more’ button and the South Node is the ‘less’ button. And then the third approach is seen in Vedic astrology, which is I think more difficult to characterize quickly because Vedic astrology makes extensive use of the nodes and has for thousands of years. And so, there’s more there than can be said quickly. I personally tend to defer to the Jyotish opinions. When there’s a conflict in general, I take an alchemical view of the nodes. I see the North Node as the coagula between spirit and matter. It brings about identification with things, and it’s sort of grasping onto things more firmly; which can be good and can also get you in a lot of trouble. And I see the South Node is the letting go or the releasing of a grasp, and it’s the ‘solvay’ or the separation of spirit and matter.

CB: Nice.

KS: Yeah, beautiful.

CB: And, Kelly, what do you think?

KS: I would only add a couple of brief points. Like Austin, I tend to grab most of my most useful info about the nodes from the Indian or the Vedic tradition, to be mindful that they’re both very potent and intense points that have a little bit of a tendency to excess. An excess of too much or an excess of release, if you like, if we think about North versus South perhaps. They sort of have this ‘hungry, never satisfied’ kind of tone, so we get amplification for planets that are, say, conjunct the North or the South Node in slightly different ways. But suffice it to say, I do think they’re quite important. I don’t think there’s a lot of really useful literature in the West on them, so I do like to import from the East.

CB: Which is kind of saying something ‘cause there’s actually a lot of literature in the past couple of decades, two or three decades, on the nodes in the West, so it’s kind of throwing some shade to say that on some level.

AC: But compared to 1,500—

CB: Yeah, 2,000-year Indian tradition.

AC: I mean, we can compare 30 years to 2,000 years.

CB: Yeah. Well, it’s just—

AC: It’s not an insult to the 30 years, it’s just there’s certain understandings which get refined over time and through generations of practitioners and all that; all the good stuff that lineage brings.

KS: The one modern piece that I associate with modern and maybe the origin is older in the Western tradition that I do kind of like—I don’t use it in every client situation, but occasionally it will be something I talk about—is to look at the rulers of the nodes. And so, that may be in the Vedic tradition as well. I remember learning at first through the modern approach. but I do like to consider the traditional ruling planet of the sign of the North Node or the South Node.

CB: Yeah, and I think I’ve talked about this at different places. Like I said, listen to Episode 127 for my previous discussion on the nodes, that I went through this whole process over the past 10 years of trying to remove the nodes and not use them as much in my practice. When I came up in modern astrology they were such a huge component. There’s been this fetishization of the nodes where they’ve just become the first thing that anyone looks at, and in some approaches to astrology in the late 20th century, it’s almost virtually the only thing that people look at. And I realize that’s overstating the point a little bit, but there’s just some approaches that are so centered on the nodes and centered on the idea of your past life or your future life being associated with that. And the thing that really shocked me when I began studying older forms of astrology in the mid-2000s was I didn’t see any of that in traditional astrology prior to the 20th century. There just was not this huge elaborate doctrine of the karma and reincarnation, or at least reincarnation being associated with the nodes as like a specific thing prior to the mid-to-late 20th century.

And that really shook me up because it was such a crucial and big piece of modern astrology that everyone was taking for granted, that it made me want to remove the nodes from my practice and try and get some space and some perspective on them. And then I’ve sort of slowly been reintegrating them over the course of the past several years basically. But the main thing I use them for now is just mathematical points because they show where the path of the Sun crosses the path of the Moon, and when that happens you get an eclipse; because when the Moon moves in front of the Sun of course you get an eclipse. And that’s the primary thing that I use them for now. They’re just markers that tell you what signs eclipses are gonna start taking place around that timeframe or in the near future. And so, it’s through the eclipses really that they have their greatest meaning to me or purpose or usefulness at this point in time.

AC: Yeah, and that’s agreed, and that’s also where all of their meanings should come from. It’s the language of shadow.

CB: Sure. All right, I think that’s good for that question. Like I said, Adam Sommer and I got stuck on a whole nodes discussion in Episode 127, so check that out for more on that topic. Next question, Catherine Urban, @astrocatherine, asks, “When clients ask you if they should leave their partner…obviously we cannot make that choice for them. What are some of the ways that you’ve helped people navigate this situation?” Have you guys had this come up? Or do you have any recent recollections of a situation like this come up in a consulting setting?

AC: Yeah. The client sent me the chart of a dude—no, I shouldn’t talk about it.

KS: Okay.

CB: Okay.

KS: Do you want to talk generally rather than specifically, Austin?

AC: Sure.

CB: I mean, it could be like major life choices and somebody is either asking you to make a choice for them or asking you on some level how to navigate that situation, which is sometimes like, “I have a major life choice, a decision to make; I’m coming to you as an astrologer to give me advice or perspective on it,” and sometimes that fine line we have as astrologers between giving advice and perspective versus giving directives of somebody asking you which choice to make. “I have two paths. Which one should I go down?” or what have you. Is that a good way to reframe the question?

KS: That’s very diplomatically done, Chris.

CB: Thank you.

AC: So, one, it depends on what the chart says and what their situation is, right? If they’re in an obviously horrific situation then, yes, you encourage them to leave.

CB: Right. If somebody’s like, “I’m in an abusive relationship, what should I do?” as the astrologer—

KS: You don’t actually need the chart to answer that question.

CB: Right. Well, as the astrologer your primary and fundamental goal, astrology or not, is to help the client and to do no harm let’s say, in like a medical context almost.

AC: One of the things that I’ll do in consultations, in relationship to this issue but also others, is I will take a step back from the astrology and offer an opinion as a person who’s talking to them.

KS: Human-to-human.

AC: I will lift the ‘astrology’ hat off and place it there and say, “This is not the chart; this is just my opinion as a person who you wanted to talk to you about this,” and then give an opinion framed as an opinion. That can allow you to be honest as a person, especially if you have some strong thoughts about the situation, as they’re describing and as you’re seeing it, without pretending that those opinions have more authority than they do, but still offering them to the other person with your best wishes or with your best intentions.

CB: Right. I like that. And then you proceed to put the ‘astrology’ hat back on and continue the consultation as the astrologer. The ‘astrology’ hat, interestingly, probably looks like a wizard hat. I’m trying to imagine what the ‘astrology’ hat would look like if you had an actual hat.

AC: It’s gotta be the classical conical with stars over it.

CB: Right.

KS: Of course. I mean, I did get a visual of the Harry Potter sorting hat, but that’s not quite the same hat.

CB: Right.

KS: But I agree, Austin. I do something similar. I don’t necessarily do it at the start of the session. But if there comes a point mid-consult where the person seems to be really wanting me to give them an answer of like ‘what should I do’—‘cause that can happen about a relationship or about a job or a family situation—it’s usually a clue the person is really in deep turmoil about this issue and almost wants to be liberated from the responsibility of choosing for themselves, so you kind of want to keep that in mind. But I’ll often say, “Look, I’ll just put the chart to the side. As a human, this is what it sounds like. This is what it feels like.” There’s a lot of reflecting that might go on with the language around the emotions.

But to Catherine’s question, sometimes just going into the astrology—these are the cycles that you’re in, this is the profection or the transit or the progression or the releasing period; this is what the lay of the land looks like now or this is what you’ve been dealing with in the last 12 months; this is what looks like it’s ahead for you—that can sometimes help settle that inner turmoil down where they start to reconnect with themselves. They may come out of their crazy, over-analytical head-space and into more of a heart- or belly-space from which they can be more honest with themselves. And clients can come in desperate to have an answer to a question, and through the experience of the consult leave feeling more calm and more confident in what they may do even if they don’t have a clear answer.

AC: A hundred percent. And that reminds me of something else that I end up saying a lot that I think is important. Usually I can see a person’s confusion about an issue, whether it’s professional or relational, and I can see the timing of it. And another thing I will tell people is it does not matter what I think. Even if I could see the future perfectly, you’re not gonna be able to make this decision and stick with it until you achieve certainty within yourself. Sometimes you can help facilitate that. But a lot of times you’re like, “Um, there’s another six weeks of this.” So a lot of times I will give them basically when whatever obscuring factors or confusing factors and clarity will naturally arise.

KS: Yes.

AC: ‘Cause that’s something I do for myself with astrology quite a bit. I’m like, I’m anxious, or I’m depressed, or I’m mad, or I can’t see or think clearly about ‘x, y, or z’. It’s like, “Well, that’s happening and you’ll be fine in two weeks.”

CB: Right.

AC: And then I’m like, “Oh, yeah, the two weeks is up. I totally can see this clearly now.” And so, it’s kind of an almost ironic thing where I’m not telling them the answer, I’m telling them when they will have the answer.

CB: Right.

KS: Yes.

AC: But I think it’s actually pretty valuable. It’s just kind of a weird-sounding thing.

CB: Yeah. Especially Neptune transits, I mean, the longer-term ones and just that being the answer of you’re not gonna know until you get out of this period when you’re going to be able to get some perspective on it. But sometimes when you’re in the thick of it, when you’re in the midst of the fog, you can’t see outside of it. And it’s only once you get outside of that cloud that you look back and realize the cloud that you were in. And I think that’s part of what you’re talking about, Austin. Although you’re also referring to shorter-term transits where instead of a two-year Neptune transit or something, you’re talking about a Mars transit. Mars is making you more heated during a period of time, and you’re not thinking clearly because you’re getting more irritated than you normally would. And part of your job then as the astrologer is giving them a timeline on when things are gonna calm down and they’re going to be able to look at it with a more cool or clear head.

AC: Yeah. And, Kelly, I imagine you get consults every Venus retrograde where it’s someone in a relationship and they’re like, “Oh, God, I just don’t know what to do.”

KS: Yeah.

AC: And it’s always just wait until Venus is direct. I just tell people what I see over and over again, which is I see people break up in Venus retrogrades and get back together, and then break up again and get back together within that six weeks. Like just sit on it until you’re sure. And then do or do not, there is no try.

KS: Oh, my gosh, I love that Yoda saying. And these are brilliant points guys because I do think a huge amount of the help that astrology offers—we’re just conduits for the astrology itself; we’re speaking to what’s in the chart basically—is the timing piece. And with some clients that are very frank, sometimes I’ll say, “I want to use a swear word here,” and they’re like, “Absolutely. Use all the swear words or whatever.” And I’m like, “This looks like a really shitty time,” for whatever reason or what have you. Depending on the rapport, not every client I would use their words with.

CB: Just throw that out with a consultation with a 10-year-old.

KS: No. But the timing piece of this type of cycle is associated with these types of feelings, confusions, experiences, challenges, what have you, and to say it started at this point, and they’re like, “That’s exactly when I had issues. That’s when I started thinking about I should leave my partner (or my job),” or “That’s when I found out this thing in my family.” And then we can say, “Right. We have resonance now.” We know that the start of the cycle triggered the start of congruent events, symbolically-speaking. When is this cycle due to end? That’s the timeframe in which you will be sitting with, exploring with, dealing with, and we get some kind of improvement. Whether it’s clarity and you can make a decision, whether you just get some distance or perspective—it can be a variety of things as to what happens after, but we’re able to identify when the ‘after’ starts.

AC: Yeah, absolutely.

KS: That’s everything.

AC: It’s very true. And it also harkens back to a point that we were making earlier, which is dialogue. ‘Cause if you can figure out what cycle a particular phenomenon is linked to, when it began, then you can figure out when it’s going to end.

KS: Yes.

CB: Yeah. And that right there is the crucial piece of why the dialogue is important, and why it’s more effective both for you, the astrologer, as well as for the client, and why both of you are gonna get more out of consultation, if you’re able to have that dialogue versus if you’re not.

KS: A lot of times the clients will say, “This is the big story,” or “This is the big drama,” and the first question out of my mouth is, “When did this start?”

CB: Yeah, ‘cause then you connect it with things if it’s connected to a retrograde cycle. What happens is that in a retrograde cycle, a planet, when it goes retrograde, is close to an exact aspect with a natal planet. Sometimes that means it’s gonna hit that; it’s going to form an exact aspect three times. And so, sometimes the first time it makes that exact aspect it opens up a sequence or a series of events, and then there’s a middle phase when the second exact aspect hits, and then there’s a closing or a completion phase when the third exact aspect hits. And sometimes you, as the astrologer, you’re trying to look back and if you find the event that opened or originated the thing, you can understand when the middle-point and when the endpoint will be for that sequence of events, for example.

AC: Yep, absolutely. Or with a time-lord period.

KS: Yeah.

AC: Or with pretty much anything.

CB: Yeah, Saturn cycles. Like the 30-year Saturn cycle, and the hard aspects of Saturn; what your Saturn return was like and the waxing Saturn square and the opposition and the waning square.

KS: We have so many great cycles to choose from in astrology. It’s just amazing.

CB: Yeah. And all of those cycles—it’s like the more knowledge you have about the past, the better position you’re gonna be in to make predictions about the future. And that is the crucial reason ultimately when it comes down to it of why dialogue is important. Because we just have the chart as the astrologer, and we know these cycles, you need to fill in some of those details about what exactly happened in the past events in your life. That way we can then chart the trajectory of where things are headed and then make some informed statements about where things will end up in the future.

AC: Yep, totally.

KS: Yeah.

CB: All right. The very last thing in order to wrap up this question, I just wanted to say I was a little caught off guard by this—when I remembered sitting in a lecture a few years ago of somebody that was doing traditional astrology—and I was actually surprised at how forward they were being compared to what I’m usually comfortable with about telling clients what to do or giving them specific directives in terms of what they thought they should do in certain situations. And it made me realize that there’s kind of a spectrum and some astrologers feel more or less comfortable telling clients what to do or what is appropriate in terms of that. So I know there’s probably a spectrum of astrologers operating within certain constraints, and I feel like while the three of us might be sort of more or less on the same page, there might be other perspectives depending on where you’re coming from when it comes down to what is the role of the astrologer and what’s appropriate to say to a client and how much intervention you should have in their life based on your opinion of what the astrology says.

AC: I’m kind of a ‘listen first’, and then if you want to hear what I think you should do, I’ll tell you.

CB: Sure.

AC: I offer advice from a remedial level and that can be more formal ritual remediation stuff or soft remediation where it’s just kind of changing the shape of what you’re doing or your life or whatever. But, yeah, I’ll give suggestions, but after listening, and if people want it. I don’t just sit them down and be like, “This is what you gotta do, son?”

CB: Right. What about you, Kelly?

KS: Yeah, I guess when you were first describing that internally I was getting on a bit of a soapbox.

CB: What was the soapbox?

KS: The soapbox was that idea of just telling people what to do, that really grates on me that sort of thinking of, “Well, we’ve got the chart, so I know what you should do,” or “I know what your experience is.” That irritates me. But then Austin just put it so beautifully that idea of listening and responding. And it is a combination of being a human and of having the astrology insight because I would do something similar. I might say, “Look, in this situation there are a couple of ways to approach it. We’ve got this option, we’ve got that option,” depending on what the circumstances are. Sometimes it’s a bit of a brainstorming.

One piece that I often throw in is I’ll ask the client like, “We’ve talked about how this might manifest; you could try this; you might try that,” what have you. It’s being more assertive if it’s a weakened Mars thing or what have you. And I’ll just say, “How does that feel for you? What’s happening in your body as we talk about these options?” The other thing I’ve learned over the years of consulting is people don’t just do what they’re told either. And so, it’s also that piece of getting the buy-in or the connection. Some clients—you have a conversation about a strategy or an option that they could take to manage a situation in their life, and they visibly, “Ah, that makes sense.” And they’ll say, “That feels really good in my body. I feel really comfortable about that.” And I think that’s been fantastic. It’s hard to say whether I’ve told them specifically what to do or if something has emerged that they can try out of the conversation.

CB: Right.

AC: That’s just a really good point, Kelly, that a lot of the ‘should’ emerges organically.

KS: Yeah.

AC: It’s not you saying ‘should’, but what is clearly the right thing to do or the approach just happens.

KS: Yes. It just becomes clear. It becomes revealed, Austin. You’re a hundred percent right. It’s just after our conversation and you’re importing the astrology input, it’s a no-brainer that this is what you’re gonna do basically.

AC: Totally.

KS: So I think that approach, if that’s clear in any way, shape, or form.

CB: Yeah, I think that makes sense. I think being careful about not presuming on the astrologer’s part—having a sort of humbleness, especially in understanding astrology as an interpretive art, that’s something that a lot of us are taking for granted versus just being careful not to get too much of an ego as an astrologer. Obviously, we all know as astrologers that astrology doesn’t confer complete omniscience, so you have to still have a little bit of carefulness about assuming that any certain thing is gonna work out exactly one way, or that it’s definitely gonna go that way, and be careful then to frame your advice partially in that context. And I think that’s something the three of us are kind of being careful about, and that’s probably modifying our view a little bit as well.

KS: Totally.

AC: Yeah.

CB: All right. Do you have something else to add onto that, Austin?

AC: Well, yeah, that’s important, but not underselling astrology is also important. ‘Cause it’s not anything you want it to be. If you look at it this way this person’s married with children by the time they’re 35, and if you look at it this way they’re a bohemian living in the gutter. There’s not that much give in charts, there’s a direction.

KS: Yes.

AC: If somebody’s like, “I have a Mars-Saturn conjunction in the 10th, and I would like to be a diplomat,” I’d be like—

KS: “I’d like to be an artist,” or something.

AC: If the art is about blood and guts and death and awesome stuff then, yeah. But if they’re like, “I would like to compose lullabies for a living, do you think I will be successful at that?”

CB: Heavy metal lullabies.

AC: Unless there’s something totally different happening in other parts of the chart, I would say, “You know, what, no.” I would say it in a different tone of voice. But I know as an astrologer that that’s not in that person’s life. A ‘lullaby/artist’ success is not there. It’s not gonna happen.

KS: Yeah.

CB: I mean, I was thinking about a situation like synastry. Let’s say somebody’s asking for relationship prospects and the question of what is the likelihood of success or failure in a relationship. I don’t know, there’s different ways that can go. And sometimes I feel more hesitation about just being like, “No, there’s no way that this could ever work out.” ‘Cause I’ve seen couples, or I’ve seen relationships, even difficult synastry or whatever, where people have had long and relatively successful relationships. And so, I sometimes just want to temper my own assumptions about it with the possibility that things could go a different direction.

KS: Yeah, it’s a fine balance to strike. And I think, Austin, to your point around ‘don’t dismiss the astrology’, we don’t wanna be so soft that we lose the actual clarity that astrology is giving us. And I think synastry is almost like a whole—not it’s a whole other kettle of fish—but there’s so much there with the two charts. Sometimes I’ve seen synastry pairings, and I think from an astrological perspective these connections look lovely. But what I’ve had to say to the client is it really depends on each of you making the choice of ‘we want to stay together’ or ‘we want to move forward’ because just having great connections is not always enough. I don’t know if that makes sense.

CB: Sure.

AC: I was quietly—I don’t think I was doing it with my head—but my soul was nodding along with you the entire time. I agree.

CB: And I just wanted to clarify I wasn’t challenging anything you were saying earlier, Austin. I was actually just—

AC: I know.

CB: Almost trying to articulate or put out something I think we’re all taking for granted, that we take some of those things for granted.

AC: Again, as I try to communicate my response, I think that point reveals a spectrum where it’s important to not underestimate the astrology or pretend you don’t know things that you know ‘cause it’s weird. Astrology is freaky. That astrology works is still freaky.

KS: It is.

AC: To take our lullaby composer, or our would-be lullaby composer, I feel like that would be dereliction of duty if I was like, “Well, yeah, sure. Mars and Saturn can mean that,” right? There’s a duty to describe honestly what’s in the astrology even if it’s not convenient. But with synastry, yes, that’s a whole kettle of fish in and of itself. Also, I wouldn’t use synastry. I consider synastry a secondary method when I am concerned with the successful outcome of a potential relationship. I’m always gonna look at all relevant natal factors before the synastry, if the person is in a period of time, if their natal chart is configured properly. Let’s just say that the natal chart says ‘long, happy marriage’ and those factors are lit up by time-lords, and it’s happening now, and they’re like, “Oh, I just met somebody,” I’d be like, “Okay, let me look at the synastry chart. You’ll probably find the person within this period of time. This is hot.” But with synastry—synastry seems to be really good at describing dynamics. It seems to be better at describing dynamics than predicting outcomes. I think it’s amazing for looking at how people relate.

KS: Yeah.

AC: But again I would put it in a secondary or less-than spot as far as predicting whether the relationship will be successful.

CB: Yeah.

AC: I also don’t like that term.

KS: Yes.

CB: I think the only reason I even brought that up is because of the specific example I was thinking of when I was sitting in this lecture; it was about the client approaching the astrologer for an election for a wedding. And then the astrologer looked at the synastry and thought in their personal opinion that it was so bad that they said, “I won’t do this electional chart for you because I don’t think you should get married,” or something like that. And I was sitting there thinking like, “Wow.” I sort of personally in my practice felt like that would be overstepping my bounds of what’s appropriate as an astrologer, an electional astrologer. But in reflecting on that it made me realize there is a spectrum depending on how you’re approaching astrology or what you think your role is as the astrologer and proficiency in it, as well as a number of other factors about how you would approach a situation like that or deal with clients.

AC: Yeah, I wouldn’t have done that. I have—I don’t know if it’s a hard-and-fast rule. I have a firm rule that I don’t answer questions that I’m not asked.

CB: Right.

KS: This. Austin, oh, my God, I love that. I’m just so excited I can’t even get my words out. I have a thing that I say to students too which is be very careful about answering unasked questions. That’s where I think we’ve got to be very careful about, just offering things we see in the chart versus the things that the clients are consciously curious about. Again, it’s a fine balance between how we parse out what we have that sort of duty to share versus what we need to be asked about before we should touch on it.

CB: Yeah, definitely.

AC: Yeah

CB: And that comes up a lot with electional work because they’re just coming to you, asking you, “Pick the best I’m gonna do this. Tell me the best time to initiate this venture within this timeframe that you can find.” And most of the time, in my approach, in my opinion, it’s not my job to tell them ‘you shouldn’t do this’. It’s just your job is to find the best time you possibly can in that timeframe, even if from your perspective, as the astrologer, it doesn’t look like a particularly great time to do whatever the thing is, let’s say.

AC: I totally agree. This is just getting my brain going a little bit. I would be interested to see people who have some difficulties augured in their 7th house situation. Or let’s say they have Mars in the 7th or they have Saturn conjunct the ruler of the 7th; you know, something that shows struggle and difficulty in the relationship area. If somebody has difficulty like that augured, the relationships stick and are actually that lifelong union or whatever, ‘bad’ synastry or difficult synastry wouldn’t actually be a sign that those people are going to be together because that is how the partnership life is described in the chart. Does that make sense?

CB: Well, no, that totally happens. There’s scenarios, and I’ve seen this, where the person has met the love of their life, but what happens at some point is that the love of their life dies tragically at some point. And the person who survives, in their natal chart, there was an indication for something like that, for suffering a loss in the area of relationship or marriage. But it’s not that you needed to not have that relationship. That was still the love of that person’s life. But even if they lost that person, in almost all instances, they still would have done it over again. If you gave them a choice and you said, “Make a choice between meeting the love of your life and having a relationship and having it cut short versus not so you can avoid that negative experience,” most of the time they’re gonna do it.

AC: Yeah, or if it’s the love of your life, and you guys fight like assholes all the time, but it’s still the love of your life.

CB: Right.

KS: Yeah.

CB: I mean, obviously there’s the other side which is the person’s in an abusive relationship, and they think it’s their soulmate, and they’re staying in it for the wrong reasons. And that’s tricky as well; there’s like weird lines. and we’re getting way far afield office on this question.

KS: But these are really good questions. I mean, we really appreciate our listeners’ enthusiasm for the question and callout. ‘Cause Twitter kind of blew up with all the questions we got.

CB: Right.

KS: And a lot of the questions were about how we handle stuff with clients. And I think what our conversation is alluding to is it’s very nuanced, and in some situations it’s really case-by-case. I’m like, well, somebody in a situation where it’s abusive and they’re not sure if it’s abuse, but as an outsider you’re like, “This is clearly an abusive situation,” I may not necessarily say you should leave, but I’m gonna say, “What you’re describing fits this criteria,” if you like.

CB: Yeah, definitely. And this reminds me—because we got so many practitioner questions, and because I’m seeing so many newer astrologers coming in that are starting to do consultations and are having questions like this—several years ago, I think it was in 2012 or 2013, I started a Facebook group for professional astrologers. And it got way too popular and I couldn’t deal with moderating it, so I closed it off, so there hasn’t been new members for years. But I was thinking about opening it up again recently to give some younger astrologers a place to talk with other practitioners about some of these issues, as well as other business issues. So I think I’m gonna do that. And in the description page for this episode, I’ll probably put a link to that group if people would like to join it to discuss some of these things. Yeah, just in order to have a sounding board for how other professional astrologers deal with different practical or consulting or ethical types of issues like this. All right, so we are two-and-a-half hours into this episode.

KS: I know.

CB: It took us like an hour to get into the actual Q&A. How are you guys doing?

KS: But we have done an hour-and-a-half of Q&A.

CB: Yeah. Austin, I see the Sun has set.

KS: He’s lost his light.

CB: So that gives me some indication of how long we’ve been talking. We got up to one of the—I don’t say highest voted. But most people liked this question by Arthur more than any of the others, and I don’t know if you guys want to touch on it, or end on it, or if we should just end on the high note of what we were just talking about. How do you guys feel? Where are you at?

AC: Um, I could probably do another one or two questions. I think I’d like to go get a drink if it doesn’t bother you that it’s cocktail hour here, as announced by the Sun.

CB: Right.

KS: As announced by the lack of the Sun.

CB: I mean, you’re talking about just running and grabbing something really quick, not going out for drinks and coming back.

AC: Yeah, I’m gonna go bar hop for two hours.

CB: Two hours later, Austin stumbles back into the room.

KS: Oh, my gosh. Yeah, I mean, I’m happy to do one or two more. I really like Charm’s question around preparation.

CB: I do too.

KS: Maybe we do Charm and Arthur.

CB: Okay.

AC: I’ll be right back.

KS: Yeah, Austin will be right back in two minutes, and Chris and I shall fill the airspace. We’ll talk about something.

KS: Something.

CB: I mean, one person here—this is @elementalcosmos—asks, “Is there any merit/value to 12-letter astrology?” And by that I think he’s asking about the ‘12-letter alphabet’ that’s very common in modern astrology, but wasn’t used in ancient or traditional astrology, that Aries equals the 1st house, and Taurus equals the 2nd house. That’s how a lot of modern astrologers generate significations of the houses by equating them with the signs through that close, one-on-one connection.

KS: Yeah.

CB: I guess we talked about this a bit already on our ‘signs’ episode.

KS: ‘Sign episode, yeah. We did talk a little bit. I mean, the short answer is I personally didn’t find it super valuable. And if I was to quote Lee Lehman, her approach is that she wants to beat that approach out of being used basically. And I think it’s a really lovely entry point because it kind of simplifies things. But I know from my own experience and with students that as you get into the nuances of what signs specifically is on the 2nd house in this chart, rather than just assuming every 2nd house has a ‘Taurus’ vibe, you will instantly transform and improve the specificity and the accuracy of your chart interpretation. So for my money as a working astrologer, the faster I could get away from that approach—I was originally trained in that approach. Like you, Chris, and I know, Austin, too, we were originally trained in the modern approach because 15-20 years ago there wasn’t as much choice as there is now.

CB: Yeah, it’s one of those things that’s just ubiquitous and is taken for granted in most or all astrological texts written in the late 20th century. It’s another one of those things, like with the nodes, where it turns out if you go back a few decades before that you see it used less and less and less until it becomes non-existent prior to the 17th century.

KS: Yeah. I feel like it’s a great starting point, but you can do a lot better by switching out that approach for the more chart-specific, what sign is pairing with what house in this chart.

CB: Right. It’s like a shortcut or a band-aid I think that often unfortunately gets used to not fully understand the astronomical rationale for the houses and the reasons why they mean what they mean, even though it’s a completely different reference point than the zodiac. It’s like the zodiac is the ecliptic and the planets moving around in the tropical zodiac relative to the equinoxes and the solstices, whereas the houses are like this whole other frame of reference of planets like rising and culminating and setting and anti-culminating. Yeah, so the houses originally developed their significations largely for very different reasons that didn’t really have to do with that zodiac sort of reference point, or that 12-letter alphabet.

And so, a large part of my journey—and I think all of our journeys over the past decade or so since the mid-2000s when we all got into traditional astrology—was unlearning that approach and relearning how to use the houses by understanding what they mean inherently without having to refer to or rely on other things like the zodiac. And you can actually see me going through and processing and talking about that in more detail in Episode 17 of The Astrology Podcast, which was titled “The Rationale for the Significations of the Houses,” where I go into a lot of detail on this issue.

KS: You also wrote a paper on that topic too, I believe.

CB: Yeah, it was titled “The Planetary Joys and the Origins of the Significations of the Houses and Triplicities,” which if you do a Google search it’ll come up with that paper. And it’s about the planetary joys, which were the traditional associations between which planets were assigned to certain houses and how those assignments sometimes were the reasons why certain significations started to become associated with certain houses. That being said, I’ve been going through this phase over the past few months where I’ve been pulling back a little bit. And I don’t know if it’s just like my rebelliousness or my sense of contrariety, of being like a contrarian sometimes, but I’ve been seeing a lot of traditional astrologers almost going too far in rejecting the modern approach or modern meanings of the houses and asserting the traditional meanings and the joys and stuff as the ‘one true approach’.

And I’m starting to have an issue with that because there are some instances where I think through something like the ‘Rudhyarian’ idea of different parts of a cycle having certain inherent meanings that there might still be overlaps where the 12-letter alphabet could be relevant or is relevant in assigning certain significations in a very limited sense. And I don’t have as much of an issue with that as some traditional astrologers do. I just think people need to be careful not to take it too far and not to abuse it or rely on it as a substitute for actually understanding why the houses mean what they mean astronomically. And that’s sort of where I’ve been going lately. That’s kind of a new development.

AC: I have like five things to say.

CB: Okay.

KS: Okay, cool.

AC: So, one, my experience of disentangling the signs and houses, which was a long time ago, the result of that was, “Oh, houses finally work.”

CB: Right. They work

AC: They do exactly what they’re supposed to. Rather than flavor it was like, “Oh, no, that planet affects money because it’s in the 2nd house.”

CB: Right.

AC: It’s not like, oh, it’s in Aries, but it’s got a Taurus vibe to it. It’s like, no, it’s a planet in Aries in the 2nd house, it affects money. Oh, look, there it is affecting money, so there was that.

CB: So it was more effective. ‘Cause it’s not that they weren’t completely effective, but suddenly the houses were much more effective in using them in chart delineations.

AC: Yeah, finally what they were supposed to do, they did precisely, rather than—

CB: Sharper.

AC: Yeah, kind of maybe squishy-wiggly.

CB: I think ‘sharper’ is a good keyword maybe to express that.

AC: Or as my friend Gordon would say, it provides a higher resolution image.

CB: That’s good. I like that. Okay, so that’s thought number one. One of five.

AC: And then two through five are a set. I’m glad you brought up joys because if you do the 12-letter alphabet thing, you miss all of the planet’s actual relationships to the houses. You miss all of the house joys. And so, in Jyotish, every planet has a karaka or karakas, which are indicators. And so, they’re indicators for that house activity, right?

CB: Each house has a karaka, you mean.

AC: One or more, right?

CB: Right.

AC: So the 10th house, because it’s your work in the world, looks at Mercury for part of your professional action, it looks at Saturn for another part, Sun for the reputation part; all of those are indicators for the 10th. And there are places where the indicators overlap with the natural rulers where Venus is an indicator for the 7th. Yes, Venus is. I always look at Venus when I’m evaluating relationship questions. The Moon is an indicator for the 4th. But just because the systems match perfectly there doesn’t mean that everything matches. Imagine thinking of Jupiter as an indicator for the 12th. And then finally as sort of a dark side obsidian mirror to planetary joys in Parashara, there are positions where planets feel like dying, right? They’re like, “Oh, God, anything but this.” They’re basically ‘planetary miseries’ and they are not the opposite of the joys as they are in Bonatti and some of the Medieval texts, which I don’t think works.

For example, Venus is in her misery or feels like dying in the 6th, right? Venus doesn’t want to be there, right? Venus is in her misery in the 11th ‘cause it’s opposite to 5th. And then you have things like Jupiter’s in his misery in the 3rd ‘cause it’s so mundane and he wants to be doing majestic priestly stuff over in the 9th. And so, between the indicators, the joys, the miseries, and all of these other house/planet relationships, if you do the 12-letter alphabet, you miss all of that texture and all of that accuracy. And why learn it wrong? Even if it’s training wheels, it’s like training wheels that you have to take apart the entire bike in order to take the training wheels off. I don’t think it’s worth it. I don’t think it’s a useful approach. It’ll keep your astrology at a very low level and you’re gonna have to reprogram and un-think a bunch of things if you want to be able to get better than that.

CB: See, and what’s funny about that though is you’re invoking like the Indian assignments, which are just completely and radically—most of the time, at least half of them—just radically different than any of the Western assignments, like the joys and things like that. And there’s some traditional—

AC: Well, the karakas and joys are different things. They’re not two competing systems.

CB: But there’s a system in Indian astrology of assigning certain planets to certain houses, and in some of those assignments it’s the same as the Western one, and in others it’s radically different. And some Medieval or Renaissance Western astrologers—like contemporary traditional, sort of more fundamentalist-type astrologers—would reject even that and say, “These are the true assignments, the joys.” And so, the point that I’m just bringing up is I sometimes have some uneasiness when people go too hard in saying that something like astrology, which is based on symbolism—and it’s an interpretive art that has some flexibility—when they go too hard or too fundamentalist about some one thing just because there are different approaches that can have different symbolic value, and that almost becomes the context of this question.

Let’s say we’ve gotten past the point of needing to reject or justify our rejection of the 12-letter alphabet as being the bedrock or the foundation of the significations of the houses—because we all agree that that’s not the case. But it’s almost like we’re moving past that point, and now we’re at a discussion of can the houses have other significations or other conceptual structures that we can draw meaning from besides the joys in that basic, fundamental Western approach that was laid 2,000 years ago. Can there be other conceptual structures? And right away by invoking the Indian approach, your answer de facto becomes ‘yes’ basically ‘cause you’re invoking a different conceptual structure for understanding the meaning of the houses that is not just the planetary joys.

AC: Well, I see what you’re saying, and I think this is a subtle enough question that it deserves the nuance that we’re trying to give it. So the house indicators—those planets are not assigned to those houses as the anchor for the signification of the houses. They are a practical tool where if you are looking into, for example, 7th house topics, then in addition to the 7th, what’s in the 7th, what rules the 7th and its condition, you should also look at Venus because Venus’ topics overlap with the 7th. It’s not saying that the 7th derives its significations from Venus.

CB: Okay. So that’s more like the idea of—what is that called in traditional astrology? It has a name. In Western astrology it’s like the natural ruler of a signification.

KS: The natural ruler, yeah.

CB: Versus the—

KS: Chart-specific or accidental—

CB: Accidental. Yeah, like the accidental ruler versus, whatever, the house ruler.

AC: Right.

KS: Yes. And to your point, Austin, I approach things exactly the same way. If I’m looking at relationships, I’m gonna look at the 7th, the 7th ruler, what’s in the 7th, and I’m gonna look at Venus. And there are techniques from the traditional literature where it’s like look at the triplicity rulers of Venus to look at the different experiences in relationships throughout life basically. Yeah, so I can see that, and the Moon and the 4th, for sure. And I think that’s a beautiful point that you make. Just because there is some crossover there—because the natural signification of this planet is the same topic as this place in the chart—it doesn’t mean that we’ll get all the crossovers.

AC: Yeah. And we’re not saying that planet rules that house. That’s a new relationship.

KS: No.

CB: Right.

KS: Yeah.

CB: Okay, so let’s reframe it a little bit. ‘Cause this question is coming from @elementalcosmos and I’m spacing out his name. But he’s the lovely guy that helped us record the live recording of The Astrology Podcast at UAC earlier this year, and he’s a modern astrologer. And so, his question is coming from the perspective of, “Okay, all of you guys who have gotten into traditional astrology have rejected the 12-letter alphabet and adopted older forms of dealing with the house significations and driving their meaning.” And he’s saying is there, despite that, any value to the 12-letter alphabet? And the answer that I’ve been coming to more is, yes, there might be some loose affiliations.

And I don’t have a problem with that coming from the Rudhyarian idea of deriving different parts of a cycle and having different meanings. Like the opposition on some level, which then gets associated with the 7th house, having some loose association with relationships. The waning square, which coincides with the 10th house, almost having on some level some—I don’t want to say Capricorn-type significations—but almost loosely headed in that direction. I don’t have a full way to articulate this yet, but I don’t have a full reason to reject that entirely. I just think it gets abused and overused in modern astrology. But I’m open to exploring if there’s anything that might be useful about that approach now that I’ve significantly divorced the basis of my understanding of the houses from that.

AC: I think that’s in Parashara, the Aries/1st house thing. That’s not what you use for most things, but that’s noted. That’s there too.

CB: I mean, if that’s true, if that is in Parashara. I don’t know if that’s true ‘cause I haven’t read all of Parashara. But if that is true then that would be the earliest origin of that that I’ve heard of.

AC: It’s either Parashara or it’s Jaimini. I can look it up later.

CB: Okay. Jaimini is a little later. Kelly, what do you think? Do you feel uncomfortable with where I’m going with this?

KS: No, no, no. I guess I’m a little surprised because I’m like, okay, you’re circling a little. Like you’ve kind of come back a little to maybe where you started from, but with the understanding and experience of what you’ve picked up along the way.

CB: Yeah, I mean, that’s been my process. I spent 10 years working on a book on Hellenistic astrology and divorcing my understanding of the foundations of astrology by rebuilding it based on this is the original system, this is where it came from, let’s see if I could practice it entirely within this context and understand astrology entirely within this context. But now it’s like I finished the book and now I’m able to catch up again on some of the good parts of modern astrology that I didn’t forget about, but I’m just reacquainting myself with. And so, I’m dealing with some of these questions again in terms of how we synthesize modern and ancient astrology, and what are some of the pieces from both that we should retain. And so, the fundamental question this guy’s asking is, is there even a sliver of a little piece of that approach that should be retained. That’s the question.

KS: Yeah. And so, the pieces that you’re saying should be approached are maybe from the Rudhyarian approach of the aspect relationship of the houses to the 1st can kind of connect to the planetary quality in some way.

CB: I mean, that was Rudhyar’s attempt to rationalize that approach, and so that’s what a lot of modern astrologers will point to in order to explain why there should be this overlap. And I’m sort of open to it on some level, but it comes down to basic things in a practical sense. Like why should the 3rd house have to do with communication at all?

KS: Yeah.

CB: Is that coming from the Moon having its joy there? Where is that coming from? Some sort of broadly speaking Gemini-type quality that may or may not be expressing itself on some level with the 3rd house?

KS: Okay. Yeah, okay, this is a really good discussion. I mean, I was trained originally it’s Gemini/3rd house communication.

CB: Right.

KS: And then I learned about the Moon, and particularly Deb Houlding’s book, Houses: Temples of the Sky, I think. And I know maybe she’s a controversial figure to mention on the podcast, I’m not sure, but that book is really interesting. It talks about the Egyptian connections to the cycle of the Sun and how that feeds into the meaning of the houses. But when she touches on the joys of the planets there too, particularly with the 3rd house, I found that really quite striking. She spoke to the magic of language and the written word. Originally, writing wasn’t something that everybody did, it was a special type of skill, and people with that had better communication skills, for instance; and she does talk about that being connected to the Moon. And she even links the piece of the travel component of the 3rd house—the short journeys or this constant ‘toing-and-froing’—with the movement of the Moon being sort of constantly changing, constantly shifting. That to me seemed a more richer or more nuanced approach to the 3rd house, but the interesting thing is we end up in the same place, whether we come at it from a Gemini or a Moon thing.

CB: Right. This is what I’m struggling with—and you’ll hear me struggling with it in Episode 17 of the podcast—as I was working on a lecture on the Hellenistic signification of the houses. When you read the delineation texts, they don’t talk about communication having to do with the 3rd house.

AC: Actually I can think of a specific example that does in Firmicus.

CB: Okay. Well, hold that thought for just a second.

KS: Yeah, yeah, yeah.

CB: In 3rd house discussions in modern astrology, it’s very common to see the 3rd house discussed in the context of communication. The further and further back you go in the tradition, the less and less frequently you see that happening. And so, while I understand what you’re talking about and that makes some sense to me, Kelly, I feel like that’s partially on Deb’s part an attempt to justify and provide more historical justification for something—

KS: After the fact.

CB: After the fact, that was more commonly done in modern astrology.

KS: Okay.

CB: And part of what I was struggling with was trying to figure out how much of this stuff that I think is a genuine thing—that we could associate with certain houses—is based on the traditional justification versus the modern justifications. So that aside, Austin, go.

AC: Okay. Yeah, sorry, I didn’t mean to contradict or attack your point. I just literally had a thought about that. So there is a combination that Firmicus delineates when he’s talking about planets in signs. Or excuse me, planets in houses and then more complicated configurations that are piled on top of a single planet in a house, in a given sect. And he’s talking about Mercury in the 3rd, and he gives a combination for a great orator who basically will get everything that they want out of life through their fantastic oration ability. And it is Mercury in the 3rd in a square with Mars, while Jupiter is in the 1st or 10th. And I was looking through this, and I was like, “Hold the phone. I know a chart that has this.” And it’s Conor McGregor’s chart, who is a fighter, and a pretty good fighter, but who makes literally 30 times as much as the people who have his skill level because of his giant mouth and his ability to promote things. And so, that’s all anchored to a Mercury in the 3rd with x & y conditions attached to it.

CB: When I was reading through the Hellenistic text, and I was desperately trying to find any justification I could a few years ago for communication being associated with the 3rd house, the issue I ran into is I couldn’t find ones where Mercury wasn’t involved in the delineation somehow. And so, in that instance, is the communication coming from the 3rd house, or is it because it’s Mercury?

AC: But here’s the thing—there aren’t other ‘great orator’ combinations given by Firmicus. They are like, “Oh, yeah, you’ll be good at math if it’s here,” or “You’ll make a serviceable scribe.” But the great orator—it’s (a yoga) combination that’s given in Firmicus. It starts with Mercury in the 3rd; it needs other things to fire. But it’s not fair to ignore the fact that this fantastic orator combination is anchored by Mercury in the 3rd in the context of this conversation.

CB: Sure. I would challenge anybody that’s curious about this, especially traditional astrologers, to go through Firmicus—where he delineate planets in all the houses—and look and see if he talks consistently about communication being a 3rd house issue, when he talks about other planets being in the 3rd house. Because I had a really hard time. even though I wanted to, trying to justify communication being a more general traditional topic in the early tradition based on those delineations. And that was what made me wonder more is it coming from something else. Anyway that’s a whole aside.

KS: I mean, this is a very good discussion. I just bought a second copy of Firmicus.

AC: Can I read one sentence I just flipped open to?

CB: Is that what you’re doing? You’re both looking off. I thought you’re looking at your phones, or that you were done with this conversation.

KS: Oh, my God. No, I’m not looking at my phone. Are you kidding me?

CB: You’re both feverishly pulling open your copies of Firmicus for those that are not watching the video.

AC: This is what I opened to. “The Sun in the third house indicates an evil death. It also makes the native sickly, but respectable and serious in counsel.

CB: Right. So listen to that. That’s not—

KS: Hang on. “They will carry on public business, be administrators of estates or managers of the imperial treasury if Jupiter and Mercury are in favorable aspect.

AC: ‘Serious in counsel’, I would say that counsel is communicative.

CB: Well, see, that’s one of the things that was an issue. Because in that lecture that I created when I was doing this, I have this whole slide about how they were associating the Moon and the 3rd house with private city cults and city administrations in Egypt versus the Sun in the 9th house with the national cult. And there was this whole thing about associating priests with both the 3rd house and the 9th house, but that the 9th house had to do with the national cult and national holidays, whereas the 3rd house had to do with the local ruler cult and the local holidays, and some of the priests being associated with both and all sorts weird things that were relative to 1st century BCE Greco-Egyptian culture. Yeah, it’s really complicated and it’s hard to parse a bunch of those significations because you have to understand the cultural context. And that was something I went through when I was writing that chapter of my book, Hellenistic Astrology: The Study of Fate and Fortune, available at fine bookstores everywhere.

KS: Everywhere.

CB: Austin’s holding it up.

KS: Put that one up on the shelf.

AC: I have you and Firmicus and Parashara and a few other things within easy reach.

CB: Right.

AC: But, Chris, that’s an excellent point.

KS: It is a good point.

AC: The local cult (3rd) versus the national cult (9th) I think is a really good distinction. Also, I think that—and we’re getting pretty far afield—but I’m gonna go with it.

CB: Right.

AC: Whatever. People—

KS: Love our digressions.

AC: Almost half the listeners really like our digressions.

CB: They’ve sat through like three hours of this, and they’re gonna tune out.

AC: And those that don’t like tuned out a half-an-hour ago. But I also think that the religious activity that you see with planets in the 3rd delineated Firmicus is also because I think there’s a whole sign aspect to the 9th. That planet is looking right at the 9th.

CB: Right.

AC: And so, the 9th receives its effulgence.

CB: See, I mean, that’s so interesting though because then that could then tie it back to at least where Rudhyar was trying to go in rationalizing it. He was saying that the 1st house is like the conjunction in the beginning of the cycle, and then you have the opening sextile and the opening square at the 3rd and 4th, and then you have the opening trine at the 5th, and the opposition at the 7th, and so on and so forth. So this is Rudhyar like trying to rationalize the modern 12-letter alphabet and tie together the different levels of symbolism in a chart. But, I don’t know, there’s stuff. What were you gonna say, Kelly?

KS: I was just gonna say the cult business, I mean, dea and deus are the names that Maternus gives for the 3rd and 9th, which are not uncommon in his time period.

CB: God and goddess.

KS: Exactly, the god and goddess. The masculine sort of god figure in the 9th and then the feminine goddess figure in the 3rd. And I guess, for me, I was like, well that makes sense if it’s got this ‘goddess-y’ image. And some of the delineations Firmicus is talking about is with Venus there you have the priestess in the temple or something.

CB: Right.

KS: So you get I guess that feminine energy. And of course the joys are the Sun in the 9th and the Moon in the 3rd, but that doesn’t have anything to do with writing necessarily.

CB: Yeah. And I was trying to squeeze out at some point that, well, temple priests were sometimes or often literate, and they were copying over texts and that was an important role in the temple duties. And I was like trying to pull something out of it if I could, but it almost becomes not relevant in this time where we’re trying to develop what is the conceptual structure underlying our understanding of the houses in modern times that’s true and is timeless on some level.

KS: Yeah, this is a very good point. I feel like this is gonna give us all, funnily enough, plenty of food for thought and more Mercury reading and research to do.

CB: Yeah. And we don’t have to answer it now. But like I said, Episode 17, I had a two-hour discussion where I was trying to process and deal with this question. So go back and listen to that if you want even bigger discussion of it.

KS: Okay.

CB: Okay, are you guys ready to move on? I see you’re both still reading copies of Firmicus, so I don’t know if I should drag us onto the final question.

AC: Let’s do another question.

KS: We’re gonna have to wrap up probably in the next 10 minutes.

CB: Okay, let’s do two really fast. One of them is Arthur’s, Arthur Lipp-Bonewits on Twitter @lipandbone. So he says, “Where do the three of you disagree the most?” And you guys, before we started, said we wanted to do this question but you couldn’t really think of areas where we disagree. I actually have one that I wanted to bring up that might make for a good brief discussion.

AC: Oh, my.

KS; And I love how you spring this on us in the live and you don’t prep us. It’s great.

CB: Yeah, I didn’t prep you for it.

AC: That’s good television.

CB: It’s all right. It’s not a big deal.

KS: You’re a smart producer, Chris.

CB: It’s an interesting discussion topic. It actually comes out of the ‘signs’ episode that we did. The two episodes we did on the signs of the zodiac, Episodes 175 and 180, where we had a little bit of disagreement at the beginning. I outlined it as approaching it from the conceptual structure of the four basic qualities of the signs of the zodiac, which are the traditional planet that rules the sign, the quadruplicity or modality of the sign, the triplicity or element, and then finally, traditionally, the gender of the sign, which is masculine or feminine. But you guys both were more or less on the same page about saying that you don’t like saying ‘masculine’ or ‘feminine’, but you prefer to say ‘yin’ or ‘yang’.

KS: I’m glad you brought this point up actually.

CB: So there was a follow-up part of that ‘cause there’s been a lot of discussion about that in the community.

AC: You accused me of cultural appropriation on Twitter, Chris.

CB: Yeah, yeah, a minor detail. I wanted to bring it up because that has always been my objection to it. I don’t feel like I’ve ever seen it come up. I’m open to it. I understand the reasons why people want to not assign masculine or feminine to the signs, but I’ve never found anybody that’s come up with a good alternative solution, And I don’t like the ‘yin and yang’ one. And I confirmed this by actually talking to Jeffrey Kotyk—he’s like a scholar of Chinese astrology that I interviewed last month—and he said yin and yang are traditionally gendered in Chinese philosophy, and one is explicitly associated with masculine and one with feminine.

AC: So I need to be able to use it. And I might as well here because I have been slandered by you, my friend.

CB: Right. Let me just finish the thought of the initial objection. The issue I have is just that I feel like by taking that—and I did use the term ‘appropriating’ ‘cause on some level it feels like that to me, but I’m not trying to go too far with whatever loaded word that means. My issue is just that I feel like that masks it. By using a foreign philosophical or conceptual term like yin and yang, it masks the issue by using terms that we’re not as familiar with and have a different sort of conceptual or rich philosophical background, even though ultimately on some level it might still mean masculine and feminine.

AC: Right.

CB: And I worry that that’s just masking the issue instead of finding a true alternative.

AC: Well, I will explain to you why you’re incorrect.

CB: Okay. And you have more of the background in Chinese philosophy due to your background in martial arts.

AC: Yeah, I’ve been doing Chinese martial arts for 20 years. You have to learn these terms if you want to learn the techniques.

CB: Sure.

AC: So Tai Chi—the thing that people call the ‘yin/yang’ is actually called the ‘Tai Chi’. When you study Tai Chi, you’re studying the interplay of yin and yang, right? So the issue here is, and why I prefer it, is that, yes, when yang is manifested as gender it is masculine. When yin is manifested as gender it is feminine. However these are meta terms. Yang means ‘day’ and ‘up’ and ‘outward’ to exactly the same degree that it means ‘masculine’. And so, it is not the term masculine which only refers to masculine. Yang refers to anything that is yang. Light is more yang than darkness. Rising is more yang than falling, right?

And so, even though it involves the masculine and feminine, it is merely involving them as one of 10,000 instances in which yang could occur. And so, it is inherently a meta term rather than a specifically gendered term. If I were to say ‘masculine’ that would only refer to what is masculine, that wouldn’t necessarily refer to ‘rising’ or ‘day’ or any of the rest of it. And so, yin and yang—they’re much more meta terms that refer to literally half of reality at once. And so, even though it might refer to masculine if you were to pick a gender for that term, it is not the same thing as reducing a sign to a gendered expression.

CB: Sure. I mean, in the Western tradition, those two terms are understood to have that broader meta meaning, especially being derived ultimately from Pythagorean numerology of masculine being associated with odd numbers and feminine being associated with even numbers, which is where that comes from. It’s understood that there’s interchangeability with day and night also being associated with those two or different things like that.

AC: But that’s clearly not the case from the way that astrology works in that era. Because you have Mars, which is a masculine planet, which is assigned to the night sect, right?

CB: Well, there’s tricky reasons for that.

AC: Right. But that is also true. And so, if you’re depending on one instance of yang to imply the meta concept of yang you’ve created an extra step to get to the meta concept, which is what you’re trying to refer to in the first place.

CB: Yeah, I understand. I could totally concede your point that it’s more accessible, that you’re jumping straighter to the underlying meta concept by using those terms. I just worry that it’s still substituting something that’s completely not absent of gender and that in actual Chinese philosophy, traditional Chinese philosophy, that gender might be a more integral component of that that’s being taken for granted sometimes which could be problematic in some ways. If you’re just substituting one sort of genderization for another on some level, even if it’s removed a little bit, that’s all. What do you think, Kelly? Where are you with this?

KS: Well, I think there’s some really good points here. And it’s really funny that you brought this thing up because I was actually thinking about it when I was in the kitchen the other day. In practice, I usually use the phrases ‘feminine’ or ‘masculine’. And I often clarify with a client or with students that what I mean is sort of a tone that is feminine in nature, that I’m sort of explicitly not describing something that is ‘only female’, but more the receptive, introspective type of experience if I use that phrase. Obviously, Austin, I don’t have your background there. And when I hear yin and yang used a lot in modern conversation it is often alluding to that dichotomy of differences.

Even though it doesn’t only mean masculine versus feminine, it is often invoked in that kind of context, I guess. The nuances that you just shared where the yang means ‘day’ and ‘bright’ as much as it means ‘male’—or ‘masculine’, sorry—I really like that. I was like, “Oh, I learned something there.” That’s fantastic. That gives me a better understanding for the yin and yang approach. I think it’s a really tricky debate and it’s coming from a place I think for all of us where we’re trying to be thoughtful and considerate, but also clear in the message and trying to find the right words to convey these tones that we’re trying to discuss.

CB: Yeah, I mean, there’s just complicated issues that astrologers are starting to talk about and deal with more in the past decade or two involving gender and involving contemporary discussions about that is a tricky topic. And astrology itself is or is in the process or will grow and change and adapt to the cultural sensibilities of its time, as it always does and as it always has on some level. There’s like some part of it that stays consistent, but there’s some part of it that’s always in flux, adapting to the culture of its day. So it’s just a genuine discussion that astrologers are having and kind of need to have now about what’s appropriate or what is truly reflective of our current understanding and culture in terms of certain terms and things.

I was just trying to explain ‘cause I didn’t want to be painted into the position of being the person that was wedded to and was still promoting an old and outdated viewpoint. And that’s the only reason I wanted to bring this up and push back on that a little bit ‘cause I was a little concerned that by not adopting the ‘yin and yang’ thing, that it could put me in an awkward position. But I wanted to explain the only reason I didn’t do that was because I was concerned that it might be masking the issue rather than truly coming up with an alternative, which I’m otherwise open to.

AC: Yeah. And also, to come back to the ‘cultural appropriation’ thing, I use those terms because I’ve done a bunch of Chinese martial arts and studied I Ching for a long time.

CB: Right.

AC: And so, when I say ‘yin and yang’ that’s where I’m coming from. If you’re not familiar with those terms other than just casually then you probably don’t really know. If you haven’t studied that then maybe that is appropriation.

CB: Yeah, whereas I haven’t, and that’s why I would feel awkward phrasing it in that way just because that’s not part of my otherwise background or underlying philosophy or understanding.

AC: Yeah. And I suppose my teaching it that way and thinking about it that way is obviously a result of what I’ve done and studied.

CB: Right.

KS: Yes.

AC: And so, of the things that I’m familiar with, I’m like, “Oh, that is the best match to that.”

KS: Yes. And that’s I think key here. Austin, you’re using terms that are fully authentic and have integrity for you because of your background and familiarity, not just with the words, but with the whole philosophy. As you said, your background with martial arts is longstanding. So, Chris, you’re kind of saying that you don’t have that connection, and therefore it feels inauthentic or somehow not right for you to use those types of terms.

CB: Yeah. I just wrote a book on Greco-Roman astrology. And I’m very familiar with and I’m comfortable with discussing Western astrology as originally developing in a Greco-Roman, Egyptian and Mesopotamian cultural and philosophical context, and I’ve rebuilt my astrology largely in that context over the past 10 years. But if I was to take this other concept or these words from Chinese philosophy and then place them into that, it would just be notable to me that I’m taking some foreign philosophical concept that I don’t fully understand and placing it into a different or a foreign philosophical model that I am familiar with. So that was just the ‘uncomfortableness’ that I’ve had and wrestling with and trying to think about this issue and try to come up with something that I’m comfortable with that would be genuine to the philosophical systems that I have any sort of familiarity with. Yeah, was that a good controversial issue? It was controversial, but we talked it out without necessarily throwing chairs at each other.

KS: I feel like we’re all still friends after.

CB: Right.

KS: I also think too, to Arthur’s question about what do we all disagree about the most, in the grand scheme of things to disagree about, I feel like we’re in a very Virgo good place where we’re discussing words, and the words have very powerful meanings. But the concept behind, we would all have ‘agree-ance’ around what we might define as yin or feminine or masculine or yang, if you like.

CB: Yeah, definitely, I think so. Are we cool, Austin? I wasn’t charging you with cultural appropriation so much as I was saying I know would feel—

AC: You totally did that on Twitter, but it’s Twitter and it doesn’t matter.

KS: I remember the tweet now.

AC: I was traveling and I was like, “Really, Chris?” I was like, “He didn’t mean it that way.” That was literally as much mental space as it took up.

CB: Okay, good.

AC: I just want to throw that in your face a little bit.

CB: All right, all right, I deserve that and I appreciate it. Good.

KS: I like it.

CB: Was that sufficient? I think Arthur got what he wanted. I think he’ll be very happy.

AC: I honestly didn’t know what we were gonna talk about for that question. I was confused why you took it, but well done. Well done finding the controversy.

CB: It just tied in with an issue that was like a lingering thing for me after the zodiac signs things. ‘Cause if you go back and listen to that episode, it’s like I set that up at the beginning saying here’s the four qualities, we’re going to consistently talk about these. And I would, at the opening of each sign, say it’s a masculine science of feminine sign, and you guys would switch and start saying yin and yang. And so, there was a noticeable difference between us when we were talking about it.

AC: It’s pronounced yang, Chris.

CB: Yin and yang. See, I can’t even pronounce it correctly, so that’s why I shouldn’t be using it in any context whatsoever.

KS: Oh, beautiful.

CB: So I just thought it would be a good continuation of something that was left that I felt was worth coming back to.

AC: No, that was totally worth rounding back on again ‘cause I wanted to articulate why I was choosing that.

CB: Right.

AC: Basically the way I see it is that just as we have the 2, the 3, and the 4, what we’re looking at are basically number-based concepts, and that with two we’re looking at polarity. At least for me, yin and yang is a quicker access route to the essence of polarity and thinking about polarity, and that masculine and feminine, just like diurnal and nocturnal, require an extra step because you’re picking an instance and then you have to go to the general and then understand it. And by not using words that locate a particular instance of a yin-yang relationship, you’re saving a step. And so, anyway, I appreciate you bringing it up. That’s why I use it because I think it’s more efficient.

CB: Yeah, and it’s funny that what you’re describing is a sort of numerology underlying it. And as I wrote in my book, in this chapter, all the historians think the underlying motivation for the Greek concept was Pythagorean numerology, that assigned a certain quality to 1’s and a certain quality to 2’s, and then alternated odd and even. Although, ironically, that still creates an issue where you’re creating a system based on duality or what you could otherwise phrase as a sort of binary understanding. And then that becomes difficult because the modern discussion is about whether binary constructs are still appropriate in terms of framing astrological delineations and some of the things associated with that become problematic.

AC: Well, I would say numbers which can be divided by two can be meaningfully thought about in terms of a binary. It’s not useful to apply a binary to 13 or 21.

KS: No.

AC: But you can do that with 12.

CB: Sure. All right, there was one more question we were gonna take I think, I believe from Charm Torres, if you guys are still up for it.

AC: Why not.

KS: Let’s do it, Chris.

CB: All right, final question. So this is from @charm_astrology on Twitter. She says,
Can one of you run us down on your preps? How much time does it take you now compared to when you were first starting? Can be for a natal reading or for an annual update.” So she’s saying how long does it take you to prep for an astrological consultation, both in terms of when you were first getting started versus now at your present state? Do you guys prep? Do you have prep time? Some astrologers don’t prep. So that’s the first premise of the question. Are we all on the same page that we prep?

AC: I am on ‘Team Prep’.

CB: ‘Team Prep’, okay.

AC: Saturn in Virgo conjunct the North Node is on ‘Team Prep’.

CB: Yeah, I think we all prep. I just know some astrologers—like Rick Levine says he doesn’t prep. He just casts the chart and goes and that’s his approach.

AC: Rick Levine is a special creature.

KS: I know other astrologers on Rick Levine’s level from that generation or that level of seniority or experience that are ‘we’ll just sit down and go’.

CB: Right. Okay, so how much time do you two guys take to prep?

AC: So I take less time than I used to, right?

CB: Okay, so I think we all agree across the board. I think everyone’s gonna say we probably took a lot of time to prep at the beginning, and we’ve over the years winnowed that down to whatever our current situation is.

AC: When I first got back from Project Hindsight in 2006, my prep time became like an hour-and-a-half because I had learned all of these new technical factors. And so, I would have to sit with the chart and go over everything, and be like, “Oh, is Jupiter occidental or oriental?”

KS: Yeah.

AC: And now I can just see that stuff at a glance. My level of prep—and I imagine Kelly and I are gonna be on the same page here—is greatly dependent on the task that I am called to do or the question that I’m called to answer. Like some questions are really specific, and some are just like, “I don’t know. Can we look at stuff?” And it’s like, “Yeah, we can look at stuff.” I always like sit and get to know the chart, and some charts take longer to get to know. Sometimes I look at a chart, and I’m like, “This doesn’t say anything to me. Where’s the beef? Where’s the heart or the soul? Where is it?” And then some charts that punches you in the face.

KS: Yeah.

CB: Right.

AC: I would say to a certain degree it’s like detective work, and it’s how long does it take you to solve the mystery.

CB: So it varies for you?

AC: Yeah, it varies.

CB: Give me a range, let’s say.

AC: An hour to 15 minutes.

CB: Okay.

KS: Yeah. Yeah, I’m in that range too, Austin. I was like, “Are we actually gonna tell?” I love this ‘cause it’s like people sharing what they do. But, yeah, I usually allow about 45 minutes of prep time in the way that I structure my schedule. And sometimes I’ll sit down and I’ll feel like after 10 or 15 minutes I’m like, “Okay, I got this.” And other times I take the whole amount of time and I keep going basically, or I’m still digging, if you like. And when I first started I think I would take three or four hours to prep a chart. And the guideline that I often give to students is to think about the length of the session and then aim to have your prep be no longer than the length of the session. You’re not gonna start there, but that’s what you’re trying to work your way down to you. ‘Cause in the beginning sometimes students will take all day or all weekend to prep for a session.

CB: And there’s nothing wrong with that.

KS: There’s nothing wrong with that. Because what you’re doing in those early days—you’re calling it chart prep but you’re actually studying still. You’re still learning what does it mean to have this configuration. ‘Cause you’ve found it and then you’ve gone and read three books about it, so that you’re trying to confirm or clarify that you know what you want to say about it. And over time, with your experience and with the ongoing learning and professional development, you don’t need to go and read three books necessarily. You’re like, “I’ve seen this configuration before. I have a sense of it, and I’m gonna bring that and sit with the client and we’re gonna go into the dialogue with that.”

CB: Right. After you’ve done enough consultations, you’ve seen somebody that has Mercury in Aquarius in the 10th house. And so, you have a few anecdotes about this is how it worked out in this person’s life, and so you might say something about that past observation you made to the current client to see if that’s somehow relevant in their experience as well.

KS: Yeah, or you might see a particular aspect configuration with that Mercury. And instead of having to go and just double-check with three or four authors, you’ve already got a mental drop-down arrow of four or five different interpretations that you can offer.

CB: Right.

KS: I think in the beginning some of what we call prep—it’s that sort of very practical type of study, whereas as you get more proficient and more experienced you’re really just doing the prep and that does take up less time.

CB: Yeah, definitely. And everybody starts out doing a lot, and some people start out doing written reports, in which case you’re spending potentially like a day or like days working on it before delivering it to the client, but eventually you want to work your way down. And I worked my way down to an hour. But that’s primarily because I was almost doing zodiac releasing in every consultation, and I would want to print out the periods for the person and write notes next to them about which ones should be more active or more positive or more challenging, and then I would send that to the client ahead of time. And that would usually take me about an hour. And if I wasn’t doing that I might work it down to like 30 or 45 minutes of just casting the chart, glancing at the transits, what the current profection year is, and things like that, and then just force myself to go into the consultation with those basics down. But that’s something every astrologer has to work themselves up to through repetition and practice.

AC: Totally. One thing that I’ve found to be of great value is to just look at a chart, memorize the positions, and see what there is to see on first glance at least one night before, so that you can sleep on it and that whole chart is in your mind while you dream. And then when you look at the chart the next day—at least for me, I find that the chart opens up to me if I’ve had a sleep on it. It’s already in there and then I can do whatever with it.

CB: I’m sometimes nervous about that, that if I spend too much time on a previous day preparing instead of the day of the consultation that it won’t be as fresh in my mind. I sometimes have that nervousness about the podcast episodes as well where I’ll put off preparing the outline until the final day because then everything’s as fresh as possible and then I’m excited and can jump right into it versus having prepared before. But I could understand some instances where actually marinating on it a little bit would be useful.

AC: I think that my method or the thing that I was talking about is actually in alignment with that because I don’t do all of the analysis on the taking it in to just marinate. I just take in all of the positions and then I’ll do all the technical stuff after waking up. Does that make sense?

CB: Yeah.

KS: Yeah.

AC: I don’t get down on it and then go to sleep. I just take it all in so that I remember all the positions and can think about the relationships. I install that software in the hardware.

KS: Yes, and it’s running in the background.

AC: And then I use a hard analysis after waking up.

CB: I have this image of you printing out the chart and then placing it under your pillow the night before, and then waking up with it after being fully refreshed.

AC: That’s actually an awesome idea. I haven’t done that, but there’s no reason not to do that.

CB: It’s worth trying.

KS: Yeah, totally.

AC: A little dream incubation goes a long way.

CB: Right.

KS: And I think that point is a really beautiful one, Austin. Because I know with clients who I have worked with—maybe they come every year for an annual check-in, or we’ve done a number of sessions over a long period—you get deeper into a chart the more times you revisit it; so that idea of a quick glance and then a revisit before the session. But also know that if that client comes back to you, you will go further into the material because you’ve had longer with it, and that’s just the nature of the type of work that we’re doing.

AC: Definitely.

CB: Awesome. All right, guys, I think we did it. We’re at three-and-a-half-hours. This is one of the best episodes of The Astrology Podcast I’ve ever recorded. I’m just gonna say that. I’m gonna put that out there right now. High-five. Digital high-five.

AC: Chris, I’m gonna let you finish.

CB: I wish we could all do a jumping, freeze-frame, high-five right now to end this episode, but I think we will just call it a day. So, Kelly, you have a new podcast I want to plug, the Water Trio Podcast, with two friends. And I’m sure you have a link on your website, kellysastrology.com.

KS: Yes.

CB: Austin’s got a new podcast coming out, which he’s gonna post very soon, hopefully by the time we’ve released this episode at austincoppock.com. And of course you’re listening to this podcast from my website, theastrologypodcast.com. So thanks a lot guys. And thanks to everybody who sent in questions. We got to about half of them. Did we even get to half?

KS: No, not even. Maybe a third.

CB: All right. Well, maybe one of these days we’ll come back and try and answer the rest or get to them on Twitter or what have you. I’ll put a link to the original thread in the description page for this episode where we asked those questions, so other people can go through and read them, as well as find out if they want to connect with some of the people who asked these questions. But thanks everybody so much for sending them. Thanks to all the patrons that support The Astrology Podcast through our page on Twitter. Appreciate it since you made this episode possible as always. And, yeah, thanks Austin and Kelly for joining me. This was great.

KS: Always a pleasure guys. Thank you.

CB: All right, well, we will be back again in two weeks. We’re gonna record the forecast for 2019 on December 28. That’s gonna be exciting ‘cause we’re gonna look at the astrology of the entire year ahead. I already did a little bit of that with the Denver Astrology Group meeting last week, and there’s some really exciting stuff coming up. So I’m excited to get it into that with you guys in a couple of weeks here.

AC: Yeah, it’ll be good.

KS: Yeah, me too.

CB: All right, well, thanks everybody for listening to this episode of the podcast, and we will see you next time.