The Astrology Podcast
Transcript of Episode 229, titled:
With Chris Brennan and guest Leisa Schaim
Episode originally released on November 7, 2019
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: email@example.com
Transcribed by Felicia Romano
Transcription released July 16, 2022
Copyright © 2022 TheAstrologyPodcast.com
CHRIS BRENNAN: Hi, my name is Chris Brennan and you’re listening to The Astrology Podcast. Today is Monday November 4th, 2019 starting at exactly 5:30pm in Denver, Colorado and this is the 229th episode of the show.
Joining me today is Leisa Schaim, and we’re going to be talking about the general topic of practicing astrology before your Saturn return. And specifically, a debate that sometimes comes up about whether it’s okay to do consultations and see clients, and have a monetary exchange for seeing clients and doing consultations before the age of 30. So hey, thanks for joining me today Leisa.
LEISA SCHAIM: Of course.
CB: And yeah, so we’ve got a lot to go over today. It’s going to be kind of a general talk, but it’s something that a lot of people have been discussing recently.
LS: Mhm, yeah. And it came up as a kind of springboard off of a Twitter discussion. But we’re kind of going to have a larger discussion and make it broader, since this does come up.
CB: It does come up from time to time.
CB: Alright, so let’s set the stage for this discussion. So what it’s about is that periodically there’s this discussion that comes up about how old a person should be in order to do astrological consultations for clients. And starting to charge for consultations is often seen as a really big step in one’s studies.
CB: Because while most people will sort of informally look at the charts or read the charts for friends and family members starting relatively early in their studies, the idea of reading a chart for a stranger, somebody you don’t know, and accepting money for it is usually seen as a big turning point and a big step to take during the course of one’s either studies of astrology, or more broadly if you’re actually going to transition into practicing this subject professionally at some point, that’s seen as a huge milestone.
LS: Definitely, and one of the reasons why this comes up even as a discussion point is because astrology is an unregulated field, by and large. And so you kind of have to decide for yourself when you’re ready and so people make different decisions at different times around that. And yeah, and people can disagree with other people’s decisions around when people are ready.
CB: Right, and there’s lots of different criteria that different people use for determining when a person is ready. And usually everybody ends up making up their own choice, or their own mind, because ultimately it’s subjective. And because it’s an unregulated field where, for the most part, there’s nobody that’s ever going to tell you, “Now it’s okay for you to do consultations.” There’s just a bunch of different criteria that people take into account, or that are floated when this discussion comes up. And one of the ones that’s sometimes floated as a possible criteria is age. The idea that very occasionally–and I don’t see it brought up very often, and I think it’s a sort of minority viewpoint–but occasionally some people do float the criteria of age as a possible deciding factor for when a person should start doing consultations, or be ready to. Or a prerequisite for that- they should not do consultations until a certain point.
LS: Right, yeah and I think that usually comes about, I mean sometimes it’s because it’s being conflated with like, how long you might have been studying by that age. But sometimes it’s also, I think, just kind of a general idea that if you’re younger than a certain age maybe you don’t have enough life experience to be speaking to people’s lives using astrology.
CB: Right, so sometimes this is floated, it’s formulated as a sort of subjective thing where somebody will say, like, “I didn’t start studying until I was this age.” And usually the age that comes up is the Saturn return.
CB: And I think that’s because largely the Saturn return has become– in astrology it’s one of the few concepts that’s sort of permeated outwards from the astrological community and become almost a pop astrology concept. Where it’s like, you have Sun sign astrology that everybody knows about. And then you’re starting to get like, Mercury retrograde that everybody hears about. And Saturn return I think is the next step down in terms of concepts that have kind of made their way outside of the field, or become general knowledge. And the idea that the Saturn return especially is often treated as if it’s the final entry point into adulthood. And so astrologers treat it sometimes as– sometimes they put a lot of emphasis on it, or treat it as a major thing.
LS: Mhm, and I think it is a major, you know, life stage marker. I mean both of us have talked about Saturn returns a decent bit.
CB: I mean we happen to have authored a blog called “Saturn return stories.”
LS: [Laughs] Yeah.
LS: Right, and so I mean we both think it’s important. You know, I wouldn’t say it’s not important. But I don’t know that I would normally set that as a universal, you know, factor for when people can start practicing professionally.
CB: Yeah, I mean and it gets floated in different ways. So like I said, sometimes it’s a personal thing saying, “I chose not to do this” or, “I didn’t end up doing it until this point.”
CB: But other times it’s a statement of like, what people should do. And sometimes that starts going in the direction of almost–sometimes, usually when this discussion comes up it sometimes gets floated as a sort of prohibition. That other people should not practice, or they don’t think it’s ethical for younger people to practice astrology until either they’ve reached their Saturn return, which happens between the ages of like 27 and 30, or that they shouldn’t until after their Saturn return, which would mean that they basically can’t practice until they’re firmly in their 30s.
LS: Mhm, right. Yeah and I think, I mean neither of us– I don’t know if you want to bring up opinions at this point. I mean, I definitely have some nuanced ideas about pros and cons, but I generally think, you know, “It depends” is like a good answer to that. You know, and not like a blanket universal statement about it.
CB: Yeah, I mean, so the debate came up recently on Twitter and I got into it. And we don’t want to make it, like you said at the beginning, about that debate because this is a topic that comes up occasionally. And that’s why I wanted to discuss it, because it is an interesting discussion topic that does come up periodically. And it’s worth having a dialogue and presenting some of the best points for both sides. Even though I strongly feel in favor of– that people can do consultations prior to their 30s, that people can start seeing clients in their 20s. And that it’s more important one’s proficiency with astrology and how long you’ve been studying it than it is how old you are. Because some people like myself got started, or get started, relatively early in life and therefore by the time they’re in their 20s they might have already been studying astrology for quite a while.
LS: Exactly. And that is a point that does seem like it gets conflated a lot of times, not so consciously, that age automatically equals also approximately the same amount of time studied by that point, which isn’t always true at all, because different people enter their studies at different times in their lives.
CB: Sure, so we’re going to focus on the broader context. Even though I have a strong opinion, we’ll be making an argument against that while still occasionally kind of presenting some of the counterpoints since it is a nuanced discussion where there are plenty of points you can make. And some of those actually came up as I was observing the community’s response to this, and the occasional instances where you can see something where it’s like, oh, that is the counterpoint. Or that is the example of this not being that great.
CB: But we’ll get to that.
CB: Alright, so we need to focus first on what we were just setting up, which is the difference between the age of the astrologer versus the years of astrological study.
CB: So this is important to distinguish because, like we said, some people start studying earlier in life. I started around the age of 14 or 15. And then I started slowly working into seeing clients around the age of 20 and 21, and did my first consultations. But in doing that I had already been studying astrology for like five years at that point. If I had started studying when I was 15 and didn’t see my first client until I was 20, that means I had spent five years of intensive study on the subject. And I already had devoted my life to it at that point, and also went off to a college, to Kepler college, to study it full time.
CB: So it was obviously something I was super serious about and had been putting a very extensive and intense amount of study into for five years up to that point.
CB: And ultimately I think that’s important to note. And that’s why I often, when I was in my early 20s and would hear this debate come up, would be very intensely, have an intense reaction to it in some instances because if I had been studying that long versus let’s say, somebody’s only been studying for three months or six months, but they’re, you know, 32 years old.
CB: Does that automatically give them more expertise or proficiency in astrology than me, even though I’m a 20-year-old who’s been practicing or studying it for five years?
CB: The answer is obviously no. And ultimately that’s what it comes down to, is that this should be primarily– or the primary question that this should boil down to is proficiency in astrology and what constitutes proficiency, and how long it takes to become proficient in interpreting charts as the primary criteria for determining, you know, is a person ready to start seeing clients?
LS: Right, and even that amount of time, even though that was a really solid five years and that you were devoting yourself to it, you know, different people can mean different things by saying, “I’ve been studying five years,” or, “I’ve been studying ten years.” Or, you know, 20 or 30, because what does that mean? Does that mean studying full time and doing little else? You know, and devoting yourself to it. Does that mean you have a full-time job and you kind of try to read as much as you can outside of that time? You know, or anything in between. And so the actual number of years doesn’t always tell you either.
CB: Yeah, because sometimes people have been studying very idly or loosely for like, 20 years. And they might be in their 40s or 50s, but they’ve had another full-time career, and astrology’s just been an occasional hobby that they’ve occasionally checked in on. But they otherwise aren’t super adept or proficient at like, sitting down and interpreting a person’s chart.
CB: So age doesn’t automatically grant proficiency in astrology. Only the study of astrology, and the consistent study of astrology for an extended period of time, can possibly grant proficiency in astrology.
CB: Obviously, there’s another factor that can come in occasionally as well, and I feel like is also relevant, which is some people possibly having a knack for it. And that’s harder to gauge. But there could be some people that come into the field and pick it up relatively quickly, and where it comes more naturally to them. Versus there might be somebody where for whatever reason it’s more of a struggle with them. Or they have a harder time internalizing some of the concepts, or other things like that, as a sort of wildcard factor, which is, again, one of the reasons why occasionally you can see somebody occasionally who comes along that might be younger and has been studying it for far less time overall than somebody that’s older and has maybe been studying it for 20 years. But for some reason, they may be moving through their studies much more rapidly, or at a rapid pace, than you might expect. So that’s another wildcard factor, is that different people learn astrology and pick up the concepts and internalize them sometimes at different rates.
LS: Definitely, because it’s like any other subject in life, right? You know, we have certain talents or proclivities or, you know, propensities for things to come more easily to us or with more difficulty. And so that’s just another one of those. And so we would expect that to be the case.
CB: Right, right.
CB: Okay, so other than that, to argue on the other side. So even though age doesn’t automatically grant proficiency in astrology, one of the things that it does grant is A: Life experience. And like, more time witnessing more things, seeing how life works, like gaining a broader breadth of knowledge about the human experience and different possibilities in that. Different things in terms of like, interpersonal relationships and milestones, and life markers, and things like that. And additionally, in terms of astrology, the older you are and the longer you’ve been studying it– well, the older you are, then theoretically you may have had a longer opportunity to study it. In which case it’s true that you might actually have had a longer period to make empirical observations of astrology on your own so that it’s not just thinking about or looking at the abstract concepts in a book. But instead you’ve actually been seeing how it works out in practice by observing the cycles both in your own chart as well as in the charts of people around you.
LS: Mhm, definitely. Yeah, I think that’s one big thing. I mean, I think, you know, astrology is interesting because it is both a system of correspondences, symbolic correspondences, that you do need to learn. And there’s like, technique to it. But it’s also talking about life really, you know, and all the different experiences that happen in life. And so both of those things can lead you in different ways to be better at astrology I think. Both to, you know, certainly become proficient just at the technical pieces and at what you should learn from what other people say about, you know, what should correspond. And then, as you said also after that, making your own observations about what corresponds.
But there’s the other piece which is, you know, I think part of the other argument. Though I’m certainly not making a black and white statement about it. But you know, the longer you have to be alive, the more you understand how life works in a personal and perhaps more intangible way. Not just specific observations. I do think that’s really important with astrology because you know, everything in life has to be able to be symbolized by something in the charts. And so you do need to learn, like, what are lots of different manifestations and what do they look like? But also just kind of, how does life work? Because that’s part of what you’re working out as you are a person alive in the world.
CB: Yeah, I mean one of my favorite things– because of the podcast taking off over the past few years and also when I started writing my book I stopped doing consultations like two or three years ago and started just referring out clients to you and Patrick and Austin and Kelly, and other friends who had similar approaches to astrology as me, and have just been focusing on the podcast and teaching my courses. So I haven’t been doing consultations for a while. But one of the things that is still fun for me to do is to like, read on Reddit. There’s different subreddits where people will talk about different life stories, or they’ll come asking for advice about their super unique situation. And it’s always really fascinating to me to hear the different highly specific scenarios that can happen in a person’s life. And then to try to think about and match up what placements that must correlate with their life in general. Or to think up like, if I was looking for that in the chart what would I look for, and what would I expect to see?
CB: And that’s a really fun exercise, and a good exercise to do astrologically. And astrologers– that’s basically what astrologers are doing most of the time when they’re looking at charts, or looking at celebrity charts in general. They’re learning information about what certain life experiences correlate with or look like in an astrological chart.
But it’s something that you can also do just by observing and seeing different people’s lives in general as you just go about your day-to-day life. And seeing different people have different types of experiences, and then broadening the scope of what you understand is possible about the human experience outside of your own life.
LS: Definitely, and I think that’s a piece that, while more of that can come with age because you just have a longer opportunity to observe life, I still don’t think that’s a one-to-one correspondence. I definitely don’t think so, because–
CB: In terms of, what do you mean? In terms of older people definitely like, paying attention and necessarily having more experience?
LS: I think people really differ regardless of age in how much they pay attention to the world around them besides their own life, or lives similar to theirs.
CB: Yeah, definitely. I mean, and that’s one of the things that astrology teaches you and that comes. I think most astrologers, or some–especially the best astrologers become students of life and observers of life, and all the different permutations of life. So that almost becomes a skill that you have to develop as an astrologer. But you’re right that it’s not necessarily something that comes naturally to everybody.
LS: Well, and it’s not even necessarily something that everyone works towards. You would think so with astrology, because it is about life. But I think sometimes different people lean more on the empiricism of observing things and matching them up, and different people lean more on what they’ve learned initially as far as what should be represented in charts.
CB: Right. Well, that just goes back to the original point you were making in terms of the difference between those two broad categories. Which is the empirical understanding of astrology which is like, “I went through this Mars transit when Mars squared my Sun. And I had a shoulder injury, and therefore that was something I learned from that.” Or, “I had an eye injury,” or what have you. My famous– in my secondary progressions episode I did with Kelly I had that famous story about the secondary progressed, what was it, Mars square my sun? And I started getting a skin condition where I was just getting terrible sunburns after. like, five minutes in the Sun for like a few years, as long as that transit, that secondary progression was lasting.
CB: So that was like an empirical thing that I learned. Like, oh okay, sometimes difficult Mars activations can indicate things like burns or skin irritations, or sunburns in that case.
CB: And that’s one piece of astrology is like empirical learning and observation and that’s been going on for thousands of years. And that’s one of the important things not just about an astrologer’s lived experience, but also about the astrological tradition. However, that being said, there’s a whole other part of astrology, which is probably like half of it, which is people looking at symbolism and then extracting from the symbolism sort of abstractly what that should mean theoretically.
LS: Mhm, right.
CB: But then basing their delineations largely off of that.
CB: So maybe we should give some examples in order to make that clear or more concrete, what we’re saying. Can you think of an example?
LS: Sure, well I’m not sure exactly what you’re pointing at right now.
CB: So, one of the– that there’s a bunch of abstract models in astrology. One of them, for example, is since the late Mesopotamian period, like circa more than 2,000 years ago, the assignment of different signs of the zodiac to different parts of the body. Starting with the conceptual premise that Aries is the first sign because it starts with the spring equinox in the northern– basically it was spring in the northern hemisphere. The beginning of the year in terms of the seasons.
CB: So therefore Aries, the first sign, is coincided with the top of the head as being like, the starting point for the human. And then Aries is associated with the head as the first sign. And then the next sign, in zodiacal order, the second sign is Taurus which then gets associated with the neck. And then the third sign is Gemini which is associated with like, the shoulders and arms.
And then Cancer is the next sign, and Leo, so on and so forth, all the way down to the bottom of the human body, to the very last part of it which then gets assigned to the very last sign, the 12th sign, which is Pisces, which is therefore associated with the feet.
CB: So, and then therefore from that correspondence, then sometimes if you read astrological texts it’ll say, well if a malefic planet like Mars is in Pisces, then it could indicate injuries to the native’s feet.
CB: And that’s something that while you could try, and you could go about like, trying to verify that empirically, it’s probably initially being derived from an abstract or symbolic consideration. And there’s lots of things like that in astrology, where if an astrologer writes a book about the placements, oftentimes their primary motivation that they’re starting with first is those abstract or symbolic motivating considerations rather than the empirical ones. And often the empirical ones are coming later.
CB: And there’s a funny debate, like in academic scholarship about the Mesopotamian astrological tradition, because sometimes astrologers will then extrapolate from different symbolism what different things could mean. And sometimes they’ll even go so far as to extrapolate or make possible predictions for things that aren’t possible in the off chance that that does happen someday. So there’s like some academic scholarship about the Mesopotamian tradition where they’re making predictions about, I think like, lunations that are taking place in different parts of the solar month that wouldn’t be possible. Like a full moon on the second day after the new moon, or something like that, which is just not possible. But the astrologers, because they’re generating it based on not empirical, but based on abstractions that yeah, they’re still recording these as like, well, “If this ever happens, then theoretically it would mean this.”
CB: And then that led to a debate in the academic scholarship then, about how much of the records in the Mesopotamian tradition two and three thousand years ago are actually even based on empirical events versus how much are these based on conceptual sort of abstract delineations?
LS: Right. Yeah, and both are important. You know like, you can’t just do one and not the other. And I think that’s where the years of experience comes in regardless of the age of the practitioner is, you know, I’ve always found it really important to say, you know, read what these things are supposed to mean but then go out and sort of cross-check that with what you know of life beyond astrology and see if it’s still matching up. Because that’s, you know, both of those are really important directions to look from.
CB: Yeah, I mean learning how to use both. Learning how to do both the abstract– to come up with a name for that, like abstract symbolic reasoning is what it is basically.
LS: Mhm, yeah.
CB: Or symbolic interpretation versus empirical recalling, or–
LS: Empirical observation, yeah.
CB: Yeah, well sometimes it’s not even observation because it can be drawn on somebody else’s observation that you read in a book.
CB: Like if somebody hears me say that like, secondary progressed Mars square my sun coincided with sunburns for a couple of years, like somebody else may incorporate that empirical observation and use that in their own delineation, which then is a sort of passing on of the empirical tradition in a way. But it wasn’t necessarily their own observation.
LS: Sure, yeah.
CB: Anyway, but the symbolic interpretations are important. And that’s often the starting point for most astrological interpretations, is getting good at that level of interpretation, of like symbolic interpretation. But that’s the reason why that’s so important. And even though some people might hear that, like I can hear a scientist or a skeptic hearing that and saying, “Well then the foundations of astrology aren’t very good.” If it’s not based on empiricism, if it’s just based on abstract inferences based on symbolic things, then that could be a weakness.
But one of the issues that you realize really quickly in astrology is that every person has a unique chart. And even though if you’re older, if you live to be 80 years old, you’re never gonna have lived through every astrological transit or permutation or placement that there is on your own. So you’re just simply not going to be able to A: Experience every transit that there possibly is or could be. Nor are you going to be able to experience, or even observe, every possible placement that there could be.
CB: So the ability to interpret things symbolically becomes your starting point because that’s the access point for being able to basically interpret and understand and make statements that are accurate about potentially anything if you can unlock that level of almost, like, reality. And what’s happening underneath reality, and being able to use it effectively in generating astrological delineations.
LS: Definitely, I mean and that’s what astrology is. It’s a symbolic language. You know, and so we have to start there, certainly. Yeah, I mean, and also not only are all charts unique, but even, you know, even if you lived through lots of transits you would be able to make some observations about what those could mean. But you wouldn’t have the universal meaning of what a transit could mean in other persons’ chart, you know.
CB: Yeah, well and this is important I’m bringing this up because it comes up as an argument for the pro ”You shouldn’t read charts before your Saturn return” crowd. Because sometimes their argument is, until you’ve gone through your Saturn return, there’s no way that you can interpret it accurately.
CB: And the problem with that statement is that even though it’s like, you have to concede. And I would say, post-Saturn return I can say, yeah, you have a better perspective on it having gone through that transit, which is going to be true of any transit. You’re going to have a new and slightly more intimate, or in some instances much more intimate, familiarity with what that transit can be like and what that energy can be like.
CB: That doesn’t mean that you don’t have any idea what it means prior to actually going through that transit. In the same way that, you know, before you have your Uranus return at like 84 years old you can still like, both conceptually or abstractly as well as by looking at other people’s lives, have a pretty good understanding, and make some pretty concrete statements about what that transit can be like in a person’s life.
CB: Or especially in an individual chart.
LS: Mhm, yeah, for sure. And I think if you lean too much on the idea that you need to have gone through your own experience of something– I mean, I don’t want to, you know, lean too hard on this argument. But if you lean too much on the idea that you need to have experienced yourself, and therefore you know more viscerally what it’s like, you’re actually not going to experience someone else’s Saturn return. Your chart is not only different in terms of where those things are placed but the condition of everything. You know, and that’s oftentimes what people miss, particularly only using say, an archetypal modern approach to a transit is, you know, everyone’s going to have a different experience, not just topic-wise, but even the quality of the experience will be different.
CB: Yeah, well, and this is one of your hobby horses that you’ve given actual lectures on.
LS: [Laughs] Yeah.
CB: Which is being annoyed when people take their own Saturn return experience in some instances where they have Saturn really well placed in the chart. And they have a very like, constructive, positive Saturn return experience where they took matters into their own hands and built their lives up and overcame issues that were obstacles. But ultimately by putting in some grit and self-determination, they–
LS: [Laughs] Yeah.
CB: –you know, bettered their life. And then they turn around and sometimes tell everybody else that, “All you need to do is this. And it’s really pretty easy, because see, I did it.”
CB: “So it’s probably the same for you. You’re just not doing it right, or you’re not doing it well enough.” When in fact some people, if they have Saturn in a more difficult condition in their chart, actually both objectively and subjectively might have a much more difficult experience of the Saturn return. And there may be things that are actually like insurmountable difficulties that they can’t, no matter how much self-determination and positive magical thinking that they have, just can’t bulldoze through it. But sometimes they just have to– like Saturn almost says, “No” in that part of their life, and they cannot proceed further but instead have to go a different direction.
LS: Right, and that’s an argument for focusing more on the symbolic interpretive principles and the technical proficiency over and above, you know, your own life experience. Because your own life experience will only be one life. But if you learn all of the other pieces really well, then hopefully you should be able to reach into different experiences and not lean too heavily on, you know, things should go similarly to how it went for me.
CB: Right, that’s the importance of getting the fundamentals of astrology and the ability to interpret it from having technical proficiency. And the ability to interpret the language of astrology in all instances proficiently regardless of what your personal experience has been up to that point.
LS: Yeah, yeah, so those are kind of like the pros and cons of some of those two pieces. And I think those are two main pieces of becoming an astrologer.
CB: Okay. One of the things that you wrote here in the notes also was being connected to the professional community, giving you a reference point.
LS: Yeah, I think oftentimes when people are really off-base, you know, sometimes there are people that are really off-base about, like, how much they don’t know, you know? And they’re still trying to practice. I think it’s usually when people aren’t as connected to the larger professional community and they don’t have, like, a reference point. You know? And it’s sometimes where people are just kind of like, putting themselves out there on their own, but they don’t actually talk to anyone. They don’t go to local groups. They don’t go to conferences. They don’t belong to organizations. They don’t connect with anyone else. And while that’s not to say that everyone in that situation mis-gauges their sort of level of knowledge, but it’s easier to. And conversely, I think it’s easier to have a realistic outlook on what your level is when you talk to other people also practicing astrology.
CB: Right, okay. So this is an issue that comes up. This is the issue of like, because it’s an unregulated field and standards aren’t necessarily inherent to it. There’s no inherent thing that’s just like, obvious that that’s how you’re supposed to do it. You often need to set things based on, or at least establish what the standard or the average model is amongst other practitioners in the field.
CB: So this comes up sometimes concretely with things like pricing.
CB: Like, there’s no obvious inherent answer for how much an astrological consultation should charge. And it varies to some extent in different places, in different areas of the world or other things like that. But by paying attention to what the current average price is, you can get a pretty good idea of the high end of the spectrum or the low end of the spectrum and see how long you’ve been practicing versus somebody else, and then attempt to like, set your pricing appropriately.
LS: Mhm, yeah. And that kind of touches on something that I think is important, too, when you’re starting out regardless of age, is to kind of represent yourself accurately. In terms of this is how long I’ve been studying, this is the approach I’ve been studying, this is how much I’m charging based on that and kind of be really open about that. I know for instance when I started, I definitely did that because I was like, not sure whether I was ready but someone really wanted me to read their chart or their family member’s charts. And I was like, okay well, and I kind of grappled with it a little bit. And then I can’t remember how much I charged, but something pretty low. You know, 25-50 bucks, that kind of thing.
CB: Yeah, I mean and I started charging very little as well. I think everybody starts, that’s usually the recommendation. Like start charging very little, and then work your way up from there. Just so that there’s some sort of exchange. And some people do things like a donation basis or a sliding scale basis. There’s all sorts of different options in terms of that. But the idea that at some point, let’s just say generally, you’ve been starting enough– like one of the things for me, and one of the points that came up when I was responding to this topic this week, that I always tell people especially like, in my professional astrologers course, is I’ve noticed two tendencies. There’s two markedly different tendencies among students of astrology in terms of when they start doing consultations. And this is just a general thing that I’ve noticed, or a general trend. It’s not true in all cases. But I’ve noticed that sometimes, occasionally I’ll see an astrologer who’s maybe a little bit overconfident or sometimes not as thoughtful about astrology, rushing into charging consultations like, way before they’re ready or very soon in their studies. Or maybe even like raising their prices really quick, or charging a lot very early. And sometimes you can get into situations where it’s like, that person might be kind of sketchy. Or sometimes that can be a red flag if there is somebody, which you don’t see that often, but very occasionally if you do see somebody that seems almost like a bad actor, or that is trying to do something sketchy with astrology, sometimes that’s one of the red flags is, doesn’t know that much about it but is charging like way more than they obviously should be charging. Compared to the average, let’s say.
CB: So occasionally sometimes there’s that tendency, where there can occasionally be somebody that hasn’t been studying for very long that jumps into charging and seeing clients too quickly.
CB: But then the other tendency that I see more often, especially among the more thoughtful students of astrology, is they actually put off seeing clients and starting to charge for doing astrology way longer than they should. And they actually go much much longer in their studies than is even necessary because they have so much trepidation about wanting to get it right and wanting to know everything there is about astrology before they start seeing a client.
They feel a lot of pressure going into doing a consultation with somebody, or even the thought of charging even a nominal fee for it because they want to do a good job. And they’re, you know, it’s respectable because what it is, is it’s almost like their conscience or their morals or something that’s like giving them the feeling of wanting to do a good job. And therefore waiting longer than they necessarily need to before they actually move in that direction.
CB: But as a result of that, I often end up encouraging people and trying to make this point, which is, one, that I think when you’re learning astrology, only like 50% of astrology is book learning. And you know, reading through books and learning what different placements should mean and what different techniques are, and everything else sort of conceptually or abstractly. As well as like reading charts empirically or you know, things like that, in terms of reading chart examples or things like that. All of that is like, 50% of it, which is just book learning.
The other 50%, though, of learning astrology is actually sitting down with especially clients in the context of a consultation and reading their chart. And attempting to use what you know about astrology and apply it to the life of an individual. And then getting that immediate feedback where the person either says, “Yes, that’s correct” or, “No, that doesn’t resonate with me” for whatever reason. And that’s a really important part of the process that I would almost say is 50% of the process. Because one of the big secrets that most people don’t know is that one, like every client that an astrologer sees, they learn something new. And that’s because each chart is unique. Each chart will represent a unique set of placements. And that person will have a unique set of experiences in their life based on that, that will represent a unique permutation of other things you may have seen before in the past. But then secondarily, no astrologer ever gets to the end of the line in terms of everything there is to know about astrology, which means that every astrologer up until their last day is still learning astrology, every new client that they see.
LS: Mhm, yeah definitely. Yeah, I know that I was kind of more hesitant. I was on the more hesitant end for sure when starting out. And on the one hand, you know, it was like almost appropriate because I had been studying maybe a few years or something. And I was kind of nervous because I didn’t have a lot of experience yet. But yeah, that’s the piece that you often don’t know going into it. Going into, you know, when should you start to practice, is that some of it you will learn through doing and through seeing more unique manifestations, and you know, novel manifestations that aren’t in books. So you kind of do need to get into it in order to get better after a certain point.
CB: Right, yeah. I mean just because there’s stuff you don’t see until you’re talking. Like talking to a person, that’s the other reason why people will often start out, or some people. Not often, but occasionally newer students, and I did this, will start out doing written consultations, or like pre-recorded consultations. And they do that because it’s easier. And because you can use your reference books or what have you to try to sit down with the chart and then interpret what different placements mean. And then what’ll happen is you’ll end up spending like a week basically on one chart.
CB: But you’re only getting paid, like, let’s say like 10 dollars for it, or 20 dollars, or something like, really minimal as you’re starting. But you’ll have devoted a huge amount of time to just trying to interpret this one chart. And I ended up sending like a 20 or a 50 page report–
CB: –in one of my early consultations. And the problem with that is while you might get some feedback, like, once you send it to the person, it’s much more rapid. You get feedback much more rapidly if you’re sitting there talking to a person verbally. And that’s why it’s the best way to do a consultation. Because consultations really, I don’t want to say are meant to be, but I think in their best form, are always meant to be ideally dialogues between the astrologer and the client.
LS: Mhm, yeah there’s certain symbolic things you can make statements about. Especially if you make them more broadly symbolic, then you don’t need feedback for. But it tends to be a lot more relevant and impactful I think if you have the back and forth. And oftentimes it’s even necessary for you to have that dialogue with a client in order to pull out, like, what’s actually fitting with the symbolism in a way that they might not hear if you just give it to them.
CB: Right, because sometimes the person doesn’t recognize that in their own life, or that that’s true. But through dialogue and the back and forth, sometimes you can help to clarify that for them. Like if you say, “This part of your life maybe has been more positive, and this part of your life has been more difficult.” And initially they think, “Well no, it hasn’t been that positive or that difficult even though I had this really super positive thing happen in this area of life, and this really difficult or traumatic thing.” And then the astrologer has to be like, “Well wait, why are you glossing over that or taking for granted? those are actually unique experiences that are particularly– stand out as positive for you. That doesn’t happen to everybody or particularly stands out as negative and doesn’t happen to everybody.” But because the person’s lived through it, they’ve sort of generalized it and assumed everybody has the same experience in life, which is actually not usually true.
LS: Yeah, and in addition beyond, you know, positive and negative areas of life, there are always so many different, specific ways that a planetary placement in a ruling house can manifest. You know, what topics and so forth.
LS: And sometimes you do need the back and forth to kind of clarify that, either for you or for them.
CB: Yeah. That’s a really important point. And that’s what happens in the dialogue. So it’s like we could, I wonder if we could do an example of that really quickly. Like, let’s say, “Oh, you have Mars in the seventh house. Sometimes that can lead to conflicts or separations in relationships in general. Have you ever had that experience?”
LS: Mhm. And I would be like, I’m going to make it difficult for you. I’m going to say, “No, I mean, things are more or less okay in relationships for me.”
CB: Okay, have you ever been married?
CB: Well no, the client would say, “Well, yeah.”
LS: [Laughs] I would say, “Yes.” Okay.
CB: And I would say, “How many times?”
LS: Let’s say two.
CB: How many times have you been divorced?
CB: What would happen, let’s say, give an extreme example. So what would happen is, you’d say, “Well, how many marriages have you had?”
CB: And a client would be like, “Well, I’ve been married like four or five times.”
LS: Sure, I mean that’s one of them.
CB: And I would be like, “Well, how many divorces have you had?” And they’d be like, “Four or five times.”
CB: And you would say, “Well, do you realize that that’s not, on average, like most people don’t get divorced like five different times in their life. So that might be a unique experience that you’ve had, that even though it’s just, you’re taking it for granted for you, somebody that doesn’t have that placement might not have experienced that.”
CB: And then you go back and forth. And then the placement becomes clearer and clearer how that specific placement has worked out for the person because initially you’re just starting from, again, the abstract conceptual notion of seventh house in the chart is relationships. And Mars sometimes indicates separation or severing.
CB: So sometimes when you combine those abstractly you can get the sentence of, you know, divorce let’s say.
CB: And then you ask the person if they’ve experienced anything like that because you have then an archetypal statement of separations and relationships. And then when you ask the person, what you hear is the specific manifestation in their life where the archetype gets broken down into one of many, many different possibilities.
CB: And the way that that gets broken down and concretized into a specific manifestation then clarifies something for you, the astrologer. And then you can then make another archetypal statement about, well, if it’s gone in that direction then there’s these other subsets of possible manifestations that could then result from that.
And then you ask another question and then they give you a response, and then you keep going from there. And it becomes clearer and clearer to you, the astrologer, as well as to the client, the specific ways in which the chart is working out.
LS: Yeah, definitely. And that again, just kind of that specific example brings me back to, you know, what we were talking about earlier more broadly, which is, you know, I feel like half of that comes from symbolic reasoning, which some people are maybe like, automatically better at or take longer to kind of get. And all of the books that you’ve read and the teachings that you’ve imbibed about what these placements could mean.
But then the other half is, you know, what you’ve learned either from doing other consultations with other people and hearing how their stories have gone with some of these placements. Or just kind of observing life. And that’s another piece you will get. So it kind of comes from both sides.
CB: Right, well I mean that’s the piece right there that you just got is I walked into that consultation having like, read in a book that Mars equals separation and seventh house equals relationships. And even if that’s all I had, like that was my starting point was purely abstract and then conceptual. But the moment that the client said to me that they’d been divorced like five times, I just learned something new and I’ve gained a new empirical piece of not just validation of the conceptual principles, which is good on the one hand, but also now it’s become something that’s not just conceptual. You have an empirical piece of evidence, of data, that’s now going to sit somewhere in the back of your mind, either in some instances very prominently, where you’re always going to think back to that one example chart and that one client that said that thing about that one placement. Or, if not that, it’s going to sit somewhere in the back of your mind as just your general, like cloud data bank of different ways that certain placements have worked out that you don’t remember the specifics of but you do remember this general feeling of how that placement worked out. That you, then, sort of gets incorporated into your subsequent dialogues about astrology when you’re discussing that placement.
LS: Yeah, for sure. And I know that I have incorporated quite a lot of that from past consultations. And that is a piece of like, why you should start at some point, you know, not necessarily immediately after studying. You know, you should have some amount of time where you’ve studied quite a bit. But you do need to start in order to keep progressing. You can’t learn it all before that.
CB: Yeah, so that was the reason why I actually said in one of the arguments that I make, is that– so obviously I will concede, and I think it’s true that it’s not that great if a person starts practicing astrology too early or prematurely. And like, rushes into it after they’ve been studying it for like, let’s say in a super extreme hypothetical example they’ve been studying it for like five days. And then suddenly they set up shop as an astrologer and start charging like 200 dollars a client.
CB: Obviously that’s not great.
CB: But the other extreme is putting it off too long is also not necessary. And I think could also be detrimental to your actual progress as an astrologer.
CB: Because if you put off seeing clients for too long, you’re going to be holding yourself back. And like hampering, partially that empirical process of learning and having those dialogues with clients. Which, like somebody– I can hear somebody already thinking or saying in the audience like, “Well, you can just do that by researching charts and going on astro.com and looking at different chart placements.” And that’s true. But there’s something about seeing the placement work and being able to dialogue with a person directly in an intimate one-on-one encounter and ask them questions about their life. And both get positive feedback, but also sometimes negative feedback if somebody says like, “No, that’s not true,” or “That’s not how it worked out. Instead, it’s worked out this way.” That’s just absolutely invaluable and is a huge part of the process of becoming a skilled astrologer, is having those one-on-ones. But also learning some of the skills that come along with that. Which is like, what questions to ask and how to conduct a dialogue like that.
CB: And how to sometimes be able to know what questions to ask. And how to, like we were talking about, ferret out certain things if there’s some area of inquiry that you should be following up on, and like sort of the proper way to do that.
LS: Yeah, and that’s where you could either learn that if you are like, in a course that is explicitly saying, like giving you counseling skills for instance. It’s not really counseling, you know, that’s more of like inquiry.
CB: Yeah, I mean that’s like a separate thing.
LS: Yeah, yeah. But it is still in the manner of like, how to go about this dialogue, you know, with astrology.
CB: Yeah, well because I want to be careful about counseling skills. Because that’s a section that we’re going to have to get into at some point, which is that this whole topic, sometimes the influence of like, counseling and psychology and depth psychology and the way that that is treated. And the presumptions that astrology should just be the application of depth psychology in some way. Or that it became that way in some schools of like, late 20th-century and early 21st-century astrology.
CB: And I think we have to be careful about that, because not all astrologers approach astrology in the same way.
CB: And sometimes it’s overreaching to apply some of those rules from different, like, depth psychology schools to astrology and say that that’s the standard that all astrologers should follow.
LS: Yeah for sure. And that’s not quite where I was going. More just in terms of like, anyone giving you any training as to how to go about a dialogue using astrology with a client.
LS: Yeah, yeah so but I don’t know if you want to get into that now, or in a bit.
CB: Yeah, go ahead. I guess that’s actually one of the next things on our list.
LS: Sure. So I mean, it also depends on what kind of astrology you’re doing. And I know that oftentimes in these kinds of discussions, there is an automatic default assumption that you’re doing more counseling astrology. And that’s oftentimes where the age thing comes in where people think that if you, before you have a certain amount of life experience you’re not kind of in a place to guide other people through life.
CB: Right, well and also that natal astrology is assumed to be the default branch or application of astrology that all astrologers are practicing.
CB: Which is not always true as well.
LS: Yeah, exactly. Yeah, so it’s not always super counseling-oriented. And it’s also not even necessarily focused on your natal chart. It can be a horary, for instance, where you’re just like, using technical skills to, you know, answer a question. It can be electional astrology, setting up, you know, the best date and time to start something for the best possible results. Neither of those really require a lot of counseling orientation. So yeah, the assumption does get, like, a little bit too broadly applied. It does seem that way.
CB: Yeah, so there’s just a whole lot of things that go with that. So yeah, there’s different branches of astrology. There’s different approaches to astrology. So there’s electional astrology, there’s horary astrology, there’s mundane astrology.
CB: Even with a natal astrology, there’s sort of like different approaches. There’s like, medical astrology is sort of a subset of natal astrology. There is like, let’s say predictive or timing astrology which is often– while it can incorporate psychological elements. It’s often much different than trying to interpret a person’s character or psychology based on their birth chart.
CB: And other just applications like that.
LS: Yeah, and so I think sometimes people take the default assumption that you’re supposed to be guiding everyone through life, as though you’re like a guru or a life coach or something like that. And certainly, some astrologers do take that approach to using astrology that way. But it should not be assumed that everyone is doing that or should be doing that, really. And I think that is a piece of like what varies sometimes in how much age matters. Although it’s certainly not the only thing that makes the difference.
LS: But you know, if you’re not trying to be a guru–I do think if you are trying to be a guru you should maybe be a little older.
CB: What do you mean a guru?
LS: A lot of people use–
CB: Like a spiritual teacher?
LS: Yeah, I mean because some people do blend it a little bit with more of their own spiritual outlook. So that’s one piece. No I mean, just guru/life coach in terms of how much are you focusing on the astrology and strictly what it is saying, versus trying to lead someone towards the right answer as to what they should be doing in their life.
LS: And there’s, obviously that’s a gradation.
CB: And having like, life experience in order to draw on.
CB: For whatever reason, we might as well get into it now. But that brings up a couple of subtopics that came up in the debate. Which is like, some people saying like, “Well, I’m in my 30s or 40s and 50s, and I wouldn’t get a consultation with an astrologer who’s in their 20s.” And that was really annoying to me, because it was like, separate from the initial issue of just like, should astrologers be able to do consultations if they’re in their 30s or should we say, “No they shouldn’t.” You know, that doesn’t– A, I don’t care if you want to get a consultation with somebody that’s younger than you. If you’re in your 30s and you don’t want to get a consultation with an astrologer who’s younger because you don’t feel like they have enough life experience, that’s fine. But you know, astrologers in their 20s oftentimes, not all the time, but sometimes might be doing consultations for their contemporaries.
CB: And that’s actually something that’s not just okay, but sometimes it can be important because sometimes different age groups feel more comfortable talking to somebody in their own age group who’s had similar experiences in terms of generational dynamics. And sometimes that can be actually really useful and important, and crucial in terms of the client themself finding somebody that they can relate to and talk to and open up to when they’re talking about important things in their life.
LS: Yeah, definitely. I mean, yeah definitely people in their 20s might go to an astrologer who is also in their 20s. But other people might, too, you know. And I know for instance, you know, I don’t actually get that age grouping very much. I mean, I’m not in my 20s. But I get kind of people across the board, age-wise. So that’s interesting, because I know that, you know, someone was also making that argument online. And you know, that people do cluster more often than not by age. And I find that client-wise I don’t get a lot of clustering. But I’m kind of in the middle, you know, age-wise. And–
CB: Yeah, you’re in your 40s.
LS: Yeah, and so I mean there’s that. The other thing though is I actually, you know, when some of that discussion was going on, I would actually, you know, if there were a choice to go to someone, if I were receiving a consultation, and there was a choice to go to someone who was very proficient and well-trained, as well as had a lot of life experience, I would probably choose that combination. But if I were choosing between the two, I would actually be more fine, personally, going to someone younger who I knew was really proficient technically. Because that’s kind of what I’m looking for. I’m not looking for someone to lead me through life. I’m looking for someone to interpret the astrology.
CB: Yeah, you’re looking for an interpretation of your birth chart by somebody who’s proficient in doing that sort of interpretation rather than just somebody that’s okay with astrology, or has been studying it for a small amount of time, but they have had a lot of very interesting life experiences?
LS: Yeah. And I mean those, you know, there’s different variations as far as what those combinations are with any given practitioner. But yeah, I would lean more towards that piece personally. And it’s interesting because I’ve seen so many younger people nowadays be quite technically proficient, and certainly more advanced with a few years of study than I was at that time. Partly based on the information that’s out there these days.
CB: Yeah, so that’ll segue us into a whole new area that I do want to go into. But first I want to say, you know, when I was in my 20s, all throughout my 20s I was seeing clients. And they often, it was a mixture of– I did start out doing consultations for my contemporaries and for, I ran like the biggest astrology group on MySpace. And I also started teaching classes to a lot of people from MySpace who were doing consultations with them, that were like people in their 20s and stuff. But I also did consultations with, like, lots of older people and I was consistently applying some of the techniques that I learned from studying intensely and being one of the early people that was studying Hellenistic astrology. And developing techniques like annual profections and zodiacal releasing and whole sign houses and sect, and things like that, which have become more commonplace nowadays, but back then were virtually, like, unheard of.
CB: So you know, older astrologers often– I’ve always been more of an astrologer’s astrologer. And often older astrologers would come to me and get a consultation because I specialized in and was one of the only people in the world that could demonstrate a specific approach, and had something unique and valuable to offer. And that ultimately is always what it ultimately comes down to is just, even if you’ve only been studying for– I don’t want to give a range, and I don’t even want to say a few years. I want to say like, three to five years or something like that. And you feel like you don’t know everything there is to know about astrology. If you sit down with a client that doesn’t know anything about astrology, then what you’ve learned is valuable and worth having some sort of exchange for if you can share something with them about their life.
CB: Anyway, but sometimes younger astrologers may have a tendency to be more up-to-date on upcoming trends or unique approaches or other things like that in the field. And sometimes that can be something that is useful. So that’s one of the things that always bugs me, if occasionally there is like flippant sort of almost a scoffing remark about like, “I wouldn’t get a consultation with somebody in their 20s.” Because when I was in my 20s, I was like doing really good, new, up-and-coming astrology, which while popular now, back then wasn’t. But that was the starting point for that.
LS: Yeah, yeah. And I think a lot of young people now are. And I think that’s why, you know, you can’t make a blanket age statement because there’s such a huge spectrum, right? There are people who know, like, the tiniest bit of astrology and are kind of trying to put themselves out there or charge a little bit. And then there’s people who know so much and are still young.
CB: Well, and you know in the 1960s and ‘70s that new astrology was, like, psychological astrology and it was integrating like Carl Jung and depth psychology and all of those other up-and-coming concepts that the Pluto in Leo generation like really got into. And when they came in the field they discovered works like Jung and Dane Rudhyar, who had been sort of like putting that stuff out there for years. But it really didn’t gain a solid foothold until that new generation of astrologers, that new wave of astrologers, came in in the 1960s and ‘70s when they were pretty much in their twenties, give or taken and then really sort of when to town with it. And you know, so for them getting consultation with them younger, that’s some of the newer techniques they would have incorporated or brought to the table. And that’s continuously going to be the case to some extent.
LS: Mhm, right. And you’re probably, once you get into astrology – I mean, I guess different practitioners are different in this respect – but some practitioners will get into astrology, learn what they learn, and then kind of continue to practice that from there on out.
LS: Versus some people will continue to learn and adapt and, you know, add new things and that sort of thing. But that’s not a given, just because you’ve been doing it for a long time, that you’ve incorporated, like, everything there is to know about astrology.
CB: Yeah, well there’s an inherent tendency, which is fine, to get like a bit of momentum and inertia where usually people will establish their approach to astrology relatively early in their studies, in the first like say five years or ten years, five to ten years, which is funny, like now I’m in my mid-thirties, having just turned 35 a few days ago…
LS: Yeah, happy birthday.
CB: Thank you. That I can say in increments, speak in increments of time like ten years.
LS: Right. [Laughs]
CB: And make like broad generalizations.
LS: You should go like that a lot when you say that. [Laughs]
CB: I always like sweeping hand motions.
CB: Okay, so people tend to establish their approach to astrology in the like, tradition of astrology in some instances. Or let’s say the synthesis of different approaches and different traditions from whatever their like, one or two or three top teachers or resources was early in their studies. And then they combine them together, and that’s their approach. And whatever approach they develop in that first five to ten years they then tend to, on the whole let’s say, by and large, then just like continue that trajectory. And continue to refine and develop that specific approach for the rest of their astrological careers. And because early in your studies, you’re more in the research phase where you’re like studying many different things and many different approaches. And you don’t really know what’s going on, so you’re just reading everything. But eventually, at some point everybody specializes and then you gain a certain amount of inertia. And it’s somewhat rare for people to just like, completely drop everything that they’ve learned and switch to a different approach much later in their career. So as a result of that, there’s a greater tendency for older astrologers, or whatever that means, to be more…not stuck, but more fixed and determined in terms of their specific approach to astrology and maintaining and refining that. Versus newer astrologers sometimes who are still developing approach might be open to new ideas, or new trends let’s say, in the field that are still emerging.
LS: Yeah, for sure. And that can be a good thing, too. And it kind of reminds me of another piece of this discussion. Which is, you know, that there’s not only one true take on your chart or on astrology because there’s, you know, different angles and different approaches that people can take. Different you know, both technically, philosophically and so forth. And so, you know, on the one hand it’s really good that sometimes people continue to refine what they have been doing and get really, basically really skilled, you know, at the specifics that they use to approach astrology with, but–
CB: Yeah, not necessarily saying that’s a bad thing. It actually can be a good thing.
LS: Yeah, right.
CB: Because once you have a synthesis, like, spending several decades refining that is super useful because then you get really good at that specific approach.
LS: Right, yeah. And so, the flipside of that is there are different practitioners, different approaches, and while not everything is a valid statement about your chart or life that someone can say, there are certainly more than one, you know? And so you know, part of this is there’s not going to be any one practitioner that masters all of astrology, because there are so many different pieces to astrology that you can study. So you know, it comes into the age discussion because even if someone has gotten good at what they do, that doesn’t mean that someone else getting good at doing something else isn’t equally valid. And you know, it’s not the case that they have to adopt kind of your approach to astrology in order to become proficient in what they are doing.
CB: Right, yeah. So this brings up one of the topics that we talked about, and have been wondering and scratching our heads about a little bit, which is interesting, that we’ve been wondering if it seems like in the past decade or two that there’s been an acceleration at the rate at which a person can learn astrology in general and also learn good astrology in particular, whatever we subjectively–
LS: Yeah, right. [Laughs]
CB: –can designate as good astrology, which is funny. But let’s set that issue aside for a moment.
LS: [Laughs] Okay.
CB: And just say, with the advent of the internet and the advent of different resources online, you know, like fifteen years ago in the mid-2000s when I was coming up in only like, five years into my study, blogs just started to become a big thing in like, the mid- to late-2000s.
CB: And that was like a new form. Not just as a medium that astrologers started using to express their views and write articles that suddenly was new and novel as publishing moved more online. And it became easier to publish your thoughts and you no longer had to just write a book about it, or get in a newsletter, or like a magazine. But suddenly people were able to like, write blogs. And you could go on Google and do a search and suddenly find people writing like 20 different blog articles about this one topic, or placement, or what have you. But nowadays you have not just that. But you also have Youtube where there’s like literally hundreds, perhaps thousands of astrologers regularly releasing videos on different topics. There’s a ton of podcasts nowadays. There’s online webinars and online courses and stuff that you can take. There’s ebooks. There’s so many different mediums now where you can learn astrology. It seems like it’s more accessible. And there’s so much more astrology out there that’s accessible, and so many different ways of learning it. And it’s not all just like, paid. A lot of this is free stuff that’s just like super valuable things. Like for example this podcast, not to like–
LS: [Laughs] Not to pat yourself on the back.
CB: Not to pat myself on the back too much. But where it’s astrologers, you know, like myself that are trying to teach the best of what they know at that point. And then sometimes just putting it out there for free. And people sometimes very early in their studies… That’s the thing that blows me away constantly, is when people write in and say, “I’ve only been studying astrology for a few months. But I found your podcast relatively early in my studies, and it’s then become one of the primary things that I’m predicating my studies around.” So that blows me away, because I’m trying to put the best into the episodes that I can sometimes. And sometimes teaching very high level astrology that’s not necessarily, I’m not assuming that beginners will get it. But sometimes that is becoming the basis for some new people’s studies. And I do feel like that’s – things like that, obviously not just this – but many different things like that are in some instances accelerating people’s studies beyond what they would have been, or could have been, ten or twenty or thirty years ago. And that has raised a question then about, is the litmus test, or the length of time that you needed to study astrology, like me. That I felt like, you know, around the five-year mark I felt like I needed to start pushing myself and I started eventually seeing clients. And I would see other people around the five-year mark. That seemed common. But was that only true and relevant at that point in time? Has that changed at all? Is the rapid acceleration with which people can learn astrology through different mediums at this point in time, has that maybe even narrowed the window? I don’t really know. I mean that’s an open question that’s worth, you know, discussing and thinking about.
LS: Yeah, I mean I kind of think so. Although it’s not universal, again. You know, it’s what resources people come upon and avail themselves of, but I certainly have encountered that in terms of like, clients. Some clients come to me who have started learning astrology but have only been doing it for like, a year.
LS: And they know so much already that I wouldn’t have known for maybe like seven to eight years. Something like that. So yeah, it’s fascinating. And I think similarly, you know, a lot of the people who are very young, you know, early- to mid-twenties know so much astrology. Certainly not all of them. You know, you can’t really say all of anything. But a lot of younger people have learned very quickly advanced stuff, because it is out there as resources now. And oftentimes as free resources. And so yeah, I do think, not that everyone knows a lot quickly, but it’s possible to learn a lot more quickly, I think, than before. You wouldn’t have to go to just whoever is available in your local town, for instance, to learn from. You know, the one or two or three astrologers in your town.
CB: Right, or only be able to get consultations with astrologers in your own town.
LS: Mhm, yeah.
CB: Nowadays you can get consultations with like anybody around the world through Skype or Zoom or what have you. Or oftentimes you can take online classes or webinars, or other stuff with other people around the world. And while there’s some of that obviously that existed decades ago, like phone consultations or getting like the tapes of a workshop or attending a workshop or what have you, it’s just really been accelerated. I feel like much more in the past decade than at any other time.
LS: Yeah, I agree. I–
CB: So there’s some– go ahead.
LS: I was just going to say, yeah I was commenting on that recently. Or sort of a broader thing, but touches on that. The sort of democratic nature of the internet, and how that produces inherently both positive and negative results at once. And one of them is because it opens up so much, you know, resource-wise and also audience-wise. Like, you can become a practicing astrologer perhaps a little more quickly because you have the internet. And so you have a platform. And so, you know, the resources opening up is very democrat– what is the word? Democratizing? Yes. And so I think that’s super helpful. I think the flipside that some people get upset about is then it allows you to sort of have an audience quickly, if you do want to use the internet, as far as like a springboard for launching your own practice of astrology. And some people sort of gauge that appropriately, as to like when they should do that. And maybe some people, just because they can, you know, do it a little more quickly. I don’t know, though, that that’s terribly different than who would have done that without the internet.
CB: Yeah. I mean, let’s play devil’s advocate though, and say there are occasionally some people that start studying astrology and then very quickly, through social media or what have you, and through either just getting lucky or in some instances being adept at like using social media, can build up a following of like thousands of followers or hundred thousands of followers, while they’re still relatively early in their studies. And then sometimes there might be a tendency to want to try to monetize that. Or start moving into doing consultations relatively quickly compared to, you know, let’s say what other older astrologers are used to. And so sometimes older astrologers when they see that, even younger astrologers sometimes when they see that say, “That person doesn’t seem to know that much and it’s surprising that they’re charging already, or that they’re charging that much given how recently they started studying astrology in general, or studying this specific approach.”
CB: So that is definitely a drawback and that’s I think the starting point for this entire discussion really, is that oftentimes that’s where the discussion comes from is the lack of regulation in the field. And the lack of standardization. And the fact that it’s largely entirely on the person to start to decide when they’re ready to start seeing clients means that sometimes there are instances where people perhaps start earlier than they should or before they’re ready, or before their knowledge of astrology is like fully matured. And sometimes you can see that from little tells. If they don’t know about a certain concept, or there’s like a basic concept that’s widely understood and the person isn’t familiar with it. Or something like that is usually how that comes up.
LS: Mhm, right, right. Though again I want to bring up that that isn’t necessarily correlated with age. Because I’ve seen people do that who don’t know like, a ton of astrology. Maybe they know some. But they like, wildly overcharge or something like that earlier in their studies and they’re not necessarily like twenty. So you can do that when you’re, you know, forty.
CB: Yeah, right exactly. Well, and that’s the problem, is because some people when they see that, they immediately jump to this solution of assuming that this is a matter of age and therefore that’s why we should set a barrier of that a person shouldn’t see clients or do consultations until their Saturn return or after their Saturn return, assuming that’s just a byproduct of age.
CB: And while maybe now we’re seeing more of that in terms of age, it’s not necessarily limited or restricted to that. And that’s why attempting to impose an age restriction on it, I think, is misplaced.
LS: Yeah, exactly. Yeah I’ve definitely seen, you know, the isolated person here or there that are older, and that are maybe dressing up a very little bit of astrological knowledge. You know, and charging maybe more than their peers or that kind of thing. So yeah, it’s definitely not an age thing.
CB: So that’s one of the reasons why that’s kind of like an inappropriate or certainly not foolproof solution to the whole issue of people starting to practice astrology before their knowledge of the subject is fully matured.
LS: Mhm, yeah. Yeah and that just brings me back again to like tying in practitioners to, you know, are they tied into the professional community? Or are they only out there on their own on the internet or something? You know, it’s not a foolproof litmus test. But it is oftentimes a tell of, you know, whether people know what they’re doing is appropriate based on, like, a community of other practitioners.
CB: Yeah, well and also that because of the lack of standardization and certification. Even though certification exists it’s not a requirement for practicing nor is it… you know, there’s different arguments about its usefulness. That’s why when it comes to that whole issue, really one of the only enforcement mechanisms that does exist that allows astrologers to keep some standards in the field, or set some standards, is sort of what your peers think of you. And being aware of what your peers think of you, being engaged in a community of your peers. And in some instances the expressing of disapproval amongst a peer group or group of colleagues towards somebody that’s doing something that’s deemed inappropriate is one of the only mechanisms within the astrological community that sort of keeps some standards in place.
LS: Mhm, yeah, exactly.
CB: So that’s obviously, that’s difficult to like quantify and that’s a very tricky subject in and of itself. But that is a sort of thing [that] exists and for the most part is probably a somewhat useful mechanism. Yeah, and just in terms of sometimes when somebody’s doing something that’s not great, there being some sort of like, recourse. Or some sort of factor in the field that does something to counterbalance it.
LS: Mhm, yeah. Although there’s not too much tangible, you know, that can be done. It’s more about, like, sort of community disapproval just in terms of talking.
CB: Yeah, which, like if somebody’s super unethical, what happens is the person just doesn’t care and disregards it. And if they’re just off doing their own thing, sort of doing sketchy stuff, which is– usually like, when you find somebody that’s occasionally very sketchy and doing something in astrology, they often are a loner. Because they don’t have other large contacts within the community because they’re known to be sort of like abusing the subject or using it in a weird way and so they don’t often have a lot of connections.
CB: Whereas let’s say even like conferences, to give a concrete example. Because I feel like we’re talking about this very broadly to avoid getting into trouble.
LS: Sure. [Laughs]
CB: But like, if a person gave talks at conferences, but then they did something bad at a conference and therefore were not invited back or were, like, banned from a conference. That’s obviously presumably something the person would want to avoid. And therefore there’s a mechanism or a motivation for not wanting to like, I don’t know, do something bad at a conference, however you quantify that.
LS: Sure. Or, you know, again it’s not a perfect litmus test. But like, being invited to speak at conferences and then, you know, like how is that received? I mean again, you know, people can be invited for pure merit. Or sometimes by, you know, they know someone, or something like that. But still, you know, you can’t go to a conference and actually give a talk, and if it’s like truly terrible, you know people will talk about that.
CB: Yeah, well I mean and that’s almost, that’s a thing in and of itself, just about the quality. But let’s say the person like, you know, went into a talk and then expressed racist views or something like that and then were sort of like shunned from the community.
CB: That’s like an example, I think, more of what we’re talking about, in terms of like, something that’s unethical that gets them ejected from a community of their peers in some way. Even if there’s not official mechanisms that sort of enforce some of those things, there are unofficial things that do set some different types of standards in the community. And some of those things are ongoing and evolving, in terms of what the different moral standards are in different time periods. In terms of what’s appropriate or not appropriate. I mean, you know, a lot of things have changed in the past like ten or twenty years regarding how astrologers talk about things like gender or sexual orientation, or other things like that. I can imagine there’s certain things in that area that could have passed like 40 or 50 years ago in a conference talk that would not go over as well today.
LS: Sure, yeah and that does happen. I was kind of getting back on the sort of quality piece in terms of whether people are ready educationally and so forth to, you know, just practice professionally.
CB: Yeah, like if a person’s like, giving a talk and somebody raises their hand and asks them about what a transit is or something like that and the person says, “What’s a transit?”
LS: Sure, yeah.
CB: Like something really basic like that.
LS: Yeah, so I mean there are things like that. But yeah, obviously it’s not a very enclosed system, without regulation it’s more informal.
CB: So we’re getting to some of the later points. and some of the later stuff was things like financial realities now versus previously and the need to monetize your skills and knowledge. This is both seen– usually when I hear this framed, it’s framed more of a negative way. But it’s both a positive and a negative thing. Like nowadays with the internet and everything else, more people than ever are able to set up their own business and pursue their interests. And sometimes pursue their hobby as an actual career versus as just a hobby or a side thing that they do for the majority of their life. And for me, usually that’s a very positive thing. And I see that as a positive thing that maybe it’s easier now to pursue a career as an astrologer and make it and become successful than perhaps it’s been at any other time.
LS: Possibly so with the sort of worldwide audience that you can cultivate. Although I usually hear that phrase more in terms of the necessity of monetizing, in terms of the cost of living often being much higher than it was when, say, some of the astrologers got started several decades ago.
CB: Yeah. I mean I know it’s usually framed that way, in a negative way. That people are sometimes framing it recently as like, the necessity of monetizing one’s passion or one’s hobby or interest. But certainly there’s a downside to it in terms of the rising cost of living in the world, and expenses and lower wages, or things like that. But also just, in a positive note, just the ability like the fact that I’ve made it as an astrologer for the past ten years, or what have you, and have been able to at the age of 15 decided like, that when I discovered astrology, that this is what I wanted to do with my life. And then sort of single-mindedly approached the study of it, and went to college for it. Then went to a translation project for ancient astrological texts. Then I spent ten years writing a book on it. And then I started a podcast randomly in 2012. And now here we are today. And then I’ve been employed as an astrologer full-time for more than ten years now, since the last time I had a day job.
CB: Which you remember. You remember the day that I called you, and I was like, “You know, I’m gonna quit my job today. I think I’m done with this. I really need to just do astrology full time.”
LS: Right, yeah I do remember.
CB: You were a little startled.
LS: [Laughs] I was like, “Okay, when?” And you were like, “I think in about like, ten minutes when I get back from my break.” [Laughs]
LS: [Laughs] I’m like, “Okay, sure. As long as you think that’ll work.”
CB: Right. Well it worked out.
LS: Yeah. [Laughs]
CB: But that’s one of the reasons why I think it’s possible. If I can do it, like, other people can do it. I’m always interested in and focusing on encouraging other people to do that. And to make that transition whether they’re older or younger, or what have you. I obviously also have, due to my background, like a side interest and a side focus in terms of younger astrologers because I got into the field in my teens and went professional in my 20s. And while I was in my 20s I became the president of the Association for Young Astrologers, which really advocated for, you know, there being a need to help younger or newer astrologers that were coming into the field. And giving them a direction, and a heads up, and a leg up in order to be able to be successful in the field. Whether they’re just studying astrology as a hobby, or want to do it as a profession, or what have you.
LS: Right, yeah and I was on the board of that for a bit as well. Yeah, I think we’re both interested in sort of actively welcoming younger and newer astrologers into the field. And kind of what the experience is of newer astrologers coming into the field and what the reception is from, you know, people who have been around longer.
CB: Yeah, and I’m trying to pull up– so one of my anecdotes is when I was like 23, I went to my first United Astrology Conference. And I was the president of the Association for Young Astrologers and we had some t-shirts printed up for the Association for Young Astrologers.
LS: Right, yeah.
CB: And James Holden had just published this translation of the famous centiloquy, which is a series of a hundred aphorisms, that’s attributed to Ptolemy. But it was actually probably written by this ninth- or tenth-century Arabic author. So it’s usually referred to as pseudo-Ptolemy. But there’s this amazing quote in one of the aphorisms, and I got James Holden to let us put it on the back of the shirt that all of the Association for Young Astrologers members wore to this huge conference that had like 1,500 astrologers attending. And the quote said, and this is a translation from the Latin by James Holden, he says, “The mind suitable for foreknowledge obtains the truth more than the one practicing the art the most.” And I thought it was a pretty obvious–
CB: –and pointed and appropriate, like, comment in my like, infinite wisdom as a 23-year-old.
LS: [Laughs] Right.
CB: Although I was a little surprised when I got there that nobody seemed to get the quote, except for like one person–
LS: Yeah, because I was–
CB: –who was you.
LS: Because I saw that quote and, you know, of course, it’s appropriate for the Association for Young Astrologers to have a quote like that. But I was also– it was very pointed, you know? And I was like, “Wow, that’s really bold of you to put that on the shirts at like, a conference with mostly older astrologers,” you know?
CB: Yeah so, “The mind suitable for foreknowledge obtains the truth, more than the one practicing the art the most.” So another way to phrase that is just, somebody that is particularly gifted with astrology, or has an aptitude for astrology, may take to it then may learn it and may excel in the field faster than somebody, even if they’ve been studying it for longer, but maybe don’t have as much of an aptitude for whatever reason is the basic gist of the quote.
LS: Right, yeah, which is still kind of cheeky, but. [Laughs]
CB: Yeah. But so that’s one of the reasons why when talking about this topic–and that’s the reason I wanted to do this episode on it. Not necessarily because it’s been a recent debate or discussion topic, but this is obviously like a long-standing thing for me. And it’s one of the reasons why even though I’m in my mid-30s now, I still continue to be, and will probably always be, an advocate for younger astrologers to whatever extent I can. Because I did have those occasional people in my life that were older astrologers in their, you know, 30s and 40s and 50s and 60s and 70s, that helped me out when I came into the field. Those people like Demetra George or in the recent episode, Alan Oken and that story about me showing up to a conference, like, broke and destitute and just planning on like, fasting for the entire week. And then he gave me like 40 dollars out of nowhere. There’s, you know, there’s different approaches I think, and I’m starting to see this now as I see some of my contemporaries get older. And I see sometimes their reaction to seeing newer astrologers coming into the field that are sometimes different, or doing different approaches, or doing things differently than how we did it when we came into the field. And it’s interesting seeing like, sometimes there’s strong reactions one way or another. And sometimes there’s people that are like, “That’s weird, and that’s not good. And I don’t approve of that.” But other times there’s other people that are like, “I don’t understand it. That’s not my thing. But do whatever you guys need to do. And that’s what I did when I was your age as well, so I’m in support of it even if that’s not my thing.”
CB: And that’s more of my approach. And as I get older realizing that that’s, to me at least, the better approach for the most part. Because yeah, every generation that comes in is going to have their unique things. And things are gonna be slightly different or in a different environment. And you may not resonate with that at a certain point once you move into an older generational group but that may not matter whether or not you resonate with it, because it may not be for you necessarily.
LS: Yeah, for sure. And I have noticed, you know, maybe I wasn’t quite as young as you were, you know, when I first started into the field. I think I was about 27 when I started studying seriously, which was about a year before my Saturn return started, and then yeah, started doing like little mini readings very occasionally at maybe about 30, and so forth. So it was more in my 30s that I was getting into the community. But even so, just because there were generationally so many Pluto in Leos. You know, the Pluto in Virgo and Libra generations were still younger for a while. And now they’re kind of like, in between. Now there’s this huge Pluto in Scorpio generation coming up. And then a little bit more Sag even starting. But I noticed, you know, even more subtly sometimes, and sometimes not as subtly, you know, either encouragement or not encouragement. Maybe active welcoming or sort of like, a little bit of like, not so much. You know? And from people who have been around longer. And that matters, you know, even if it’s more subtle you can tell and that shapes your experience coming into a field. It was funny to me for a while how very long you could be a young astrologer, you could be considered a young astrologer, simply because there were so many Pluto in Leos. And so the Pluto in Libra and Virgos were like, young forever.
CB: Yeah, so there were so many people that were in their 60s and 70s that came in in that generation, that huge influx that for the longest time, like people in their 30s and 40s were still considered young astrologers?
LS: Yeah, exactly, which was kind of funny. But yeah, so I mean I definitely felt those different experiences with different individuals in how they, you know, approached me. And so I definitely feel more of the need to pass on more of the welcoming pieces, because I know how much better that felt than the opposite. But sometimes, people are really great at that, you know? Who are, who have been around the field for much longer but still want to welcome new people in. And sometimes conversely, you know, some people can get a little bit more entrenched or territorial about things. And so I try to, yeah, I try to more deliberately be welcoming.
CB: Yeah, me too. And also just as I get older, I can see now and understand better that thing that they always say, which is just like, the older generation of anything is automatically, there’s gonna be an inherent archetype and like feeling that like, everything older was better and it was better back in the day. But also that like the new generation, like everything is becoming bad and like decaying or–
LS: Right, corrupt, yeah.
CB: Everything’s become corrupt in, like, the newer generation.
CB: And so when I see things like people, just to give a very specific example of one of those things that I think is not a big deal, but very occasionally I’ve heard, and we’ve talked about before on the podcast, people complaining about is like, memes. That astrology memes are like, ruining astrology. Or something like that. And that’s like a new medium that especially younger astrologers, although not just young astrologers, are using to communicate astrological information and archetypes or interpretations. Or to popularize astrology that’s become very effective and useful and funny, whatever, engaging. But some people see that as like, the corruption of the field and the downward spiral of astrology or something like that. On some level there was probably some reaction like that fifteen years ago, to like blogs or stuff like that. Where all of a sudden, having an astrological book or an astrological publisher, that was no longer the gate that you had to go through to publish your thoughts and have written thoughts, and gain authority in the field. But instead there were people that were taking matters in their own hand and were able to, like, start writing about astrology and developing follower and developing a reputation, and clients, and students, just by writing a blog. And honestly, that’s kind of how I first got started. Not just with doing the forum on MySpace, but also, writing my first blog which was the Horoscopic Astrology Blog. And that worked out so well that we then expanded it to other spinoff sites. Like you and I did Saturn Return Stories. And Patrick Watson and I did the Political Astrology Blog at one point that we started in 2009. And there was just blogs everywhere for a while. I still have way too many websites.
LS: Yeah, and I think– I can’t think of the quote right now, but I know I’ve seen funny quotes from like, a few thousand years ago that were like saying the exact same thing. Like, this new generation is, you know, basically just, like, corrupt and the downfall of society. So that is more of a perennial thing about just the lifespan and generations in general.
CB: Yeah. But it’s something I’ve come to understand better sometimes seeing the reactions of some of my contemporaries who aren’t that old, or maybe in their 30s and 40s. How sometimes they’re reacting to little cultural things being done by younger astrologers primarily today.
LS: Right, yeah.
CB: Yeah. Alright, are there other points that we wanted to touch upon here? I mean, I think there was like an anecdote we didn’t get to tell, but I don’t know where to fit it in.
LS: Yeah. [Laughs]
CB: But it’s a nice like, almost parable of like, youth and age and other topics, or something like that.
CB: So, I went to – and it’s part of our back story – so we both attended the United Astrology Conference in 2008 and I had been studying astrology for almost ten years. And because one of my teachers dropped out, I ended up filling in for him and taking his place. And went from– I actually got rejected from speaking both in my initial application and even as a backup. Like a free speech lecture got rejected. And at the time I was actually really pissed off about it, because I felt like my age had to do with that. But then, like a week before the conference, due to one of my teachers, Robert Schmidt, suddenly dropping out and saying he was sick and not showing up at the conference, I was then substituted in to fill in for him basically. Because I had just spent two years studying there at Project Hindsight and studying Hellenistic astrology. So I was the best person to replace him at that point. So I gave two talks there, and suddenly became like a main speaker at this conference. And we printed up those shirts, those AYA shirts. The Association for Young Astrologers had a very big showing at that conference. We rented out a bunch of hotel rooms, including one like, master suite. And we packed like ten or twelve astrologers in there, sleeping on blow up mattresses on the floor and stuff like that, just in order to drop the cost and make it more affordable. So people, younger astrologers with limited incomes could attend this conference. That ended up– because it was in Denver, and you were living in Boulder, ended up being your first conference.
LS: Mhm, yeah.
CB: And we had just met shortly before that. But there at the conference you had told me that if I ever needed help or whatever checking out the university library in Boulder, because you had recently been going to the university in Boulder, that just to let you know, or something like that, right?
LS: Mhm, yeah. Yeah I was going for a grad program and dropped out, and started just doing astrology instead. But yeah, I was still living in Boulder. And I think I might have still had library privileges or something.
CB: Okay, and so I’m 23 at this point. And so after that conference, which was at the end of May and June, I did like, hit you up. And I said, “Okay, yeah. I definitely– it looks like the university in Boulder, which had a strong classics program, actually has a lot of, like, important academic texts on astrology. Including some translations of some ancient astrological texts I would like to check out.” So I was like, “Could you take me on a tour of that and show me where the different libraries are?” And so we met up that day and went there. And I asked you to take me to what I had seen in the listing a bunch of times coming up for some of the major books I was looking for on astrology. It was abbreviated, but it looked like it said the metaphysical stacks. So I asked you to take me to, like, the metaphysical stacks at this library. And then you laughed like it was hilarious.
LS: [Laughs] I did find it quite hilarious for a very long time. And I, you know, had to correct you and be like, “I think you mean the math and physics stacks.”
LS: And, you know, this is like a large state university library and does not have a metaphysical section. [Laughs]
CB: Which I was surprised and disappointed about. But it turned out that that abbreviation was math / physics, not metaphysics stacks library.
LS: Yeah, exactly.
LS: Yeah, I giggled for a good long while about that. [Laughs]
CB: So that was my inexperience as like a 23-year-old who, yeah, had gone to Kepler college and then gone and studied at a translation project. There’s certain things that perhaps you don’t know about the world, or what have you, yet, until you have that experience, or you make that mistake. And then you learn something from it. But, so we went and checked out the library. I think I actually grabbed a translation of some– it wasn’t a translation. It was a critical edition of some Greek text that I’d been wanting to get that was super expensive. And then I think I very quickly photocopied parts of it while you, like, looked around sort of nervously.
LS: [Laughs] Yeah.
CB: And then we left after we had done a full tour and everything. But as we were walking out down the campus, like, it started raining so we ran off under past this pond to this, like, little alcove area where there was– sort of to avoid getting rained on. And we’re like, sitting there waiting for it to stop raining. And I asked to see your chart. And you actually had a printed version of your chart from Astro.com, I believe.
LS: Yeah, that sounds about right, yeah.
CB: Well if you’re a newer student of astrology in the first few years like there’s a pretty good chance that you’re carrying around–
LS: Yeah. [Laughs]
CB: –a printed copy of your chart.
LS: Yeah, exactly. [Laughs]
CB: For like just that situation, where you find yourself with another astrologer. And you like, whip it out of your pocket.
CB: And like, ask them to interpret it.
CB: So either you did that, or I asked. But either way, the chart was made available.
CB: And I sat there and I did, like, an impromptu delineation of some of the parts of your chart using my approach, which was like a blend or a hybrid, very similar to what it is today, of like Hellenistic astrology using whole sign houses and sect and traditional rulerships and the rulers of the houses, but also still incorporating some modern concepts like the outer planets. And I did some interpretations of your chart. And what was funny is that, like, at least two of the major things that we both remember me saying, you said very clearly right then, like, did not hit and were just like, not accurate.
CB: And one of the things was– I don’t know if I can say the placement. I don’t think you want me to give away too much about your birth chart. But just that– and what’s funny also is, like, I was in my 20s and you were in your 30s at this point.
CB: But I was delineating the chart nonetheless. And made some statements about one of the placements indicating like, involvement with astrological groups or community organizational efforts, or something like that, and you were like, it was funny because at the time– it’s funny now in retrospect and I’ve told this story a few times before on the podcast, because not only– you weren’t just like, “No that’s not correct.”
CB: You were just like, adamant. Like, “Not only is that not correct, but I have absolutely no interest, and have an aversion to anything involving groups.”
LS: Mhm. [Laughs]
CB: “And there is no way that that will ever be correct.” Or something to that extent. I believe, right?
LS: Yeah, I was pretty adamant. Yeah I mean, and it was true at that time. You know, because up to that point, that had been my experience with groups. I didn’t really like group involvement. And I didn’t feel comfortable in groups, and so forth. So when you said, “Yeah, this should be, you know, an important area of your life that you’d, you know, be really involved with,” I was kinda like, “Hell no.” [Laughs]
CB: Yes, you were, in no uncertain terms, very unkindly rejecting of that delineation as being valid in your life.
CB: In any way whatsoever.
LS: That’s true.
CB: And so I, over the past ten years now, have never not taken the opportunity to point out that you eventually, somewhat reluctantly, and definitely not at my urging because I had actually in the early 2000s been like the research director of the NCGR and I had been the president of AYA. And I did this whole stint doing organizational stuff and just found it hugely exhausting, and like a huge time sink and also sometimes like really unpleasant and uncomfortable when you got stuck in different, like, dynamics with groups and power struggles, and things like that. And I was like, at a stage in the early 2010s where I was very much like, adamantly getting away from groups and telling other people, like, “Don’t waste your time,” to a certain extent, which I’m much past, and I’ve changed my view on now. But in the early 2010s I was definitely telling you not to move in that direction. Despite that, you still ended up joining sort of reluctantly in the early 2010s, a few years after I did that delineation, the Association for Astrological Networking, AFAN, which is one of the three or four large astrological organizations in the US. And then eventually you became the chair of that organization, which is essentially the president of that organization. And then just recently actually, in the past month, after a very long and successful career with that organization ended up stepping down as the chair, and handing the reins of the organization over to a new person, right?
LS: Yeah, I joined the steering committee, which is essentially the board, in 2011 and then I became the presiding officer in 2014. And then did a term, almost like a term and two-thirds really, because I had to get re-elected before UAC, which was, again, putting together a very large gathering of, you know, community colleagues and so forth. 11th house type of things. [Laughs]
CB: Just to clarify, you helped organize and at one point were sort of spearheading in some ways, I would even say, what became one of the largest conferences of the entire decade, in the entire world. Astrological conferences that occurred in Chicago in May of 2008.
LS: 2018, yeah.
CB: 2018, okay.
LS: Yeah, and so I was re-elected in 2017, I think, and then just finally recently stepped down and someone else is now becoming the presiding officer. So yeah, that was like a whole eight-year stint in the realm of community and groups and organizations, which is exactly what you were trying to point to in 2008, had not been my experience at all up to that point, but was later. [Laughs] And I know you really like telling the story.
CB: I really love telling the story.
LS: Yeah. [Laughs]
CB: Because, also this just ties in, and we’re doing this anecdote because of, A) obviously because I have to just take every opportunity I can to rub this in your face.
LS: [Laughs] Right.
CB: But just that, I was only 23 at the time and I was probably not entirely, but partially or let’s say largely, basing that delineation just on the conceptual symbolism of what that placement should mean.
LS: Yeah, definitely.
CB: And you, at the time actually, were older than me and you were post-Saturn return. You were in your 30s, so you had more life experience than I did, as the older person, but you had been studying astrology for less time than I had at that point.
CB: So despite that, despite those things going against me of using like, conceptual symbolism and having far, far less, you know, experience and age than you at the time was able to make an accurate statement about your life that would become, if I say so, stunningly, stunningly accurate–
LS: [Laughs] Stunningly.
CB: –in the long-term about something that would manifest in your life at some point. And in retrospect, if somebody writes a biography about your life, that’s going to be one of the main things that’s mentioned in your biography, is that you were the president of one of the major astrological organizations for a long stint in the mid-2010s.
LS: Mhm, right, yeah. And that definitely came true. And we’ve also used that, of course, as an example of how things can be episodic in people’s lives and just because something isn’t true yet you know, it can be true later.
CB: Yeah, many different lessons–
LS: [Laughing] Yes.
CB: –that were learned from that. That we’ve then gone on to–
LS: Yeah, to repeat.
CB: –to repeat, ad nauseam.
LS: Yeah, right.
CB: As a teaching example. And that’s again, that’s like an empirical thing that we learned of. Like, “Oh, okay.” So not every statement that you make, especially when you’re doing more predictive forms of astrology, is gonna be accurate at all times in a person’s life but there’s some parts of the chart that may not be unlocked until later on at certain specific times in the person’s life when there’s an activation by time-lords or progressions, or transits, or what have you.
LS: Right, yeah. And so we thought this was kind of a good example of both of the sides of this discussion. Because on the one hand, you were using symbolic reasoning and so forth. And you know, technical education about how astrological charts should work and what should be symbolized by what.
CB: Like technical proficiency?
LS: Yeah, in order to make the statement, even though you were pretty young. And it turned out to be correct. The other piece, though, was the, you know, it was more peripheral, but kind of the general life experience or not of, you know, thinking perhaps that CU Boulder had metaphysical library stacks. And sort of the, you know, what is telling about that. [Laughs]
CB: I’m still disappointed by that. Well, that being said, like in my defense, the math / physics library at CU Boulder does have a surprising amount of astrological texts because astrology ends up falling under the broad category of, like, history of science, is usually the category that it’s studied under in academia at this point.
CB: And that’s one of the ways which I didn’t know before, while I was still in high school, and I wish I did know. But I’m glad to be able to tell people nowadays that that’s one of the ways that people are, like, covertly studying astrology in academia, and getting degrees at actual universities at this point. And then going on to become, you know, university professors and do academic scholarship on the history of astrology, as they’re studying astrology within the context of the history of science because astrology was viewed, even though it’s not viewed in modern times this way, it was viewed in the ancient world prior to the 20th century, or prior to the 17th century, as a science. And so you can study it in an academic setting within the context of the history of science.
CB: Or history of mathematics in some instances, due to the connection with astronomy.
LS: Mhm, right, ancient astronomy.
CB: Alright, are there any things, was that–
CB: Should we belabor that point about the delineation anymore? Or was that–
LS: No, I don’t think so. I think that was plenty of belaboring. [Laughs]
CB: Okay, we’ll move on, alright. [Laughs]
LS: I had a couple other things I wanted to get in, in the discussion. One of which was other types of life experience versus age. Because sometimes people sort of make age as a blanket, you know, arbiter of, you have this many years of life experience of observing life, and therefore you should kind of have a broader understanding of how lives can go. We touched on this a little bit earlier but I just kinda wanted to problematize that a little bit more because I’ve noticed that oftentimes there’s really not uniformity at all in terms of people’s observations of lives outside their own. Particularly this comes down to, you know, things that can be differences between people. And yeah, so let’s see, what was I saying about that…yeah, just observing a variety of life circumstances. There’s actually a pinned tweet on my Twitter account that says, “To practice astrology well, it’s vital to understand the spectrum of human experience that is possible, both the highs and lows. Not only psychological highs and lows, but all actual circumstances and events that human beings can and do experience, even if outside your own.” And–
CB: That’s a very wordy tweet.
LS: Thank you. And [Laughs] I always do longer tweets than you. And I went on from there. It was a small thread. But you know, it’s worth sort of pointing out, because just because people have, say, several decades of life experience, that isn’t necessarily the case that they’re paying attention to lives outside their own, maybe race, class, gender, sexual orientation, ability, things like this. And those are kind of catchphrases these days. But honestly, they are, you know, important differences of how different pieces of your life can go based on some of these things. And I notice many younger people who are much more sort of astutely attuned to like all of those differences. And not just in a sort of political correctness kind of way but yeah, in fact, this can make a difference in how you’re talking to someone about their life and what you’re expecting in that conversation.
CB: Yeah, I mean there can be ways in which youth can be an advantage in some sense in that ways versus the opposite, versus being something that’s working against you.
LS: Yeah, and it’s not to say that even has to be pinned to either youth or having more age. It’s just a separate factor that I think people don’t often problematize in sort of easily assuming that with age comes life experience but that may not be a broad life experience, you know?
CB: Right, well, and also this takes it back to an earlier point that we sort of touched on, but I feel like we glossed over, which is just, like, the Saturn return is not experienced the same for everybody. It can be experienced in wildly different ways depending on how Saturn is situated in your chart.
CB: Not just in terms of its condition, but also in terms of like, what house it’s placed in and what houses it’s ruling in terms of what areas of life or what topics come up during the course of your Saturn return. And that’s one of the other reasons why I feel like the Saturn return distinction is a little bit sketchy when people start emphasizing that too much as like the end all and be all of astrological transits that tell you when you’re officially an adult, and when you’re officially ready to be an astrologer is, while that may have been true for some astrologers, that they go through their Saturn return and that’s the official point where they’re ready to start seeing clients and that was their transition to adulthood. That may have been because of how Saturn is set up in their specific chart. And that may not necessarily be the case for somebody else. Somebody else may have been prepared much earlier, and their Saturn return may not have to do with that. Like for example, I had been seeing clients for years by that point. And a lot of us were taking, like, bets on whether my Saturn return would be me finally publishing my book, which I ended up working on for like a decade or more before I finally got it published. And what ended up happening with my Saturn return was finally achieving career success and stability for the most part in the field. Enough that I was able to save up enough money and then, shortly after my Saturn return, stop seeing clients and spend a final year writing the book, or re-writing the book from scratch, and then publishing it. So it actually ended up coming out after my Saturn return, so a lot of bets were lost on that one. But, while it was still a professional sort of period for me, there was a lot of other stuff going on in my Saturn return. But while that was a turning point to some extent, it wasn’t necessarily and didn’t need to be a turning point in terms of seeing clients because that’s not always, like, the pinnacle of everybody’s astrological careers. Or that’s not always necessarily what their career in astrology is all about, or focused on necessarily.
LS: Right, yeah. And while career and, you know, major life structures are ruled by Saturn, to some degree, and so a lot of that can come up during a Saturn return, some people’s certainly are more focused on that versus someone else not having Saturn really connected to their career topics at all in their chart.
LS: So, yeah, for sure. Yeah and I think, you know, there was one point that was kind of brought up in some of these discussions I wanted to push back a little bit against. Which was that some people, you know, can go through sort of more challenging, perhaps Saturnian, experiences earlier in life. And therefore they’re kind of more prepared or more mature to, you know, to give readings to others. And while I think that can be true a little bit, you know, the Saturnian experiences are only one type of life experience. You know, and there’s all the other planets, everything else that is signified. And I’m speaking as someone who, you know, had some kind of challenging Saturnian experiences early in life. But I don’t think that really is the piece that prepares you. I think it can make you more likely to be drawn to a subject like astrology, to kind of understand why things are happening. You know? But I don’t think that in itself makes you, like, a balanced practitioner professionally. I think you need other things and you’ll also need to talk to people about subjects that are other than Saturnian. You know, so for instance I know that when I first got into it, yeah I was easily drawn to like why, you know, oh this makes life make sense and that’s great, especially because I’ve had some, you know, hard things. But you have to talk to people even if you’re coming from that perspective about, like, career success and making lots of money. And you know, like all of your clients are gonna be different people having different backgrounds. And they might not want to talk to you about hard things. That’s not really the arbiter of, like, doing astrology even if that can be true in some consultations.
LS: Yeah, so I just wanted to push back a little bit against that because I just don’t think the Saturnian, even if people can have earlier Saturnian experiences before the Saturn return, is really what should be the main focus necessarily.
CB: Sure, yeah. And there’s other important, like, life marker transits, like the Uranus opposition or the first Uranus– like the second Uranus opposition. Or no, the first Uranus opposition.
LS: Mhm, yeah.
CB: Sorry, the Uranus square.
CB: Or yeah, there’s just like tons of different ones or different important markers that, depending on the person’s chart and how it’s set up, play a different role in life. And that’s one of the reasons why sometimes when the Saturn return thing starts getting emphasized, I almost am concerned that it’s being used from more of like a pop astrology sort of sense, which is making a very blanket statement that’s very, like, un-nuanced. And like, comes off almost like Mercury retrograde and how Mercury retrograde has become this like, sometimes two-dimensional pop-culture idea that’s out there right now. That people associate just very basic ideas, and it’s not, like, a nuanced thing but then once you get into astrology, you realize it’s more complicated than that. And you have to be a little bit careful about how it’s discussed, since there’s many different possible manifestations. And obviously the Saturn return is like that, but if you’re treating the Saturn return like it should be the same for everybody, and it’s a permanent standard by which nobody can do anything prior to that, then you’re almost treating it in a pop-culture sense, which feels problematic.
LS: Mhm, yeah. That makes sense. I think, you know, by and large the Saturn return is very important as a life-stage marker. But it’s certainly not– it doesn’t go the same for everyone. And it doesn’t have to mean the same things for everyone.
CB: So as we start to get towards the end of this and wrap this up, I want to go back to the earlier point, which is just like, there’s always gonna be some astrologers that jump into doing readings too soon and that’s always gonna happen. And we can’t control that, especially in a field like this that’s so unregulated, and kind of like the wild west in some ways. There’s not really anything we can do about that. And also, due to the changing rates at which people can learn astrology, and learn, like, really good astrology, it’s really hard for me to even set a marker on how long a person should study before they become a professional astrologer and start charging money to see clients. And I mean, I did see some tweets that were responding during the whole, like, controversy where there was one person that was being like, “You don’t even have to study astrology that long. You can study it for just, like, a year. And that’s fine. Then you can start seeing clients.” And that did, like, make me pause for a second and see a little bit of the other side. And be like, you know, there’s something a little weird about that that doesn’t set completely right to me and I’m sure may be a bit problematic.
CB: And we have talked about that, I think earlier this year on an episode of the Casual Astrology Podcast. When there’s like periodically sometimes these debates about somebody that’s gotten really big really fast, and may have been moving too fast in their studies but because we can’t control that, and because that’s always gonna be an issue on some level, I’m always more focused on the other end of the spectrum and on those people that are really smart, good, thoughtful astrologers, which are the type of people that we want to be in the field. Or that I want to try to pursue– I want to encourage them to pursue a professional career because I want more people like that in the field. And those are the people that I want to talk to in saying, “Don’t push it past longer than it needs to be.” Don’t put off starting to see clients longer than it needs to be because you’re gonna hold up your studies. And because it’s okay to get in there and start learning and the longer you put that off, the longer you’re gonna hold up your studies to the extent that it’s gonna become detrimental to you at some point rather than helpful.
CB: And I think encouraging those people, to me, is one of the main things because I want to see more smart, thoughtful, careful astrologers in the field doing good work. And one of the ways that that happens is by them starting to do consultations.
LS: Yeah, yeah I would largely agree. And I think, you know, one of the main things, if people are concerned about getting started on–you know, are they ready and so forth, is just again to represent where you are accurately. And that will make you feel better and also be full disclosure for any clients you might see.
LS: You know, say, “This is how long I’ve been studying. This is what I’m charging because of that. This is the type of astrology I’ve been studying.” That kind of thing. So you don’t have to feel like you’re putting yourself out as, like, zero or a hundred. You know like, “I’m an astrologer and therefore that means the same as, like, anyone else out there who knows what.” You know? It’s good to describe where you’re at and what you’re doing, and what you can offer.
CB: Yeah, I mean saying, “I’ve been studying astrology for, you know, five years. And I’m charging 30 dollars or 40 dollars an hour,” or whatever you’re charging. I have no idea if that’s anywhere close to anything. But just stating some of those things up front, you know, is fine and is good practice and is good in terms of full disclosure. And can help justify whatever you’re charging for, whether it’s like a nominal fee or what have you. But sometimes it’s important to start doing that, because it creates a pressure to perform for you. And even though that pressure can be very uncomfortable, and that’s one of the reasons why people put it off, is they don’t want to deal with that. And it makes them nervous and there’s a lot of anticipation building up to it. But it creates a pressure to perform, which is good, because it can help you to become a better astrologer. But also you’re going to get that immediate feedback of sometimes you’re gonna make a delineation and they’re gonna confirm that and iin confirming it or affirming it, it may teach you something or reaffirm something that you’ve learned about astrology. In other instances they’re gonna say, “No.” And other instances you’re gonna end up with like, sitting across from Leisa.
CB: And she’s gonna be like, “That delineation is terrible.” But even in those instances– that’s a bad example because it ended up becoming true, but sometimes in those instances that’s gonna force you to reflect on that. And maybe you weren’t making a good delineation, or maybe you were going too far out there with something. Or there’s something that you need to reconfigure about your understanding of astrology. But that negative reaction that you get, that instantaneous feedback, is gonna be helpful. Or maybe the person will say, “No, it’s not like that. But there’s something, that it’s actually kind of more like this.” And then that, instead of being a complete negation of what you said or what you know, it could just redirect it and modify it a little bit. So in the future you incorporate that into your understanding.
LS: Definitely, yeah. I know I’ve gotten so much better just through practice alone,you know, even after learning what I learned before I started practicing. But it’s just invaluable to start talking with people and get all of those specific examples of how things can play out.
CB: Yeah, and it’s like I understand on the other side the importance, and there’s all these themes of like this sacredness and the importance and the delicateness of, like, people’s psychological state or other things, or sometimes you’re dealing with very delicate issues. Or there can be, like, trauma or sensitivity or all sorts of different things that do come up and are relevant in like a psychological or a counseling context. Or sometimes, like, there’s certain things that just may be above your pay grade and you need to refer this person to see like a professional, like a therapist or something.
LS: For sure.
CB: If it’s just not something that you’re able to deal with, and you recognize that it’s outside of your scope of ability. And I recognize that all of those things are important and true. And there’s a level where that’s all true to a certain extent. But there’s also another level where you do sometimes need to just throw yourself into it and start trying it and it’s not the end of the world if you’re wrong or if you, you know, have a process of trial and error. And sometimes making mistakes is part of that process. And hopefully you don’t really screw up and make a major mistake. And I’m not telling people to go out there and just, like, start doing terrible jobs seeing clients or something like that. And obviously there’s a whole discussion there that perhaps needs to be had. Maybe I’ve had some of those discussions in the past with, like, Mark Jones, and some of our episodes on astrology and counseling or counseling skills that astrologers ideally should know. But I do think if you’ve been studying astrology for a while, whatever that means, and you’re serious and passionate about it, then at some point in order to take your astrological studies to the next level, starting to see clients is definitely an important step in that process and that you shouldn’t over-hype it, or over-idealize what that is in your head, to the point that it’s something that’s unattainable. But instead realize it’s something that’s more approachable if you just sort of push yourself to do it at some point.
LS: Yeah, I agree. And I think we’re both coming from the perspective of like, a prerequisite of you have been studying a while. We’re not saying, you know, just go out and like learn this in 30 days and then go put your shingle out. You know?
LS: But you know, and the stage-wise thing too. I mean I already said that point but you know, starting out with the full disclosure and the low price, and then gradually raising it. And, you know, revising your write up of what your experience is and so forth I think is really useful in not just being full disclosure for potential clients, but for making yourself more comfortable with just entering the process, and progressing through it.
CB: Yeah, definitely just by being honest about who you are and where you’re at with your studies. And you know, the thing I always said, and maybe I already said this earlier. But just, you know, if you have knowledge of astrology, you’ve been studying it for a while, and your client let’s say has not, or hasn’t been studying it for as long as you have, whatever that means, you may have something valuable to offer them in terms of having spent a portion of your life studying this subject and therefore there’s some value in being able to share that with a person. So that in the most general sense is ultimately what’s important in terms of, I think, dictating whether an astrological consultation is valuable, is do you have any sort of knowledge or wisdom, or information that you could share with another person that they don’t necessarily have or that could help them understand something about their life that they might not be able to access otherwise.
LS: Definitely, yeah I would agree.
CB: Alright, well I think then, is there anything else that we meant to touch on, since we’re at like about two hours of this podcast. Or anything that we’re gonna gasp and realize that we didn’t even mention at all even though it was like the most important thing on our list, like five minutes after we stop?
LS: [Laugh] I certainly hope not. I think we’ve talked about a lot of the things. I mean honestly there are, you know, a few subpoints that we could discuss further. But you know, it’s already been a couple hours. So I mean, I think we did touch on a lot of the main points.
CB: Yeah, and there might need to be a follow-up podcast, not necessarily about this topic, but about the other side of the coin that does sometimes come up, and came up, and was a big part of the discussion with the Pluto in Leo generation when depth psychology got integrated more thoroughly into natal astrology, and the way that it was approached if you were using it as an extension of counseling and some of the things that you do need to be careful about that do take specific training or awareness of, or other things like that that might be good for certain follow-up discussions or follow-up talks. If I haven’t touched on those already with, for example, some of the episodes with Mark Jones.
LS: Right, yeah I mean because even though you can put yourself out, and be very explicit, say, “I’m not a therapist,” you know, “I’m not a counselor,” and so forth. And I’m doing more informational things for you. Ultimately, with most forms of astrology, unless you’re doing, like, say selling a house or something like that, like an election. I don’t know. But there’s a lot of forms of astrology even if you’re not trying to be a therapist that still touch on important life issues for people that can be sensitive just because you’re talking about their lives.
CB: Right, definitely.
LS: Yeah so it is good to, you know, have a little bit of orientation as to, like, what do you do with that? How do you go about that, you know?
CB: Yeah, so we’ll maybe touch on that in other episodes in the future.
LS: Sounds good.
CB: Alright, well thanks a lot for joining me for this episode today, and for having this discussion with me. It was a discussion that I really wanted to have. Partially because it was coming off the heat of that discussion on Twitter, partially because it’s like a long-standing thing that I’ve partially been invested in, in like different ways through my work through being a young astrologer. Through my work with the Association for Young Astrologers and more recently with wanting to encourage young astrologers. Obviously, I’m approaching it from a specific perspective as a result of that, but I’m sure there’s more discussions to be had about this. And I’m sure some of those discussions will take place in the comments either on Youtube for the video version of this episode, or on TheAstrologyPodcast.com website, or who knows where else. Hopefully, those discussions can be productive and kept civil and everything else because the point of this was to treat this more like something that can be discussed calmly and rationally. And there are various considerations that went into that in terms of being concerned because we don’t want younger astrologers, especially one of my considerations, was not wanting them to be discouraged, and feel like a lot of older astrologers have this opinion that younger astrologers in their 20s should not be practicing reading charts at all. Because I don’t think that’s a prevailing opinion. I think that’s a relatively small opinion that just occasionally comes up as part of this broader discussion about qualification and certification. So I wanted to try to give a somewhat balanced take on this without giving too much emphasis to the idea that that’s something that lots of older astrologers think. Or that there should be any sort of feelings of shame or guilt surrounding doing clients as a younger astrologer.
LS: Yeah, for sure. It’s sort of just springboarded into like, let’s talk about this topic in general. But I think both of us really want to encourage younger astrologers particularly who are, you know, studying really diligently and thoughtfully to continue on. And to, you know, to get out there and sort of continue the field.
CB: Right, definitely. That is definitely what it’s about and one of my motivations. Alright, well I think that’s it for this episode of The Astrology Podcast. So, thanks for joining me today.
LS: You’re welcome.
CB: And thank you everybody for listening. Thanks to all the patrons that supported the production of this episode of The Astrology Podcast through our page on Patreon.com, and who will get early access to this episode’s or other bonus content that comes with being a subscriber, or a patron. Yeah, and thanks everybody for watching or listening. So that’s it for this episode of The Astrology Podcast. Thanks for listening, and we’ll see you again next time.
LS: See you next time.
CB: Thanks to the patrons who helped to support the production of this episode of the podcast through our page on Patreon. Including patrons Christine Stone and Nate Craddock, as well as the Astro Gold Astrology App, available at Astrogold.io, the Portland School of Astrology at PortlandAstrology.org, the Honeycomb Collective Personal Astrological Almanacs available at Honeycomb.co.
And our recent supporters, or our new supporters this month, which are the International Society for Astrological Research, or ISAR, which is hosting an astrological conference in Denver September 10th through the 14th, 2020. And you can find out more information about that at ISAR2020.org. As well as the Northwest Astrological Conference, which is happening in Seattle, Washington May 21st through the 25th, 2020. And you can find out more information about that at Norwac.net.
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