The Astrology Podcast
Transcript of Episode 50, titled:
With Chris Brennan and Patrick Watson
Episode originally released on October 18, 2015
Note: This is a transcript of an audio podcast. We strongly encourage you to listen to the audio version, which includes inflections that may not translate well when written out. Transcripts are created by using a combination of speech recognition software and human transcribers, and the text probably contains some errors and differences from the audio version. Please submit any corrections to Chris Brennan by email at email@example.com.
Transcribed by Mary Sharon
Transcription released March 3rd, 2021
Copyright © 2016 TheAstrologyPodcast.com
CHRIS BRENNAN: Hi, my name is Chris Brennan. And you’re listening to The Astrology Podcast. Today is Sunday, October 11th 2015 just after 10:30 p.m. here in Denver, Colorado. And this is the 50th episode of the show. In this episode I’m gonna be talking with astrologer Patrick Watson about 10 problems that are unique to astrologers; some of which represent real issues regarding the perception of astrology in modern society and others that are just humorous annoyances that astrology enthusiasts have to deal with from time to time. This is based on an article that Patrick wrote on his website at patrickwatsonastrologer.com. For more information about subscribing to the podcast, please visit theastrologypodcast.com/subscribe. This podcast is made possible by listeners of the show who pledge their support through Patreon. If you enjoy the show and you’d like to support the production of future episodes, then please consider donating $1 or more through Patreon. And in return, you’ll get access to some great subscriber benefits such as access to a private discussion forum, early access to new episodes, and more. So let’s get started with the episode by welcoming my guest. Hi Patrick, welcome back to the show.
PATRICK WATSON: Thank you for having me.
CB: The genesis of this episode is that you published an article on your website recently that I think struck a chord with a lot of people in the astrological community. It was titled Top 10 Problems Astrologers Have That Are Just the Worst. And this article got like a ridiculous amount of shares and likes on Facebook. And I think part of the reason is just that it addressed or kind of raised in a humorous manner some issues that are sort of core issues that lots of astrologers share in terms of either things that are unique that we experience as a result of either this profession or this practice that we engage in or things that we experience just in terms of the perception of astrology in society. So I thought we could spend an episode talking about that article and talking about some of the points that you raised in it and just kind of expanding on some of those points in order to get more of what you were really going for there. So–
PW: I’ll be happy to do that. [laughs]
CB: –what led you to write the article or where did it come from or what was some of your motivation in doing it?
PW: It was just sort of a culmination of a lot of thoughts that I’ve had about astrology for a while, and it was kind of inspired by these BuzzFeed listicles and Cracked articles. And I’ve always thought it’d be cool if Cracked magazine did an article with an astrologer because I think there are so many kinds of peculiar issues. I have so many strange–[laughs] compared to my so-called Muggle friends, is a lot of weird issues I have. I’m fretting about birth times and things like that. It’s hard to explain to someone who doesn’t really understand why this would be important to someone, so I just thought it was kind of funny. There are funny and strange and unique problems that astrologers have. I just thought people would like to read about it. [laughs]
PW: It wasn’t really a–[laughs]
CB: Tip like research–
CB: Yeah. [laughs]
PW: Yeah, I wasn’t–
CB: Let’s talk about some of the points maybe.
CB: All right. So, yeah, let’s start from the top maybe in terms of your first sort of point of annoyance in terms of astrology.
PW: Yeah. Well, basically, one thing that has always grabbed my goat, something that has always acquired my goat is this misuse of terminology. Sometimes when I’d see people using the word conjuncting or conjuncted like using conjunct as a verb and sort of a–is conjoining is the verb to conjoin and the state of being conjunct to different things. So that has really annoyed me. And then being called an astrologist as opposed to an astrologer. You always know the level of understanding that someone has when they are talking to you especially if they’re critiquing you. They refer to you as an astrologist, and they don’t even have the requisite courtesy of referring to you in the way that you prefer to be referred to as, astrologer. So–
CB: Sure. And that comes up pretty frequently with skeptics but also sometimes with either very new astrologers that are usually possibly putting themselves out there sooner than they should be.
CB: Sometimes or just sometimes people that don’t know much about astrology but that are trying to pretend that they do, sometimes you’ll see it from there as well. Although somebody did point out to me once, I had to be careful about that sort of accusation because every once in a while you will see a reputable astrologer that just likes to call himself an astrologist just to mess with other astrologers or set themselves apart.
CB: Robert Zoller for example, somebody pointed out that he had the term astrologist on his business cards. So, nonetheless, I can say that for like 1% of the people–
PW: Right. It’s pretty uncommon. And then I also feel like in a lot of astrological writing there’s kind of an over reliance on certain terms like Energy. And, in fact, the whole language always gives you away. Sometimes the way people talk about astrology, it kind of portrays a kind of a causal framework for how it works because sometimes you’ll see people do it. And even I catch myself doing it sometimes like when you’re talking about a planet influencing things or a planet’s effects. And what we’re really talking about, in general, as long as you are holding–if you’re not subscribing to a causal framework of astrology is that you’re talking about correlations rather than effects or influences. So, yeah, I’ve tended to feel that some astrological writing tends to have an over reliance on these sort of buzz terms or buzz phrases like energy or consciousness. I’m not saying like you can never use these words or something, and I certainly don’t wanna be seen as like passing a judgement on what people wanna write about or how they wanna express themselves in writing about astrology, but still–[laughs]
CB: Sure. There are certain phrases that perhaps get used too much or get imported from other, let’s say, fields like from just the new age sort of community in general or from other words that just get used as sort of buzz phrases like you said, I think.
PW: Yes. So, terminology, it’s kind of a minor grievance. I can live with being called an astrologist, I suppose.
CB: That is one of the things that will make an astrologer’s eye twitch.
PW: Yeah. [laughs] Right. Or like in the article I’d say every time you say conjuncting, a kitten’s [unintelligible 00:07:24.07] expires, a kitten dies. [laughs]
CB: Right, changing the ancient length of life technique for kittens.
PW: Indeed. Yeah, pet astrology but like hardcore. So, yeah, that’s just sort of a minor grievance. I don’t know if everyone necessarily feels that way, but maybe people felt–It seems like I’ve got a lot of comments saying that they became kind of self-conscious after reading that.
PW: They sort of force people to kind of look at their own writing and think, “Oh dear, have I used this kind of language before?”
CB: Yeah, and I think that’s okay though. That’s part of the process, and that’s what’s funny about it, this idea of that being like the very first thing at the top of your list, the misuse and abuse of astrological terminology. Because just about every astrologer has had some term at some point in time that they’ve kind of screwed up like that. And I remember calling the asteroid kyeer-on for like two or three years before I walked into an astrology shop and said it, and the astrologer like immediately sort of winced when I said it like that and corrected me–
CB: –and called it Chiron for anybody that’s not familiar.
PW: Well, I’ve also struggled with the correct pronunciation of the planet in between Saturn and Neptune. [laughs]
CB: Yeah, yeah, yeah. Right. Right.
PW: I think both are acceptable, right?
CB: Yeah, it’s a matter of personal choice. I think a lot of people go out of their way to pronounce it differently just for the sake of not running into that issue.
PW: Uranus versus… Ur-ay-nus.
PW: Yeah, so that’s something that’s always kind of peeved. It’s been a kind of a pet peeve astrological terminology misuse and abuse. And I kind of feel like by leveling these kinds of charges that I’ve put myself open to that same scrutiny. So I guess one thing I just wanna say for anyone who feels a little self conscious about any of these things, at least these kinds of issues are being brought up by someone who isn’t hostile to astrology. Better me than Neil deGrasse Tyson. [laughs]
CB: Sure. Well, it’s a dual thing. On the one hand, it’s like the misuse or not understanding of certain things. But on the other hand, it’s kind of like a blasé use of loaded terms like energy or consciousness or what have you which is almost like a–
PW: Mercury is retrograde, it isn’t in retrograde. That’s just kind of a superfluous word to be there.
PW: Anyway, so yeah. That’s that.
CB: All right. Well, that’s a good starting point. So, number nine on your list is lame critiques of astrology which is the next sort of favorite thing that all astrologers have to sort of put up with and learn how to deal with at some point in their studies of astrology or their career as an astrologer.
PW: Yeah, and I wanna be clear though. I think that skepticism has a role to play. I think that, to improve our understanding of the world and of our craft, that we should be open to critical arguments. But I do think that not all critical or skeptical arguments are necessarily of equal merit. They aren’t always valid, and then I guess that’s just what pissed me off is that there are more sensible arguments that skeptics could bring up. But they just keep bringing up the same old ones. They really could level better arguments against astrology if they just took a little more time to actually understand it, but instead we just get the same old, same old.
CB: Right. This was one of my favorite jokes in the article that Ophiuchus truthers–
PW: Is that how you say it? [laughs] I thought it was Oph-ay-uh-chus. [laughs]
CB: I don’t know. That’s a good one. We’ve just stumbled upon one of our own pronunciation disputes. So, I’m sure we’ll hear from the audience. So that’s gonna be–
PW: Yeah, and will let us know. Let us know. [laughs]
CB: It’d be like a sect for each pronunciation thing that will–
PW: I didn’t mean to interrupt you, so what was your favorite joke? Sorry, I just had to hear.
CB: Just the idea that conflating that with the truthers or the idea that’s come up like the 9/11 conspiracy theorists–
PW: Right. Right.
CB: –who have and promote very, sometimes vigorously like different conspiracy theories about the September 11th terrorist attacks. And, yeah, that they are often very vocal about it and very sometimes aggressive about it. And you do see a similar kind of enthusiasm sometimes in terms of this, some of the notions about the 13th sign and about things related to that and how the Zodiac has changed and like people sometimes really take it upon themselves to spread the gospel of that in some sense.
PW: Right. And to me it’s just so stupid because if they just didn’t conflate the constellational zodiac with the tropical and sidereal zodiacs, they wouldn’t be making all this hullabaloo. It comes from a very basic gap in just basic like terms and basic definitions. It’s not–
CB: Well, and some of that’s almost like our fault in the sense of it’s–
CB: –one of those things that almost leads back to the terminology issues where sometimes it’s not usually astrologers cuz astrologers don’t usually get caught up in this. But sometimes you’ll see like the use of things like star signs–
CB: –as a term to refer to zodiacal signs, and that then leads back to the assumption about the western astrologers using the sidereal zodiac or using the constellations.
PW: Right. Yeah, that’s true. And there is the other downside which is that they all do have the same names, so that’s fair. [laughs]
CB: Right, the tropical zodiacal names for the signs are the same as the sidereal names for the signs.
PW: Well, and they’re named after the constellations they used to align with. Perhaps I guess the solution of that may be new names or–It’s kind of a difficult question. There’s a lot of thoughts I’m sure people have about that. But, yeah, I guess it’s hard to blame the Ophiuchus Ophiuchus or Ophiuchus [pronunciation] truthers. But it just annoys me that the argument just comes from conflating everything with everything, and there are three separate things they need to know. And if they did, then this wouldn’t be a thing. So–
CB: One last point about that is–
CB: –it’s been interesting. I’ve seen some kind of what I perceive or that seems to be almost like opportunists that have been taking advantage of that whole confusion that came up a few years ago in 2011 with the whole precession and Ophiuchus controversy, and there’s been like a couple of opportunists that have taken upon themselves to ride that wave of confusion by trying to introduce like a new form of astrology so that there’s some people out there that are saying we need to do 13-sign astrology now that includes Ophiuchus as a sign. And so, the first time I’ve ever seen this was somebody approached me with a chart the other day that had Ophiuchus in it. And it was from this specific guy who’s trying to make a name for himself in doing 13-sign astrology, so I thought that was interesting. And I was wondering if that was gonna become more of an issue and more of an unexpected sort of side issue where the skeptics originally and astronomers were using that to dispute astrology and to dismiss it. And the whole point of that whole controversy was to cast doubt onto the validity of astrology. But one of the interesting, weird sort of side effects is now there’s like a few people that are like, “That sounds like a great idea. Let’s do that, too.”
PW: Ophiuchus truthers [laughs]
CB: Right. Exactly.
PW: Oh gosh. I had not heard about that. Well, maybe, they should talk to the sidereals since there’s the nakshatras. And also I believe there’s a 13-fold division of the sky, right? The lunar mansions.
CB: Oh, that’s 27 or 28.
PW: Oh, whoops. Okay.
PW: All right, I belong somewhere on this list now.
CB: Yeah, close enough.
PW: All right. So–
CB: So the Ophiuchus truthers that’s tied in with the next one that you list under the lame critiques of astrology which is the precession preachers.
CB: Tell us about the precession preachers.
PW: So, basically precession preachers are people who think that astrologers don’t understand precession. They think that because the vernal equinox–Well, all of the solstices and equinoxes have shifted backwards through the zodiac that the Sun is no longer rising in the constellation it was originally rising in. So they think that astrologers don’t know this. The basic thing that they should know so that they wouldn’t have to be getting their panties in a twist about this is that astrologers are aware of this and that astrologers are deliberately using the tropical zodiac than early astrologers in the West. And [unintelligible 00:17:05.20]tropical astrologers are deliberately doing that. It’s not out of ignorance, it’s deliberate.
CB: Right. One of the things I pointed out during my recent episode with Sam Reynolds when we discussed this was that I’ve actually been able to trace this back, and the first time somebody that was critical of astrology used that argument about precession was actually all the way back in the third century.
CB: An old Christian church father actually used it as an argument against astrology. So skeptics have literally been using this argument for most that astrologers aren’t aware of precession for almost 2,000 years now oftentimes completely oblivious to the fact that astrologers are aware of it. You have famous astronomers like Galileo or Kepler or Ptolemy that were like deliberately using the tropical zodiac and very much aware of what precession was and what its implications were and very deliberate about what reference system they were using, and yet this argument still persists.
PW: Wow, so precession preachers are not new?
CB: Yeah, it’s not a new gospel that they’re preaching. And it’s also not a very accurate one. But it’s one of those ones that sort of appeals to, again, the public’s perception, going back to perception issues that astrology has with the public where the public might easily make that assumption that it’s based on the constellations.
PW: And that’s because they use the same names. I feel like that seems to be an issue. [laughs] The fact that we use the same names for the constellations and the tropical signs, it seems to be that maybe is the point of confusion.
CB: Sure. Was it you that suggested at one point in the past you actually came up with some different names or something for it or was that somebody else?
PW: If I did, I don’t think I could repeat them. I don’t remember them, but they’re probably the products of a 17-year-old mind if you know what I mean.
CB: Well, I will attribute that to you regardless that at some point you did come up with a brilliant new list of names for the signs of the zodiac. And at some point hopefully we’ll recover that. So, next and this is actually connected. I want just to skip to the next one because this is actually related which is the other point you made is the heliocentric town criers which are people that don’t understand that–Well, it’s actually kind of complicated. What was your main point with this one?
PW: Heliocentric town criers are people who claim that astrologers don’t understand that the solar system is heliocentric because charts are cast from the geocentric perspective. So–
PW: Again, they think that astrologers aren’t aware that the solar system is heliocentric. astrologers have known this since antiquity. [laughs] I couldn’t give you the date, this is something astrologers have known for a very very long time. The whole point of casting charts in the geocentric goes back to this because that’s where we are. I suppose if you are floating above the Sun and you are born [laughs] that’s when you would cast a heliocentric chart. It’s stupid because it comes from just a basic ignorance of what astrologers do or don’t know, and I think the weirder thing is that a much more effective argument against astrology would be to ask how you would cast a chart for someone who wasn’t born on Earth. But instead, the focus is just on just trying to cast astrologers as people who think that the Earth is the center of our solar system.
CB: Right just because we’re using the planet that we’re using as the reference point for the calculations because that’s where we live because we happen to be using that as the reference point for our chart calculations, the assumption then that astrologers don’t realize that the Sun is the center of the solar system.
PW: And I call them town criers because they think they are letting everyone know the news. They think it’s news. They are like the truthers. [laughs] They are making a big deal out of something that isn’t a big deal.
CB: Sure. And that is tied in with your next point which is the horoscope nodals.
PW: Yeah, horoscope nodals are just people who think that they know, they think that they understand all of astrology. Their one reference for astrology are horoscopes Sun sign horoscopes and that that is all astrology is. So, this is an ignorance of another level which is that they don’t even know anything else that astrologers do aside from writing Sun sign horoscopes. astrologers will readily tell you and agree that generally Sun sign horoscope is not gonna be the best way to communicate anything detailed and meaningful. It’s a commercial invention. It’s not astrologers’ preference necessarily that these are the most popular ways in which technology is consumed or experienced by the public.
CB: Sure, so they’re know-it-alls because they feel as if they know enough and they don’t need to know anything else beyond that. And that sort of rounds up this list of what you referred to as armchair skeptics.
PW: Yeah, armchair skeptics.
PW: There’s the phrase armchair philosophers, people who don’t actually have to deeply engage with the subject that they want to be deeply involved with. So I feel that, yeah, I’m making these kinds of assumptions. And having basic ignorance about the subject they are talking about makes them an armchair skeptic.
CB: Brilliant. Yeah, because that’s one of the biggest shortcomings at least as far as I’ve seen. And in following the modern skeptical community is this surprising lack of depth of familiarity that most skeptics have with the subjects that they are skeptical about because–
CB: –skepticism has become like this thing or this like ideology that you subscribe to, and you follow certain leaders within that field. And you sort of take their opinions for granted without looking into the subjects themselves more than just in passing or more than just at some superficial level. And that’s where most of these criticisms come from is where some of the most superficial, not actually valid but seemingly valid criticisms that you could make about astrology that would appeal not to anyone who knows anything about it but to people that don’t know much about it and just have certain assumptions about it based on what the public perception of astrology is. And you basically end up with this list of these four primary criticisms.
PW: And they could do better. They could do a lot better. There are some questions which I think astrologers should be trying to work on a resolve themselves before they’re ever asked by a skeptic who manages to learn enough about the subject to really ask a more complicating type of question for example whether or if the sidereal zodiac or the tropical zodiac is better at reflecting empirical realities. I think there’s a lot of ways in which the differences between the sidereal and tropical zodiac could cause interpretive differences. And if astrology is supposed to represent the world as it is, then it seems like there would be a conflict there. And so I think that’s something that eventually astrologers will have to kind of reconcile with or figure out like if the sidereal or a tropical zodiac represent a different way of looking at the world and that each one is equally valid in some way or if one actually is better at depicting reality. And I’m loathed to say that cuz I know there’s a rich tradition in India and millions of people who have no problem with the sidereal zodiac, but it’s something that we should be more prepared for maybe when skeptics learn more about astrology and wonder about that.
CB: Yeah, at some point astrologers I’m sure will have to deal with a more robust and incisive or legitimate critiques of astrology from the skeptical community. But that day is not today.
PW: That day is far away. [laughs]
CB: That day is not anywhere on the horizon so far. Yeah, so one of the issues just from my perspective also that astrologers have to deal with which is a major conceptual issue is an easy question to tropical astrologers which is, if your astrology is based on seasons and if your rulership scheme is somehow derived from or based on seasons, does that mean that the tropical zodiac should be flipped in the southern hemisphere? And if not, then what is the basis for using the vernal point as the starting point for the zodiac that’s true in both hemispheres?
CB: And that’s kind of a conceptual issue. I was talking to Austin Coppock about recently, and we were talking about doing a show on the zodiac, the different Zodiac issues, and maybe raising that point and expanding upon it a little bit. So, we’ll save that maybe for another show.
PW: All right.
CB: All right. So what’s the next point? So that’s actually just point nine in terms of lame critiques of astrology. But moving on to point eight, what was point eight?
PW: Potential clients don’t Google for astrologers. I think it might have been you, Chris. You introduced me to Google Trends. And if you type in a search term on Google Trends, it’ll tell you how often it’s searched for on Google. And that can be a reflection of general interest in a given topic. So if something really big is happening, say Shia LaBeouf getting arrested. Then you type in Shia LaBeouf and you probably see a spike at the time the news reports came out about him being arrested. And the cool thing about Google Trends is you can also compare search times, so you can judge how often something is searched versus other searches. And so I put in a few astrology related terms such as a horoscope, an astrologer and astrology and natal chart readings. And I’ve also done it with tons of other combinations as well and even searching each individual sign to see if like there’s a particular sign which searches for that horoscope more, and I do have an interesting answer on that. But you might be able to guess, but I will hold that for just a second. [laughs]
Basically, my finding is that horoscope is searched for far more than any other astrology-related term. And I think this is kind of a problem for astrologers because it reflects a perception issue or basically means that clients are not searching for astrologers with the terms that astrologers are using to describe themselves or their services unless someone is actually publishing a horoscope. So when astrologers are selling their services, say relationship chart analysis or natal chart analysis or horarys or electionals or whatever, the only people–
PW: Synastry, yeah. The only people who know those terms are people who are already familiar with the subject, and it’s gonna be difficult to sell your wares over the internet if the people who are interested in astrology and actually are looking for astrological insight, don’t know a way to find you. [laughs]
CB: Right. They’re sort of searching for the wrong thing or maybe not the wrong thing but they’re searching for certain type of that which is the more consumer not driven but the thing that’s being marketed more to consumers and more like mass market forms of astrology like searching for horoscope or zodiac rather than searching for astrologer. One of the things that you showed is that the term astrologer was incredibly low–
CB: –when the number of like the search volume compared to things like zodiac or horoscope.
PW: Yeah. And actually what’s interesting if you see the graph that I posted in that section, there’s a giant spike on all of the levels. On all these different searches for astrology-related terms, there was a big spike in January 2011. And I believe that was when the Ophiuchus controversy first came out. I think that was January 2011, so that’s the spike which was represented as a spike in searches about an article that was critical of astrology based on a faulty premise. [laughs] But, yeah, I was searching the individual signs. I was just kind of curious to see if there was like one sign that kind of stuck out. And I think it was Leo. And of course they want to know about themselves, right?
CB: Sure. So, our friend Nick Dagan Best is not listening to this episode.
PW: Yeah, but it was very slight. And there were some that weren’t quite as into looking at the horoscopes, but it was kind of more or less equal. But, yeah, Leo was the dominant one. But, yeah, that was the general point. Just so it’s kind of annoying that the people who are looking for astrological insight aren’t looking for it in the right places. Astrologers are kind of ready to provide the services, and a lot of times astrologers are looking to support themselves with astrology. And that’s just kind of a fundamental mismatch between the way they are searching and the way it’s being advertised. Well, a few–
CB: And it becomes like a feedback loop as well because then if people are using those search terms, they’re gonna end up with–Most of the time, not all the time there are respectable horoscope column writers–
PW: Mmm. Oh yeah. Absolutely.
CB: –which is just astrologers that write horoscope columns and therefore will draw in some of that traffic. But then sometimes also you end up with not very good astrology sites like astrology.com for example which is like generally not regarded as like a bastion of highly intellectual like advanced astrology things most of the time, but instead it’s more of like a website owned by a huge corporation that’s just looking to figure out how much money they can make from their domain and generally not hosting very good astrology where you have other websites like amazing websites that have really good resources and try to provide a genuine service to the astrological community like Astrodienst. But how many general consumers will just get on Google and search for Astrodienst as their primary search term, I’m guessing not very many.
PW: Right. Well, there is some good news which is that astrologers might be able to use this information. And maybe they should be thinking of more ways to cater to the search term horoscope while like cramming in everything they can–[laughs]
CB: Right. So–
PW: –around it to kind of advertise the fact that they can get a value-added service beyond–
CB: So try to think about what keywords you’re using. Perhaps you could wonder to start a podcast for example. Perhaps you could call it something like the, let’s say, astrology podcast just hypothetically if you’re trying to target certain search terms. Or if you want to write a political blog, maybe you could call it the political astrology blog perhaps.
CB: Just spitballing here.
PW: Yeah. Well, you are definitely calling it that big time.
CB: Secret’s out.
PW: So, yeah, SEO I guess is gonna be good for anyone who’s doing business online. But, yeah, just sort of kind of sucks that people who want astrology are not necessarily searching for it in the way that they could get it. Well–
CB: All right, that’s good for number eight. So, number seven. What is number seven?
PW: Highly religious people think you’re the devil.
PW: I guess I’m talking more specifically about–My main frame of reference for religious opponents of astrology have been American conservative Christians. I know that this will be really interesting to have heard–I can’t wait to hear the second part of your talk with Sam about religion and astrology cuz I know that other religious traditions have different attitudes towards it. But my main experience has been with conservative Christians who think that it’s Satan worship or something. There’s a reference in Deuteronomy to astrologers being an abomination to the Lord, and there’s a reference in Isaiah that says astrologers will be burnt like stubble. And I guess my reaction to that is that there are countless references to astrology all throughout the Bible. And there’s even a quote directly from Jesus, Luke 21:25 where he says, “There will be signs in the Sun and the Moon and the stars.” He’s talking about the end of the world or something. I forget the exact context of that passage, but it seems like a fairly clear endorsement of astrology. That’s essentially in a nutshell what we’re talking about. We’re talking about signs in the Sun and the Moon and stars. He may be talking about the wandering stars which are the planets if it’s coming from the Greek.
CB: Astrology has always had this sort of complicated relationship with Christianity where one of the things I talked about a little bit in the episode with Sam in the last episode was just that initially astrology almost seemed like it was being used in order to endorse or to validate the new religion. And you have the story of the wisemen in the Gospel of Matthew following a star having it basically lead them to the birth of the Messiah. That story has an important sort of literary role in basically confirming that somebody really important was born at that point in time because that’s what people were doing. And in the same time period you have, for example, like Roman emperors publishing their birth charts publicly because of what astrologers said about the chart being very eminent. I think it was Augustus who published his chart publicly in order to legitimize his rule over the sort of newly created or in the process of being-created empire.
PW: Hmm. The other thing I find kind of funny–This is sort of superficial, I suppose. But these people are against fortune tellers, and they put astrologers in that category. But what are prophets if not fortune tellers of a source? The prophets, revered. But fortune tellers, now they are a problem. [laughs] I just think that’s sort of a weird contradiction.
CB: Yeah. I remember I was researching cleromancy which is the casting of lots, and it was a form of divination that was used in that time period. And that’s where we get the concept of the lots or the Arabic parts in traditional astrology. And I was researching the term, and the term actually comes up in the Bible because at one point it actually has them casting. It has the apostles casting a lot in order to determine the outcome of some situation. They’re basically doing divination at that point. And then of course when you search for that, you see like 20 articles from like apologists sort of trying to explain how the apostles were not doing divination and how this was something else, sort of trying to explain it away. But you have this interest–
PW: Yeah, I know. [laughs]
CB: Yeah. [laughs] But, yeah, you have this interesting just tension between Christianity and astrology where at first it’s being used. It’s showing up sometimes occasionally like in that passage in Luke supposedly with the statement being attributed to Jesus or with the story in Matthew about the wise men. And then later on, you have this apprehension about it because primarily, as far as I can tell, the primary issue that most of the early church fathers really argued about or argued against was the idea of predetermination of fate which was associated with astrology being something that was bad or that Christians were not subject to.
PW: Right. Well, there’s also mentions in all of the Synoptic Gospels about the sky darkening at the time that Jesus was crucified which I suppose you could just point to that as kind of a literary reference to make it seem more important to this cosmic event, that there was a solar eclipse at the time Jesus was killed. And that is kind of astrological. [laughs] Yeah. If they’re fine with that, it seems like that’s another instance of astrology essentially being present. It’s just this idea that this celestial event was significant for something that was happening on Earth that’s at its essence kind of hermetic as above, so below.
CB: The point that I think Sam and I came to or at least that I came to was just if you look back in history, you’re gonna find people from just about every major religion or denomination that have at some point either used astrology and talked about it favorably or have argued against astrology. And so you can usually find like textual source to support whatever side you wanna take, but it is certainly something that astrologers uniquely sort of have to deal with and put up with which is not just arguments from skeptics and the scientific community but we also get the not great sort of arguments sometimes coming from the religious communities as well–
CB: –which is–I love this sort of twist when it comes from the religious community because it’s often not astrology doesn’t work or something like that. They’ll say, “Astrology works, but it’s just the work of the devil or evil spirits or something like–
PW: It’s evil. Evil like–
PW: Yeah, astrologers cannot catch a break. [laughs]
PW: We’re either frauds and delusional and anti science or evil and satanic. [laughs] So, yeah, it’s great.
CB: Yeah, so–
PW: So I guess it kind of moves us to the next one I guess which is that–
CB: Which is very related.
PW: Which is that astrologers tend to get lumped in with anything remotely, a cult or New Age. And that’s not necessarily too much of a problem except that astrology predates a lot of the things that it’s now associated with. It’s its own thing. The only two disciplines is really sort of connected with an antiquity or alchemy and alchemy and magic, but those are still distinct separate disciplines. Well, I had to say about that.
CB: Yeah, I had a really hard time with this actually when I first got into astrology and first started attending Kepler because the first year you’re dealing with history entirely. And in the last term like the last several months of the first year you focus on modern history from like the 19th and 20th century basically. And they focused a lot on spiritualism and the development of the New Age movement. And one of the points that we had to debate–I remember doing a debate like 10 years ago. It was probably 2004 in the spring of 2004. And the topic was, is astrology a New Age discipline? And this is like a debate topic that Nick Campion had come up with. And I got put on the team that had to argue against that. And I was actually kind of pissed off about that because I didn’t actually agree with that point. I was very into that stuff at that point, and I considered astrology to be like a New Age discipline and very much connected with all the other things sort of associated with that. And the only real angle that I had in trying to argue this case that I didn’t really wanna argue was the point that astrology predates the New Age movement and is much older and has always been sort of its own separate thing.
And while sometimes astrology gets incorporated into other fields or other disciplines or other, let’s say, occult topics like alchemy or magic or even medicine, many doctors used astrology during the Middle Ages and the Renaissance, or let’s say weather forecasting or whatever. Astrology is its own thing, sort of unto itself even though it sometimes gets imported into or applied to other fields or other topics. And eventually as I kind of like grew out of sort of being a sort of New Age-y astrologer, that argument started to have more weight to me. I started to understand it more as I studied older forms of astrology more and could see how astrology was conceptualized before it was being used by a lot of people recently in the New Age movement where they would use a lot of terms and integrating a lot of terminology into it that can only be understood within the context of the New Age movement.
CB: But if you sort of take it outside of that cultural context, then you sort of understand how it’s this thing that’s existed long before the past 100 years of the spiritualism and Theosophy and the New Age movement. And in all reality, it’s gonna exist for a long time into the future once–
CB: –the New Age movement is just some [unintelligible 00:44:30.28]
PW: Something else, right?
CB: –that was done in the 20th century where there are these people that sort of mixed together this hodgepodge of a lot of different metaphysical and other subjects–
CB: –into this sort of unique stew of sorts.
PW: Right. And one issue I kind of pointed out in the article is that one thing that comes up if you lump all these practices together is that there’s the possibility for–if you’re associating different disciplines, it’s just kind of being part of the same thing. But in some cases they have very different premises, so I kind of used the example that the implicit premise of astrology is that lives are fated to some degree because transits are predictable. They’re fixed. And I know that obviously people can have a lot of different ideas about whether we have free will or fate. But if astrology is supposed to provide any kind of reliable information, it’s more deterministic than not. There has to be some degree to which people are accepting that astrology is providing useful information because transits are fixed, because there is some element of fate at work here.
And if we’re just gonna say that it’s the same thing as magic–If you’re gonna do magic as well, well, implicit in the practice of magic or other kind of magical thinking like the law of attraction as a premise that your life is affected by your will and your intentions. And that’s kind of the opposite of astrology which is that things might be more faded. And maybe those aren’t totally irreconcilable. I’m sure there are going to be many people who may have a lot to say about that. But it seems like you’d be hard to hold these contradicting premises together as holding astrology magic to be kind of these equivalent fields because even in the three hermetic disciplines, they are considered to be separate. They’re not just the same thing. [laughs] Astrologers aren’t Harry Potter.
CB: Yeah, the biggest underlying thing in terms of the perceptions. So there’s the perception that it’s either a cult or perception that it’s a New Age thing. And one of the biggest points that I have as a response to that is just going back to this idea that astrology is neutral and that it’s like it doesn’t have a specific–There’s a lot of implications about the universe. There are certainly some big cosmological and philosophical and sort of metaphysical implications you could draw from it, but it also has some pretty strong lines as well. And people often will project a lot of different things onto astrology in terms of what their spiritual beliefs are, what their religious beliefs are or philosophical beliefs, even what their political beliefs are or what are their beliefs about culture or politics or like the economy and other stuff like that. I recently attended a lecture. Honestly, not a very good lecture by somebody that was very into not just New Age stuff but also like political conspiracies. Like he’s hardcore into David Icke and like–
PW: Oh dear.
CB: Who’s the other guy? Alex Jones and stuff like that. And he was basically filtering. Like everything he said about astrology was just being filtered through this lens of–
CB: –everything he’d ever heard from.
CB: Yeah, everything he’d ever heard from like David Icke or Alex Jones or other conspiracy theorists that you’d read about on the internet. And that was his viewpoint, and he seemed to be using astrology to justify some of his beliefs. But it wasn’t necessarily that the astrology itself was particularly like affirming of those beliefs, he was just kind of using them in tandem with it or just to sort of justify it. And I often think that that’s the case. Yeah, when astrology does get lumped in with the occult or the New Age or whatever other label that people want to apply to it, you can oftentimes just as easily point out ways in which you could give it a completely different and opposite label pretty easily. One of them that’s interesting and it’s been interesting for me recognizing this over the past year is that astrology is often practiced because of the New Age association that often gets practiced by, let’s say, in North America and the United States by liberals. But there’s actually a lot of conservative astrologers that practice astrology as well much to people’s surprise which is… I only bring that up because it’s interesting because sometimes a person can go into something like that assuming that their belief or their way of perceiving the world is the only way that you could practice this subject, where you couldn’t practice it if you didn’t hold that belief.
PW: Yeah. In some ways as a liberal, it actually comforts me in some ways that there are conservative astrologers out there because it reinforces the notion that it can be neutral, that it can be something that its validity can be recognized regardless of your political affiliation or political beliefs, that it just is.
CB: Sure, and that it’s had a long enough history that it has been practiced by virtually any
PW: Right. It transcends, yeah, politics. Definitely.
CB: Sure. So that’s a good response in some sense to that as an annoyance even though… So, despite that and despite us having that extended digression about that, that’s going to be one of the things that’s going to be annoying. Is that you will get lumped into as an astrologer and automatically classified with certain things by certain people just because of what their perception is or what the public perception of astrology is, and either occult or a New Age are two pretty common ways of classifying astrology.
CB: All right, so on to 5.
PW: So, astrological predictions are held to higher scrutiny than other predictions and it’s pretty annoying. Weatherman makes back hole on the weather field of meteorology is just fine and when a political scientist makes a bad call on election, they’re not thrown off TV, they’re not barred from publishing or anything, life goes on. If an economist doesn’t make your predictions on the state of the economy, they’re not totally disgraced. It’s not like no one studies economics anymore, [Patrick laughs] but it seems like when an astrologer makes a bad call, for some people, that’s enough. I feel like, in some ways, some skeptics like to say about astrologers that they only count the hits and they don’t count the misses while I feel like in some ways, they do the opposite where they only count the misses and one miss is it. And sometimes these experiments, [Patrick laughs] and I still use that term loosely just because of how poorly these experiments are designed. Even Neil deGrasse Tyson has talked about how if you give text of a sample horoscope that everyone will project their own personality to match it. And I feel like that’s not testing astrology, that’s not testing the astrological phenomenon, that’s testing people’s desire to see what they want to see, but that isn’t measuring anything about astrology. [Patrick laughs] But even someone like him uses that as a go to 1K or below 2K astrology, but it has nothing to do with astrology. So yeah, I feel like they only count the misses and the misses are definitely held up above any other kinds of evidence. One miss is enough for them to discredit the field entirely.
CB: Sure, whereas in other fields like economics or political science or… I’m trying to think of other fields that just involve different types of forecasting or making attempts to make prediction based on data that may or may not work because the number of variables involved and things that you can take into account and can try to anticipate in terms of the upcoming trends and where things seem to be headed versus variables and other things that you can’t take into account or can’t see and therefore, don’t get factored into your equation and just the level of emphasis that you give to a single prediction or a single attempt to make a forecast based on something. So that is definitely valid criticism. On the other hand, and just to play devil’s advocate, there’s certainly in the astrological community not a great, we do not have a great track record for using the modern empirical process in order to track predictions and then record outcomes in a very regular and strict fashion or in a controlled fashion. I don’t think that happens a lot or it happens enough despite this being a valid criticism.
PW: Yeah, I agree. Yeah, that’s definitely true. It doesn’t discredit the entire field of astrology, but I do agree that we could definitely do a better job of keeping track of our predictions and try to more empirically test certain predictive methods. There’s plenty of things to predict about. Sports would probably be a pretty good way to test out a lot of predictions, or at least concerning competitions. A lot of predictions, obviously, don’t focus on a simple thing like if someone wins or loses. The whole post range of topics that people can predict about the identity so we have quantifiable components.
CB: Sure, yeah. Using simple tests with not very many variables would probably be the best route. Whereas that’s one of probably the problems when people do start making predictions about such large scale events is that there’s often so many variables involved that, unfortunately, one of my observations is one of the things that I often cringe about when it comes to the public perception of astrology in the way that astrologers are influencing that is that oftentimes, for some reason, the types of people that are drawn to mundane astrology for some reason tend to be people that feel comfortable sometimes making very wild statements about things that are coming up in the future. And I think that can sometimes be where the astrological community gets some of that reputation, is from people making wild predictions about the economy tanking or major disasters taking place in the future or something like that. And sometimes that comes from, it’s like you have other groups outside of the astrological community that are sometimes using quasi astrological things in order to come to those conclusions like, let’s say, apocalyptic Christian sects that are predicting the end of the world or something like that. But you also get the New Agers or the 2012 thing or the Age of Aquarius people of which there’s still many in the astrological community that are searching for when is the day that the Age of Aquarius begins which it’s not that prevalent, but sometimes you will run into one of those people that’s convinced that they found the day that the Age of Aquarius begins.
So, yeah. Anyways, so that’s a valid criticism and annoyance that all astrologers are going to have to deal with. But then at the same time, it’s something also that we’re not doing as well as we could perhaps. And part of that’s due to just the Wild West nature of the field since it’s largely unregulated, lacking in standards because of the lack of universal agreement about standardized testing within the astrological community. And thus, you just get different people at different levels all over the place making different types of predictions. Anyway, so that’s point number five. So, point number four I think is one of your better ones in this list.
PW: [Patrick laughs] Everyone thinks that you have superpowers when it comes out that I practice astrology. Sometimes I’ve had people say, “Oh, tell me my future.” [Patrick laughs] I’m like, “Well, do you have your birth date, birth time, birth place? Can I go get my computer?” [Patrick laughs] It’s not an immediate thing. And I said in the article that imagine a comedian who’s asked to, “Hey, be funny!” [Patrick laughs] It doesn’t really work like that. I think astrology is something that anyone can learn. It doesn’t take a special intuitive sense. It’s not a superpower. It’s literally learning a language and translating it into the language that you speak. So, for us, it’s English. It’s interpreting. And that’s why Mercury has always been a symbol for astrology and astrologers, the interpreters of these messages from the cosmos. And now I think even a hardcore skeptic of astrology, if they were able to learn the basic fundamentals of astrology, they could be reading charts after a while. It’s not some magical power or superpower that you have. It’s a field of knowledge that anyone can learn about and get proficient. I’m not saying that it’s easy [Patrick laughs] to be an astrologer, but I am saying that it’s not like you’re a Krypton or something,
CB: Sure, it’s a technical discipline rather than some being like an inborn trait like being a psychic or something like that.
PW: Right. Yeah. And that’s a point I make which is that a psychic and an astrologer do very different things. A psychic presumably could tell you the numbers of the lottery ticket that will win you millions of dollars whereas the astrologer might just be able to tell that maybe you’ll have financial luck in a certain period. Those are pretty different things. [Patrick laughs] Astrologers are not psychics and they don’t have superpowers. It just doesn’t work like that. So, I think the perception is from people who think that astrology is well, they know the future, well, [Patrick laughs] it doesn’t really work quite like that.
CB: The presumption is that astrology is a crystal ball that allows you to literally glimpse into the future as if you’re looking at a movie of what somebody is going to be doing 20 years from now, when instead what you’re doing is you’re looking at a set of symbols and almost like graphs which give you trends and themes that will be coming up at different points in a person’s life. And from that, you’re inferring possible scenarios about potential outcomes that will take place in the future based on the number of variables that you’re able to take into account at that point in time and based on your understanding of the person’s trajectory at that point.
PW: Now, I’m not saying that necessarily a computer could replace an astrologer. I don’t know. Maybe if we had super advanced AI’s, we’ll be able to make the same connections that humans can make. I don’t know if you could make an astrology robot. [Patrick laughs] Yeah, I’m not sure if it could be quite like that. But yeah, it’s definitely not a superpower.
CB: And this is problematic because this misunderstanding or misconception by the public can often lead to mistaken assumptions about what astrologers can do and should be able to do which becomes problematic for practicing astrologers in terms of people approaching you and assuming that you can tell them certain things that are outside of your ability to do.
PW: Yeah, I’m a Libra. Tell me about me. [Patrick laughs] Go away.
CB: Well, the example you used in terms of tell me what my lucky numbers will be or even things about…. There are certain things and maybe this is arguable, but when will I meet the love of my life, for example, even that starts bordering on problematic just because while astrologer might have certain tools for identifying things like when will an important relationship happen in a person’s life and in some techniques like in zodiac releasing, sometimes you can even get as close as let’s say, maybe sometimes when will one of the most important relationships of my life take place? It’s still not quite to the level. I think everyone’s process when they start learning astrology is at first, probably I think for many people, having to go through a period of almost disappointment and readjustment once they realize how their perception how their assumptions about astrology are different from what it’s actually capable of doing and then adjusting to what it can actually do. But then once you get over that initial period, you’re left with realizing that it can still do some really amazing things and you just want to learn more about it and take it as far as it can go and push it to its limits to see just what it is actually capable of. But there’s still sometimes I think for some people because of the public perception about what it should be able to do or what astrologers do in movies or in novels or something, what it can actually do.
PW: And that’s funny. That’s the inverse of the next point in some ways. [Patrick laughs] And the point number three is the crushing burden of knowledge. That’s another problem that’s just the worst. It’s the burden of full knowledge. It’s knowing from astrology that there are things that you can’t change and it can be hard when it’s your own life that you see if you’ve always wanted to be rich and you can see clearly from your chart that that’s not really promised to you if you have malefics in your 11th second or you have poor rulers situated there, if you can see there’s financial loss in your chart, then you just have to deal with that. [Patrick laughs] And if you take it seriously that that’s what it means, then you have to deal with it. And I think it’s almost worse when it’s with someone else. If it’s someone else who has so much hope for something and you’re suddenly in the position of having to give them either first news about what their chart seems to suggest that it doesn’t necessarily support the desire that they have. I think, Chris, you told me about a client you had once who they were wondering if they were going to be in a long-term relationship again and you were looking on the zodiacal releasing from Eros and you couldn’t actually see anything coming up. Do you remember that?
CB: Well, yeah, I run into this issue pretty commonly and I think this is an issue that’s more relevant to just traditional astrologers at this point, for the most part. Modern astrologers might occasionally deal with some general outlines of this theme, but it’s really more of an issue that’s coming up with the resurgence, the revival of more predictive older forms of astrology essentially at this point that were more designed for, but also more capable of making concrete statements about a person’s life. One of the drawbacks that you run into when you start using that and you see that it works and that it’s effective, it’s often startlingly effective at how good it can be sometimes in saying certain things or giving you certain outlines about a person’s life, one of the issues that you run into both in your own chart, but also sometimes with clients is just what happens when there’s a part of the person’s chart that’s not working out very well or just looks like it’s not going to be an area of their life that’s going to go very smoothly since every person who lives is going to have some part of their life that just does not go as smoothly as other parts of their life. And that can vary two different extremes. Some people can experience extremes of great tragedy in certain parts of their life while other people might just experience that as an area of setbacks or of not feeling as fulfilled as they would like in some area or what have you. But how do you deal with that when you have what essentially constitutes for knowledge of a certain area of a person’s life when it’s bad news? And how do you deal with that with a person? And honestly, I’ve been seriously wrestling with that issue for the past 10 years but especially the past five years as I’ve been doing astrology more intensely as a practicing astrologer and seeing more and more clients. And sometimes, the only answer is just not to say anything. And that’s my current cop out when it comes to that issue is not necessarily oftentimes to talk. Yeah, because you don’t want to freak a person out. You don’t. There’s not really any good reason to freak a person out or put that on a person’s conscious. I’ve used the word conscious. [Patrick laughs] A person’s-
PW: It’s okay. It’s okay. I, the judge of appropriate astrological terminology, do hereby deem [Chris laughs] the use of the word conscious to be within bounds.
CB: Okay. That’s what we need is somebody that’s a referee for-
PW: Yeah, I just need to be that guy. [Patrick laughs] In some ways, it reminds me of the characters in The Matrix. You have a character Cypher who regretted taking the red pill because he doesn’t like life outside of The Matrix which is, he took the blue pill. And then he says ignorance is bliss. And in so many ways, I think that learning about astrology and going down that rabbit hole is taking the red pill and starting to see the world in a way when she didn’t before just as the characters in The Matrix see the world in terms of code and whereas astrologers seeing the world in terms of meaning. So, you start to see things that you wouldn’t otherwise have known and then that can be distressing [Patrick laughs] if this policy or if you thought would go well and you don’t necessarily see it happening. The other aspect of the crushing burden of knowledge is when you see other things that you’re not actually supposed to know about. So, I knew this woman who was married and she wanted me to read her chart with her husband and there were a few things I was seeing in her chart, but one of the more startling things I was thinking about was she was having Neptune opposing Venus instead of this long-term transit and I knew that the transits started a long time after they had already gotten married and a few other things in her zodiacal releasing from Eros and the ruler of the 7th and everything, it just made me realize that that transit wasn’t about her husband. [Patrick laughs] It wasn’t about her current marriage. It was about another relationship. It was about a relationship outside of her marriage and that did turn out to be the case. But she was pressing me for all this information and I didn’t really know how to say [Patrick laughs] because it was something I was not supposed to know about and I couldn’t just blurt that out in front of her husband and stuff. That would be way too real. But yeah, it’s a burden knowing these things that you’re not supposed to know about. You see certain configurations coming to pass with your friends or family and having an idea of what’s happening and just not really having a way to change it. That’s a burden of knowledge. But I’d rather know. [Patrick laughs] I’d still take the red pill. But I didn’t know if you’ve ever felt like that.
CB: Yeah, definitely, it does. The question I guess it just does knowing the potential outcome of something cheapen or lessen the experience of living in and that’s actually a process I feel like that especially predictive astrologers, but perhaps astrologers to a lesser extent in general have to learn as a life process that you wouldn’t otherwise anticipate or expect or that otherwise, normal people don’t have to deal with which is learning how to live and still enjoy things and enjoy the moment and the process even if sometimes, there’s the potential of knowing that the outcome might not be what you want or what might be ideal for you in terms of your own personal desires, in terms of the outcome of things.
PW: That leads directly into my second to last point which is one problem is that you feel like you have free will even if you’re not sure you have it. And by that, in everyday life, I think we experience freedom, we experience free choices. There are any number of innumerable number of choices we make in a given day that are extensively free, but they seem to be wrapped up in sometimes the details can influence bigger events in your life that we would say are more under the domain of astrology, but it throws in the question, how much of your life is actually faded? And then, if that’s true, how do you just live in the moment? How do you live with this very convincing real time illusion of free will even when you know at the back of your mind that it might not be so, that it might be faded instead? The only way I’ve been able to deal with that is just one, being thankful that that is how I experienced time and that the illusion is as convincing as it is. And basically, I came to the conclusion that I have to live like I have free will even if I have none. And I think I actually got that originally from Nick.
CB: Yeah, that’s something I’ve said for a while. I think I actually said in the very last episode where I was talking to Mark Jones about fate and free will. Yeah, I think one of the things I’ve observed sometimes and I’m not sure how widespread this is, but I think sometimes newer astrologers especially for the first few years of their astrological studies, will go through this obsessive phase of really obsessing over their charts and obsessing over their transits and progressions and other timing techniques. And doing that for themselves, but then also doing that for everybody around them and getting really intense into it in terms of following everything and focusing on it and sometimes being concerned about certain things that are coming up or apprehensive, other times being, looking forward to or being elated about certain transits. And it’s this really intense thing, but then sometimes at some point for I think a lot of people, there’s a cooldown phase where you’re maybe not doing that as much as you did when you first got into it. And at some point, you either realize you have to draw a line, or at least you start stepping back from it a little bit. And once you’ve done it for long enough, you realize that you don’t need to obsess about it as much as you might otherwise.
PW: Definitely. I’ve definitely experienced that. I’ve had an on and off relationship with astrology in some ways that definitely charts my experience with what you just said. Right now, I’m in a more of a jack ton phase, but I’m not nowhere near as obsessive about knowing where everything is at every moment and I’m learning to just let go and I know that I have bad trends coming up, but I know I have good ones coming too and I just don’t stress about it now. I’m just being calm regardless. I’m just going to take it for what it is. It’s what I’d have to do anyway.
CB: Yeah, exactly. And I think that ultimately there’s some level and I’ve seen this sometimes with certain older astrologers just observe in the way that like Demetra George or like Rob Hand talks about their chart or thinks about their transits or something like that. It’s funny to me if one of the greatest, it’s possible, I’m not fully sure if I’m there yet, but one of the greatest ironies and lessons of astrology ultimately ends up being that you don’t need it or that [Patrick laughs] it’s not necessary to live one’s life. That ultimately, even if you know everything about the astrology and you’re a master astrologer and you’ve achieved astrological enlightenment, you still have to live your life and everything is still largely the same in terms of having to do the same things and make the same choices and decisions and having many of the same outcomes in many instances. Yeah, it would be interesting. And I’m not fully there yet. I’m not sure if I’m fully there yet, but I’ve considered it as one of the possible final levels of astrology in terms of one’s understanding of the subject.
PW: Well, isn’t it amazing how astrology is obsessed about getting the perfect marriage chart or even trying to elect the births of their own children or electing the times they want to start a business. The people who have successful businesses have amazing business and inception charts for their businesses without astrology. Some of the best inception charts are done without astrology, [Patrick laughs] without astrological knowledge. They just happen that way. It’s ironic.
CB: Yeah. A lot of that though comes down to what is your personal philosophy of astrology. And if you’ve already adopted a more deterministic philosophy of astrology, then you’re going to contend in that direction whereas somebody that’s more freewill oriented and maybe puts more emphasis on having choices and that their choices could alter their trajectory or alter the outcome of certain things that they initiate at different points in their life would put more emphasis and would continue potentially to, I don’t want to say obsessed more, but certainly for important decisions take astrological considerations into account on an ongoing basis. So, some of that boils down to this question that came up in the last episode, I think with Mark Jones, and that was raised afterwards in discussions about that episode where one of the listeners of the show Paul Kiernan pointed out just the importance of thinking about what one’s personal philosophy is and how that affects one astrological practice. So sometimes it’s unclear how much it’s one’s philosophy dictating how they’re using the astrology or one’s experience of astrology and what they see happening in charts and see happening when they attempt to elect things or ask horary questions or what have you that actually influencing their philosophy and their philosophy being predicated on their experience with astrology. Sometimes it goes both ways or sometimes it goes more one way or another with different astrologers.
PW: I guess the only other thing I’d have to add is even if people do believe in freewill, there are things that happen that are outside of your control. And ultimately, the only way to deal with these unknown factors is stoic acceptance and living with astrology as being more of a deterministic thing makes you adopt that attitude towards a lot of things. You just have chill out. You do have to accept the good and the bad and everything in it. But that’s what people would have to do even if they believe they have free choices with some things. There are some things you just don’t have control over.
CB: Sure, yeah. And that was always the classical primary philosophical statement that every ancient astrologer said regardless of what their other philosophical background was is they all said the purpose of astrology ultimately or the primary purpose of full knowledge was to know about things ahead of time so that you could prepare yourself internally psychologically or spiritually for whatever is coming up so that you’d be not completely unfazed by it but perhaps less caught off guard and less knocked off of your chair, let’s say, regardless of whether it’s an extremely negative event or an extremely positive event, but instead you achieve this internal sense of equilibrium and the ability to handle anything,
PW: Right. I definitely, definitely feel that.
CB: And that’s also relevant even intellectual astrology because one of the things that people don’t think about, people often put this emphasis on the freewill component of electional astrology, but they fail to recognize this other element to electional astrology that’s really important which is locking in your choice and locking in your fate in some sense once you’ve initiated the action and once you’ve taken that step and made the choice that you’re agreeing to and you’re accepting certain outcomes as a result of that. And that was potentially part of the broader philosophical idea that was built into that concept in the ancient world and the Hellenistic period where the Neoplatonists had this concept of conditional fate that you had a choice to make decisions and the ability to freely make certain choices. But once you make the choice, the outcome itself is pre-determined in some sense.
PW: And that may be because there’s an inception chart of the inception chart. The time that you make the inception, the time that you decide on the time that you’re going to do something, [Patrick laughs] it also be an operative chart which is funny because then does even the movie Inception, but that’s the dream within a dream. So, it’s literally an inception of an inception, inception.
CB: Right. [Patrick laughs] Your birth itself is an inception [Patrick laughs] and that’s a chart and of itself that at least theoretically guarantees certain outcomes, but then that question of to what extent is I guess open for interpretation as well?
PW: Right. Well, that was number two. So that was number two. So, even having these existential crises that bring you to the point of insanity, even that isn’t the worst thing-
CB: And it’s funny that you didn’t end with one of those.
PW: Yeah, I didn’t actually end with that because while it’s huge, it just is this really mundane thing that is just insane.
CB: The issue of fate and free will literally pales in comparison to this basically next point.
PW: To procure birth times, I feel like that’s just the number one problem because they are the crux of all detailed astrological study. Having accurate birth times is literally the lifeblood of the study of astrology. Obviously, there’s still a lot you can do without a birth time, but to really get into the nitty gritty, you really need to have that piece of information and it’s just impossible sometimes to get a hold of and we’ve done a whole podcast [Patrick laughs] on this one topic before because it’s such a necessary piece of information but it can just be almost comically stupidly difficult to get. And there’s just no guarantees in the area of birth time acquisition. I’ve had to come up with all these weird ways of awesome people when I want to find out that birth time [Patrick laughs] with some friends where I didn’t really want to come out and tell them that I was into astrology because I wasn’t sure what they felt about it, but I really wanted that at that time. I’d sometimes broach the topic by somehow introducing the topic of parents talking about parents and so I got them talking about their parents then I could tell them the story about how my parents met in a bar and my dad went home with my mom that night and then they’re like, “Oh, that’s a crazy story.” And I’m like, “Oh yeah. So, how did your parents meet?”
CB: And they’re starting to back away from you slowly.
PW: [Patrick laughs] I’ve been able to do it smoothly. I have been able to do it smoothly, but you bring up the topic of parents, you bring up how they met, and then you steer that to how you came about and then I’ll say just in an off-handed way like, “Oh, yes, I was born on October 23th, 1987 at 1:06 a.m. and so then when they’re telling them when they were born, they say, “Oh, what day?” And I say, “Oh, what time? That’s a really important piece of information, ha-ha.” Actually, in my head I’m saying, “No, really, really, I really hope you answer this. I really want to know your birth time. If you don’t do this in the last 20 minutes, so we’ve been talking about this entirely for nothing.” And [Patrick laughs] that’s something that a crazy person does. That’s not anything a normal person does, but I’ve been reduced to this because it’s just not something that you can easily bring up. John Stewart, when he was asked by one of the members in his audience what his birth time was, obviously, some astrology enthusiasts in the audience, he acted like it was the strangest question he’s ever been asked and he’s right. That’s a weird question. What time did you exit your mother’s vagina? Well, yeah, let me just think. What was it? It’s a weird [Patrick laughs] piece of information and there just aren’t many easy ways. Because even if you ask someone, even if you go through his entire spiel to get to this point where they may willingly volunteer this information, they may not know it. They may just not know it or though as the parents. And they’ll be like, “Oh, I think they just said 8:00 a.m. or 8:00 p.m. And then it’s hard to go more specific then because if you do then if you’re like, “Well, was it am or pm?” And then they’re like, “Well, what the fuck do you want to know? [Patrick laughs] What’s it to you?” And you’re like, “Trust me, [Patrick laughs] I need to know this.” It makes you look like a crazy person and you’re just trying to find out something really, really simple.
CB: Yeah. I think it all again, it just comes back to this theme we keep coming back to of the public perception of astrology and that unfortunately, the public perception of astrology is such and it’s hard to anticipate how any individual is going to react to a question like that and the perception of astrology is such that it creates stigma surrounding it or at least it can for certain people for all of the reasons that we just listed whether a person has religious misconceptions about astrology, whether a person has skeptical or scientific preconceptions or misconceptions about astrology, whether a person only knows about Sun signs and just thinks it’s dumb or just thinks it’s something for shallow magazines or tabloids or something like that. There’s any number of reasons where outing yourself as an astrologer is something that’s socially risky. And so even though the way that this being phrased is humorous and could come off as a little creepy in some ways because you’re doing it in a subtle or a sneaky way [Patrick and Chris laugh] the reason for that is actually more of the social stigma and the potential-
PW: It’s not me, it’s the system. It’s society. Right. Yeah. And another issue-
CB: Because if astrologers had it, everybody upon first meeting just had each other birth charts, it would all be very cordial and very-
PW: Ideally, it would just be a matter of public record. If you wanted to look up, it should just be an online database or even something we had to just go in and look it up. You’d go up to the library and look something up. But I feel like if the society was aware of the reason why people wanted that information, it would probably be even more restrictive.
CB: One of the issues that’s come up recently in just the past few years with the internet, for example, it’s just privacy issues. And that is a question I think maybe we have touched upon this already before. Your listeners would be rolling their eyes because we already touched upon it, but just that question where if astrology was more open and there were more discussions about it or something like that, perhaps discussions about privacy and about if a person wants their birth data public whether that should be respected or not. I know Astro-Databank has an unwritten policy of if somebody I think asks for their birth data not to be listed that I think they recognize that whereas that’s not a rule that’s universally held in the astrological community but there’s certainly debates that could be had, the pros and cons or something like that.
PW: Yeah. Yeah, I was just going to say that it’s unfortunate that it’s been people like Donald Trump and the birther movement who’ve been advocating for these laws where presidential candidates have to give up their birth certificates and I’ve just been conflicted about it [Patrick laughs] just because that would be an absolute godsend for astrologers to have the birth certificate information readily available [Patrick laughs] just as a matter of course, but it also means supporting a unsavory nativist xenophobic movement too because it was all rooted in the suspicions about Obama’s birthplace and whatnot. So, [Patrick laughs] that’s another thing that sucks. [Patrick laughs] You have strange bedfellows when it comes to birth times, but it’s just such an important thing for astrologers to have access to that. Yeah, I think that’s definitely a number one problem because technically, having birth times more available would even be useful for skeptics because if we were really going to continue to do experiments or statistical studies like the ones that Baron Cohen did that, you’d need to have raw data. So, even for the purposes of skeptics, it would be important to have more data available to be able to validate or invalidate various astrological claims.
CB: Right. And what’s funny and ironic about that is that with skeptic themselves and when you’re trying to look at birth data for prominent skeptics, you often have to worry about whether the data that’s given is correct because [Patrick laughs] like James Randi has said I think in the past that he’s put out false birth times to astrologers when they asked him as a test so that if anybody ever gets the correct one or somehow figures it out, he’ll know they figured it out somehow else or it’s a test. So, this has come up recently with a couple other skeptics and one prominent astrologer skeptic from I think the 1970s and ‘80s actually did deliberately give astrologers false times for years until somebody got a hold of his birth certificate and found out that the actual time of birth was completely different than what he’s been giving out.
PW: Yeah, it’s annoying. It’s like telling a wrestler or something they can only fight with one hand. [Patrick laughs] It’s not very fair. That piece of information is just something you’d need. It would be like giving students a really crazily difficult math problem and then not allowing them to use a calculator or something for it. This is just something we need. It’s just something we need. [Patrick laughs] And it’s just somehow an impossible mission to get a hold unless you are lucky and the person was born in a place where it is available, and that is a small number of places but that’s just what it is. Those are the top 10 problems astrologers have that adjust the West in my estimation.
CB: All right. Well, I think many people would agree with you and like I said, I think this struck a chord with a lot of astrologers just because of the shared experience of what it’s like to do this crazy thing that so many of us are into and what weird side issues come up that you would never anticipate when you’re first getting into it. But that’s suddenly become [Patrick laughs] major weird annoying life issues that [Patrick laughs] you’re up at 3:00 in the morning thinking about what is Donald Trump’s birth time [Chris and Patrick laugh] or something like that.
PW: How else can I innocently convince people into willingly giving up their birth time information? This is what we’ve been reduced to if this is- [Patrick laughs]
CB: This is what astrology turns you into. This is like a warning to the kids say it should be like an advertising campaign. Someday it’ll be, “Astrology: not even once” [Patrick laughs] and they’ll just be pictures of you scrounging through birth records, [Patrick laughs] shriveled up and hunched over them. [Patrick laughs] And the final point is just the public perception of astrology. I think that’s one of the big issues that comes up. Some of these were just annoying things in general, but some of it, it seemed with at least half of them were how the public perceives and misperceives astrology as being one of the biggest hassles and downsides of having this as something that you’re passionate about or that you pursue in your life.
PW: Definitely, definitely.
CB: All right. Well, I think that does it for this show then. So, you’re doing consultations now and that’s something that you’ve really been doing a lot more of for the past while, right?
PW: Yeah, yeah, I am available for native consultations and horary questions. And yeah, you can find more information about that on my site www.patrickwatsonastrologer.com and you should also like my Facebook page. I will sometimes post little nuggets there as well as on my Twitter @pwatsonastro. I have a new article coming out this week called 10 Times Astrology Was So Literal You Couldn’t Even, so I hope you enjoy that. It’ll either have just come out by the time you hear this or it will be about to.
CB: Excellent. Well, yeah, I would definitely recommend everybody check out your website @patrickwatsonastrologer.com and thanks for joining me tonight.
PW: Oh, it was a pleasure.
CB: All right. Well, thanks everyone for listening, and we’ll see you next time.