The Astrology Podcast
Transcript of Episode 72, titled:
Astrological Training, Certification, and Credentials
With Chris Brennan and guest Anne Ortelee
Episode originally released on April, 25, 2016
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 Andrea Johnson
Transcription released September 15, 2022
Copyright © 2022 TheAstrologyPodcast.com
CHRIS BRENNAN: Hi, my name is Chris Brennan, and you’re listening to The Astrology Podcast. This episode was recorded on Thursday, April 21, 2016, starting at 11:37 AM in Denver, Colorado, and this is Episode 72 of the show. For more information about how to subscribe to the podcast and help support the production of future episodes by becoming a patron, please visit TheAstrologyPodcast.com/subscribe.
My guest today is Anne Ortelee who is the host of the Anne Ortelee Weekly Weather Astrology podcast on Blog Talk Radio. You can find out more information about her work on her website at AnneOrtelee.com. Our original topic when we started recording this episode today was supposed to be on how to build a successful astrological practice. But we ended up deciding to focus on one of the early discussion points related to the pros and cons of getting certification and credentials within the astrological community. This felt like a topic that was worth exploring in more depth, so we ended up making that the main focus about 30 minutes into the interview. So with those prefatory remarks out of the way, let’s get started by welcoming my guest. Anne, welcome to the show.
ANNE ORTELEE: Hi, Chris. Nice to be here. Thank you for asking me.
CB: Yeah. You’re one of the most popular podcasters that I’m aware of. A lot of people that I know listen to your weekly show, so I’ve been wanting to have you on for a while now.
AO: Oh, thank you. Well, I have a lot of fun with it. You know, astrology is a helpful tool.
CB: I have seen some of the work that you’ve been doing with OPA, the Organization for Professional Astrology, and you recently participated in their I-Astrologer Conference. And I’ve always been really impressed by how you set up and structured your astrological practice because you actually came from the business world. And it seems like you’ve taken some of those skills and you’ve used them in order to help build your professional astrology practice, right?
AO: Yeah, that’s true. I had a background in corporate America, working in sales and in programming—computer programming—for Control Data and AIG and a number of big insurance companies. And then for about nine years, I had my own computer consulting business and then went back into corporate and then decided to become an astrologer. So I kind of went back into corporate for the Year 2K conversions working for Pepsi and then went out on my own as an astrologer. So I’ve kind of been in and out of corporate, and I did definitely take the corporate skills and apply them.
And a lot of people say that I’m not like ‘woo-woo’. Well, I’m a Virgo. So I’m very Virgo. And I also had started to run my own business for nine years in programming and consulting people about computer services. So I took a lot of the stuff from that and then just applied it to astrology when I was starting my astrology practice. So the practice got up and running pretty quickly because I’d kind of already gone through it once before with the computer consulting business.
CB: Sure. And that makes sense. And I think that’s a great set of skills to bring to the table just because a lot of astrologers are very, you know, focused on doing astrology and pursuing it ‘cause it’s something they love or that they’re passionate about. But when it comes to actually, you know, sometimes taking that step of transitioning from doing it as a hobby or doing it as a side thing to making it their primary work or even a secondary job, a lot of astrologers are very uncertain about how to proceed and have a lot of either questions or sometimes trepidation about, you know, turning it into a business and treating it in that way, and figure out what’s appropriate vs. what’s not or what steps you should take, and so on and so forth. So I thought you’d be a great person to talk to about this topic. Let’s see. So I guess you mentioned a little bit of your background. How long have you been a full-time, practicing astrologer?
AO: I started studying astrology in ‘94, in September of ‘94, and then I had my first client in the spring of ‘95. And, you know, it was friends, it wasn’t anybody. But I actually got my first $75 in the Spring of ‘95. And then I read clients kind of intermittently while I was doing my computer business. And then in September of 2001, my office was two blocks from 9/11, and my birthday happens to be September 11. So I was like, “You know, what do you do? You can go to work and die or go be an astrologer. You know you want to do that.” ‘Cause I was kind of hesitant doing the corporate and the astrology, and that was when I went full-time in the fall of 2001. And so, I’d basically practiced seven years—if you do ‘94 to 2001—and then in 2001 full-time. So now it’s been, I guess, 15 years, 16 years, full-time.
And I had a vision of what I needed, you know. I knew how much money I needed to make. I needed to do five readings a week to pay my monthly bills. Very bare living. And, you know, I was reading like 10 people a week, so that was okay. And I think it’s important when you’re making that transition from corporate blanket to full-time—transitioning to be an astrologer—is you don’t quit your day job, you know. ‘Cause if you’re trying to worry about money when you’re building your practice, it gets you nervous. I mean, obviously, if you retire and then do it that’s fine; you know, if your plan is the ‘retirement’ astrologer. But if you’re regular, you know, keep the day gig until the night gig pays, or till the astrology gig pays.
And a lot of times there’s a difference between the 10th house work and 6th house work. The 6th house work is the work you use to pay your bills. The 10th house work is your vocation or your calling. So you want to kind of say, “Okay, my calling is to an astrologer,” and what will happen is the universe will give you. As you get out there and dedicate to it, you know, you get to practice. And I know when I first started my computer business, a lot of the stuff I said to myself back then or people said to me I applied to the astrology piece, which was, you know, when you fully commit to something, the universe really supports it. At the same time, fully commit so that you’re not keeping yourself awake at night. So that you can sleep well at night and you’re sure that this is your path.
And I had kind of known I wanted to be an astrologer, but I was back-and-forth in terms of the timing. And, you know, you get used to making a really good paycheck. And now I’m gonna go down to, you know, five readings a week or more and live on that, but then, of course, you’re dedicating. The other thing is, generally, you’re not gonna read 40 hours a week. You can’t do that. Generally, consultants—which is what we are as astrologers…
AO: …can read maybe 26 hours a week, and the other hours are spent on admin and mailing out the readings and marketing and doing all the other stuff. And so, you know, you want to have a realistic approach to how much money, how many clients you actually have, and how much you can actually do as an astrologer doing it as readings. And astrologers often mix their business. They make it from reading and from consulting or from parties or from whatever. So you kind of want to look at what your business blend is and really think of it as, “If I’m going to do this, what do I want to do?” There’s a good book I recommend to my students called The E-Myth by Michael Gerber. G-E-R-B-E-R. And he talks a lot about, okay, you want to start a business ‘cause you’re good at baking pies, and you’re gonna start a pie-baking business, which is great. But then there’s all this other stuff you have to do to make it be a business…
AO: …as opposed to a hobby that you’re making some money on. And I think there’s all different kinds of astrologers, and I think really what’s important is when you make astrology your work, it really does shift your relationship to it. So you have to have a sense of, “Yeah, that’s my mission in life. That’s what I really want to do. I have a vision for how I want to bring astrology to the world.” And when you have that vision combined with technical skills, I think the doors open very quickly.
CB: Definitely. So that raised two really great points. One is that this is sort of a long-term process, that this is not something that happens quickly. But it’s more of a long-term, gradual process that sort of takes place over a number of years as you’re learning astrology and growing into it and starting to develop your practice, that for most people at least it’s not something that happens sort of overnight. And then the other point is that just diversifying. Most astrologers don’t just make their living from one specific thing, like doing consultations, but they’ll also teach classes or give lectures or sell, you know, recordings of some sort and different things like that. So there’s a number of different things—so many hats that you have to wear and learn how to at least do well with or even excel at in order to succeed.
But maybe before we even get to that point, maybe we should talk about some of the necessary prerequisites in terms of getting the necessary training if you’re still an amateur astrologer or a student of astrology—before you’re fully making that transition—or as you lead up to it ‘cause there’s a few different pieces to that. One is self-study and the study of astrology that everybody does sort of on their own, the other is potentially taking classes or learning from somebody else that can guide you either in astrology in general or towards a specific area. And then, finally, there’s a third, which I know that you’ve been really focused on, which is the process of certification and getting some sort of certification as an astrologer or having some level of competency in astrology from either a school or from a professional organization. And it seems like you did a little bit of all three of those in your path, right?
AO: Right. Totally. And I like to point out that astrology is a Saturnian profession. It’s about time. And while there are definitely Uranian and Neptunian and Plutonian astrologers, before those guys were all discovered Saturn was the guy who ruled astrology. So I think, you know, there’s an element to it of comfort in credentialing and in recognition of time studied and time served. And if we look at our larger cycles—if, you know, your path is to be an astrologer full-time—your Saturn will play a very large role in making that manifest, and so, I like that. And then, of course, Saturn says, “Well, who are you? How do you measure up? What is your recognition?” It used to be—go back in our history, and you know this much better than I do ‘cause you have the whole background in the history of astrology—but it used to be, you know, that the knowledge was kept secret and it wasn’t available. You couldn’t buy an ephemeris. You couldn’t go to the computer and pull up a chart and look up what the Moon in the 2nd house means on the internet, and then hang a shingle and say you’re an astrologer.
AO: It was dedicated work. You had to be able to do the math to calculate the charts manually, and the information was kept secret.
AO: And now, anybody can hang a shingle and say they’re an astrologer. And I’m sure you run into it where, you know, somebody comes and says, “I was told by this astrologer that I have no planets in the 5th house and I’ll never have children.”
AO: And I always say to my students, “If I hear any of you say that, I’m gonna disown you as my student.”
AO: Because no planets in a house doesn’t mean nothing happens in the house.
AO: But a lot of that kind of ‘bad’ astrology’s out there now because anybody with a computer and the internet can say they’re an astrologer. And so, I, with my students, am like the way you know what you’re doing is you’re recognized by your peers. And that can come in many ways. You don’t have to be certified. But when your peers recognize you as knowledgeable, as a leader—or you can go to an astrology organization and say, “Hey, I want to see how I measure up with other astrologers. Test me in my knowledge.”
And all of the major astrology organizations offer certification. It started with AFA, the American Federation for Astrologers, formed in the 1930s. And they have a very rigorous certification exam. Then NCGR started offering certification and they have a four-level exam process. And then ISAR, which is the International Society for Astrological Research, has a three-level process. And then OPA just started recently and they have a three-level process. So I’m certified by all the organizations. I’m a Virgo, though. I like certifications.
CB: You got all of the certifications.
AO: I got all of the certifications. I’m in the process with OPA. I’ve got one more step to do. But I also encourage my students, you know, if you’re math-phobic, with NCGR you have to calculate the charts manually, as you do with AFA. But ISAR allows you—as long as you know how to do the math. So for the Neptunian and Uranian astrologers who really have a little trouble with math, I send them to the ISAR certification program. For the ‘mathies’, I send them to either AFA or to NCGR.
CB: Okay. So there’s different programs that sort of emphasize or specialize in certain things?
AO: Yeah. Well, they specialize if you have to calculate the chart manually.
AO: ‘Cause a lot of people have no idea how to calculate a chart manually. They just press button F4 and they get their solar return. You know, they don’t know how to do it. So those two organizations request you to be able to calculate a chart like the old guys did. And then ISAR just says, “How deep is your knowledge?” So you don’t have to actually manually calculate a chart for their exam, for their certification.
CB: Sure. And there’s some debate. I mean, I’ve seen people debate the pros and cons of knowing how to calculate a chart and understanding the astronomy of what you’re doing and everything else vs. that not being necessary. For all intents and purposes, most of the time, you’re not going to be calculating charts by hand, and therefore, it’s more the interpretive aspect that’s more important. Where do you come down on that? Do you have a preference, or does it depend on the person?
AO: Well, I know I have a number of friends who are very good astrologers who are math-phobic. So I don’t want to say to them, “You can’t be certified ‘cause you can’t do the math.”
AO: But I do believe they can seek certification in other places. In terms of being able to do the math, I do happen to think it’s important because it gives you a very different understanding of the chart…
AO: …because you manually construct it and you really learn how it works. And that isn’t necessarily taught to you. A lot of the classes that people teach are very much about, “When your Moon’s in the 2nd, your Mar’s is here.” “But what is the difference between a day and a night birth? Why would it matter?” “Who’s the guy in charge of the day and the night?” And you, as a Hellenistic and working with the ancient stuff, you understand they really paid attention to the timing of the day when things happened…
AO: …as part of the component of really being important to how the chart manifests. I happen to believe the one with the math is really important, but I also have students that simply can’t do the math but they’re good astrologers, and I would like them to be recognized by their peers as a good astrologer. And there’s an excellent article on John Marchesella’s website on why certify, and he talks about the difference that happens when you’ve certified. You know, when you’ve actually sat and said to your peers, “Evaluate me.” You know, “Look at my performance and tell me.” And as a kid, my Dad was a physician, and I remember when he went to sit for his boards in neurology and it was a big deal. He went to Chicago and he sat for a test. You know, was he gonna get his board certification? And I would never go to a non-board certified doctor.
AO: Why would I go to a non-certified astrologer? That’s not to say that the people that aren’t certified aren’t good readers, but you also know that they’ve tested their knowledge. So to the point of calculating/not calculating, take the ISAR certification then. Show me that you know what you’re doing before I let you mess around with my head. When I first started reading, John Marchesella—who’s a very Capricorn/Aquarius astrologer—said to me, “You’re practicing brain surgery on people’s heads. You have to be aware of what you’re doing.” And I was like, “Right. Got it.” And I think we forget the import and the power of astrology and the power of an astrologer when they say something to someone like, “Oh, you have no planets in your 5th house. You’re not gonna have any children.”
I mean, I’ve done astrology ‘rehab’—that’s what I call it—on really good, famous astrologers who’ve said to someone, “You have Uranus in the 7th. You’ll never marry.” And they’ve called me, hysterically crying, and I’m like, “Well, one, you’ve been married three times, but, you know, you married. Two, you have unusual collections of people.” You know, she lives in a tribe. And, you know, Uranus can show up in many ways. And then I say, “You know, Ken Negas and Joan Negas both had Uranus in the 7th and they were married for many, many years.” So it doesn’t ban marriage. You have to marry a Uranian, right? And stuff like that happens. And this was an eminent, eminent—you know his name, you’ve got his books in your library—was just blown away by that.
And I think the purpose of each of the astrology certification offerings is to say let’s talk about what you’re gonna do to your clients. Let’s make you aware of the impact and have an understanding of what it is. You know, what role you play as this person who interprets the stars, who says to the client, “Hey, this says your life’s gonna suck forever.” That’s devastating information, and people do that kind of stuff. So you have to teach them how to work with their chart.
AO: You have to teach them how to work with the energy that they incarnated in. And taking away hope is, I think, one the worst things you can do or is damaging. And people come to us with their Saturn’s exposed, you know. We know their weaknesses. We can look at their chart and see. You know exactly what to say to someone if you want to rip their soul out. But I’m a firm believer we don’t want any ‘dementors’ in astrology. No soul-sucking, please.
CB: Right. That’s like the physicians’ ‘do no harm’. I guess the astrologers’ is ‘do no soul-sucking’.
AO: Do no soul-sucking. And of course Hippocrates was, you know, one of the first physicians and he was an astrologer.
CB: True. Yeah, and we were talking about that in the previous episode, in Episode 71, with Lee Lehman on medical astrology yesterday. So you raised an important point as well, which is that all of the major organizations have adopted ethical codes and often have some ethical training modules as part of their certification. That’s something that you might not otherwise get or be exposed to if you’re just self-taught. Some of the organizations will actually, you know, outline specifically what’s appropriate and what’s not appropriate within the context of doing consultations. And some of that stuff can be pretty important for some of the reasons that you mentioned.
AO: Mm-hmm. Totally. Yeah. And I think that kind of awareness is helpful, and I think also you’re aligning with a group of people. Whatever organization you’re interested in being certified by, or all of them, you’re aligning with people that believe in the professional practice of astrology, which is I think important if you want to be a professional in the astrology field. It just says I may not hang out with them and have a beer with them, but they recognize me as being competent, and I recognize they’re a bunch of competent astrologers that have said, “Come and show us your competency.” And then, thereafter, we get to do what we want. ‘Cause it’s a very largely unregulated field.
But I do believe as we go into the age of Uranus—the Age of Aquarius—with the electro waves now banding the world, we can watch, you know, traffic accidents in Tokyo or rush hour in Ecuador. Pisces is gone. The oceans no longer separate us. But as we move into the Aquarian age, there’s this very vast ability to reach people around the world that allows us to really be aware of the impact, you know. And we’ve all seen with things going viral a recognition of the impact things can have in a heartbeat. And I think as we enter Aquarius, which is also co-ruled by Saturn—back to our traditional rulers—we are now entering an age that Saturn’s gonna play a role. And so, competency and saying, you know, this is my credentialing, this is what I can do, this is who I trained with—‘cause sometimes it’s that—it’s like a benchmark, a test.
And I know when I first started studying astrology, I didn’t think, “Oh, I’m gonna be an astrologer.” I was like, “Well, I’ve studied for a year. Oh, there’s a level one. I guess I should take the level one test to see how much I know.” And that’s how I started it. And then when I became interested in becoming an astrologer, I looked around at the astrologers who I really admired…
AO: …and noticed what credentialing they had. I wanted to be like them ‘when I grew up’, and then I pursued those certifications.
CB: Sure. But then, at the same time, you also did a lot of self-study with individual astrologers or individual practitioners that taught different types of astrology. So it seems like a lot of the actual instruction or learning the mechanics and interpretive stuff of astrology really came from that, whereas the orgs are primarily just certifying competency. You’re not learning the majority of your tradecraft from them, right?
AO: No. Didn’t learn it from them at all. I mean, I learned from certified astrologers, but they taught different things, yeah.
AO: So my basic was two-and-a-half years with John Marchesella in New York. And he’s a Capricorn/Taurus Midheaven, practical, predictive astrologer.
AO: And I’m still studying with Eileen McCabe who’s a Sagittarius, kind of a spiritual astrologer and visionary. You know, karma, but not like ‘mean’ karma, for lack of a better word. Judi Vitale—I studied Uranian with. Ken Kimball—who is an astrologer in New York, a math-techie guy—I did all my techie stuff with. So I did my tertiary progressions, my prenatal eclipses, all that stuff. All my math and stuff for the NCGR test with Ken. And then I studied Vedic astrology for seven years with Ronnie Dreyer. So I kind of went like, “What am I interested in? And what do I want to know more about?” And then I studied mythic astrology with Wendy Ashley, kind of on and off over the years. You know, as I ran into something, I would say, “Gee, I want to learn this,” and then go pursue it.
And when I started in ‘94, there wasn’t an ‘internet’ for all of us. Now there’s stuff. My students come in, “Oh, I took a horary class online with Alphee Lavoie.” I’m like, “Oh, wow. That’s cool. I didn’t know Alphee had a course on horary. I should take that.” There’s now much more resources out there that you can actually tap in and study horary with Deborah Houlding or, you know, with you with the Hellenistic stuff. You can find teachers around the world that you can connect with and study with. So my education was based on competent professionals in that area or that logistical area.
AO: New York happens to have a lot of astrologers. So most of them were locally-based.
CB: Okay. So that might be an important distinction. You know, oftentimes, your training and actual learning of the competency and the techniques of astrology will come from either schools or from individuals, but sometimes the certification will be done separately. Although there’s a little bit of gray area even there at this point ‘cause now we’re starting to have a lot of individual astrologers that are setting up their own apprentice programs that are offering some sort of certification that you have some competency in that specific type of astrology or what have you.
AO: Right. Yeah, you’re certified as a horary by Deborah Houlding or Alphee. You’re certified in whatever. So I think there’s a place for that, certainly. I think the first one to do it was the guy who did astrocartography. Drawing a blank on his name.
CB: Oh, yeah, Jim Lewis.
AO: Jim Lewis. He was the first one that offered a separate certification. ‘Cause when I was coming up, that was the one that was specialized, but now, you can get it in different categories. And I think that’s all valid and I think that counts. You know, in the ISAR certification, you have to have electives. So you’d say, well, I’ve studied Hellenistic, and I’ve studied Vedic, and I’ve studied whatever—medical astrology. And certainly, if you’re drawn to a category, I think that’s a really important component to follow.
AO: Say I want to be a medical astrologer. Okay, I’m gonna find a medical astrologer and study with them.
CB: Yeah, so that makes sense in terms of certification and some of the rationales for it. I guess maybe I should present the other side as well. You know, sometimes you’ll see a great astrologer or somebody that’s relatively well-known or does pretty good astrology that never went that route or doesn’t have that sort of certification, so it’s not always a necessity. By the same token, there may be astrologers that aren’t so good or might say some of the things that you shouldn’t say or not supposed to say to a client that do have certification. And so, it doesn’t necessarily always guarantee that you’re seeing, you know, somebody that’s really great at what they do. But certainly, in a field that’s as unstandardized or lacking in standardization and lacking in regulation to some extent as well, it is one of those things that you can take into account as a consideration for, you know, when you’re seeing a professional astrologer.
AO: Right. Well, you know, I guess I would say that is also a consideration when you’re one of those people that says, “I don’t believe in certification.” I would say, “Would you go to an unlicensed bar? Lawyer? Would you go to an unlicensed doctor? What’s your posture on licensing?” And they may just be very Uranian and say, “Well, I don’t believe in any of that.” I’ll be like, “Okay. That’s totally cool.” But that’s a position the educated consumer is not. You know, they don’t know who you are. They don’t know what your educational background is. A lot of times people, when they come for astrology rehab, when we get to it in the reading, I go, “Well, are they certified?” And they go, “I don’t know. What do you mean?” I say, “Well, there’s certification. Are they certified? Who are they?” Sometimes they don’t want to say who it was. And if I know them, I kind of go, “Oh, well, that makes sense,” and I don’t make that comment to the client.
AO: But I also am aware of who’s good and who’s not so good.
AO: You know, what I think will happen down the road is there will be some kind of process that will take place. ‘Cause eventually all these things get regulated, and we are entering into Pluto in Capricorn, and then Pluto into Aquarius. So all the New Age stuff gets attacked when we get Pluto into Aquarius. So I’m kind of like, yeah, don’t be certified, but don’t be surprised if down the road they’re gonna say, “Well, what’s your credentialing?”
AO: You know, it is a brave new world. We are exposed to this stuff. But what is your ambivalence about certification? And I do know a lot of the people that are ardently anti-certification have taken one or two of the tests and failed and that’s why they’re against it. So I would say, “Did you ever sit for a test?”
AO: I have an Aquarius rising, so I tend to be provocative. “Oh, you flunked. Okay, so that’s why you’re against certification. Go sit again. It’s okay.” But yeah, it’s one of those areas. You know, I broke my foot a couple of years ago, so I had a list of what I was looking for in a physician and I knew what I wanted. I wanted board-certified, I wanted, you know, the best guy that could operate on my foot, and found a guy. And he ended up not taking any insurance, so I wrote a check for 15 grand because I wanted my foot fixed by somebody who knew what they were doing. At the same time, he’s board-certified, top in the field, famous around the country for that kind of surgery.
You know, I think it’s really what your values are and where they fall. And, you know, if you don’t believe in it, that’s okay, but I think that’s a posture you’re taking against the organizations that support it. And I will go back to, you know, individuals offering certification in their own craft. I think that’s good, but I also don’t think it’s like a full-bodied test like you’d go through when you do an organizational test, like AFA, NCGR, or ISAR, ‘cause they test you on all the different model types. Not a lot, but you have to be broadly-trained. So it’s a broadly-trained thing rather than just specializing in one particular branch of astrology. And there’s something with a group consensus.
AO: You know, as a Uranian, I kind of go, “Nah.” But then there’s another part of me that goes, “But yeah, the group has said you’re good,” as opposed to one teacher that you studied with and you paid money to who said you’re good.
AO: ‘Cause people have asked me why don’t I offer an apprentice program. And I said it’s a lot of work, and I have to keep track of who and what. You know, if somebody took one class from me, I don’t want them going and saying, “I study with Anne Ortelee.” I had one woman post on her website that she studied extensively with me.
AO: And she wrote me a check that bounced and she took the whole lesson. And she told me I should train her for free because, you know, that was how I should pay back the world. And I kind of went, “No, I do what I want to do for free, and you bounced your check. But on your website, you studied extensively with me?” and that kind of thing. So people saying to me, “Oh, give me an apprenticeship,” I’m like, no, I don’t want that responsibility to say, “Yes, you’re mine. Go do things.” I want the other organizations to say you’re good.
AO: That makes sense?
CB: Yeah, I think that makes sense.
AO: That’s my Virgo ‘Wimpy’. No, no, you go test with other people and they say you’re good vs. me saying you’re good.
AO: ‘Cause I’m biased, you know. You don’t need me to give you a certification. You know, I have a vested interest in passing you, ‘cause otherwise you’re not gonna take classes from me anymore.
CB: Right. All right, well, let’s just ride with this discussion and turn this into a full discussion on certification ‘cause this is actually really interesting and I’ve not had this discussion before on the podcast. Do you feel okay about doing that?
AO: Totally. I’m up for whatever. It’s a void Moon, Chris. We’re having fun.
CB: I know. We’ve got crazy background noises coming from both of us, and it’s kind of wild, but I’m enjoying it.
AO: I live near a hospital, so you’re gonna have sirens. That’s part of the deal.
CB: No, I love it. It’s like the sounds of New York in your backyard. Okay, so that sort of made me think of a few different things—‘cause I want to just keep playing devil’s advocate for the sake of the discussion. That’s true that sometimes the certification will give you a slightly broader, you know, reference or a slightly broader testing than you might have otherwise. But then at the same time, from what I’ve seen at least, a lot of the tests tend to be somewhat narrow in terms of the types of astrology that you have to know in order to pass it, or in terms of what they think is acceptable of what their standard of astrology is. And sometimes it seems like that’s a little problematic because of the diversity of the field and because of the difficulty of creating a test that could be truly comprehensive in terms of covering, you know, all of the different bases.
You know, sometimes that almost seems like where the apprenticeship or the individual certification programs come in just because if you want to specialize in a certain type of astrology—like let’s say, Vedic astrology or Uranian astrology or something like that—then, you know, going and trying to get a mainstream certification from one of the orgs may not work for you. The way you conceptualize or practice astrology may be very different than what they’re trying to test for. Would you think that’s a valid criticism, at least at this point in time?
AO: Well, Vedic astrology does have certifications. ACVA certifies. There’s a couple of certification programs both domestic and Indian that are offered by bodies, certifying bodies. Uranian, not so much. A small body of people practicing it.
AO: But Uranian is tested for in both ISAR and NCGR. Not sure if it’s tested for in the AFA exam. ISAR—it’s part of the body of the test. Obviously, you can skip that section or not answer those questions. And NCGR—it’s in the level three. So you do have to be able to work a dial, know midpoints, know planetary pictures, know the trans-Neptunians and do basic stuff. So when I took the level three in NCGR, I did enough to pass the test. And then I was like, “I didn’t really understand it.” I mean, I could do it, but I didn’t get it. You know, there’s like being able to ‘pass the test’ energy vs. really getting it in-depth.
AO: And so, I organized a class and asked Judi Vitale to teach it. So she ran a class for a while, and then I took privates with her on Uranian. So I gathered a group together that she taught in her home when she lived in New York. So the Uranian was a component of level three and it was a component of the ISAR test. And I don’t remember if it’s on the AFA test or not. I’ve done two levels of the AFA. So Vedic, you can get certified. The other stuff, you know, some of the schools actually have cross-certifications. I think you went to Kepler, if memory serves me.
AO: Kepler counted as two levels of the NCGR test. You know, by graduating from there, I believe you were level two automatically. And there’s some schools that ISAR has certified, and those students come out, you know, having a level of knowledge with them. NCGR has trouble with giving schools credentialing, but they’ve recently started offering education on their site. So it’s an interesting mix. And I think the answer would be, yes, basic astrology—what does the Moon do, what does the Sun do—that’s level one in NCGR.
AO: Basic predictive techniques, adjusted calculation date, you know, solar returns, secondary progressions—that and the first stuff is the first part of the AFA exam. AFA tests level one and level two of NCGR. And level two NCGR is doing predictive. So I think those are pretty basic things that most people need to know. You need to know what Mercury’s doing. If you’re doing a horary chart or you’re doing Uranian, you’re gonna need to know at least level one and level two, or the first level of AFA. ISAR sets itself out as being, you know, “You’ve been studying astrology for 10 years. Don’t call us until you’ve been doing it for 10 years, and then we can talk to you.”
CB: Oh, really? That’s a minimum for ISAR?
AO: Minimum for ISAR. And then you have to have done three electives. So you’ve basically done enough astrology to be interested in basic, and then you’ve found a calling and you’ve gone off and studied a clump. And you list what you’ve studied and who you’ve studied with. So in that capacity—like sitting for Alphee Lavoie’s class—I did a geographic location conference where it was all geodetic. And astrocartography—that counted. You know, you would have different credentialings that you’ve applied. These are the electives I’ve studied in-depth. So ISAR is 10 years before they want you to take the test.
Now I encourage my students to take the test when they’re pretty close to passing just to see what it’s like, so that they know what they have to know with the ISAR one. With the NCGR, I’ll say to them, “You’re all able to take level one NCGR if you just learn the math.” I’ll let them know what they’re eligible for. And then AFA—because it’s West Coast and they offer it out west, I’ve not had any students sit for the AFA certification, although I’m certified at the professional level. So I’ve done two tests of theirs.
CB: I mean, one of the things, then, that comes up is there are so many different certifications and sometimes they can focus on different things or they were designed by different people. But just in terms of that lack of standardization, it would be great. I know Kepler, that was the goal originally and that was the impetus to create something that could become a community-wide certification. Do you feel like that’s an issue in terms of some of these different certifications, of it not always being clear from an outsider’s perspective? Aside from some of the trade organizations—like ACVA for Vedic astrology or whatever else; the evolutionary astrology schools for that type of astrology—when it comes to the organizations, it’s always clear what they specialize in. And there might be a lot of overlap or there might be a lot of differences between, you know, what they certify you for.
AO: Yeah, I think that’s important to understand. And I kind of think more, you know, general certification vs. specialty certification. So every country has a certification program—Canada has one, England has one, Australia has one—by a bunch of astrologers that got together, so it’s kind of a general certification. And then there’s specialized stuff. And I know when Kepler came in, the curriculum counted as two years NCGR. You were level one/level two if you did the courses. You know, it is a controversial area, I’ll tell you. People get very testy about which certification you have, and why are you certified and why aren’t you. Or you’re not certified and you should be, or it would help if you were certified. And I think it’s a controversial area, but I do think that having some structural framework will become increasingly important as time goes on because this kind of stuff eventually always gets regulated.
AO: So my feeling is like, what is the criteria? You know, in New York state, we recently passed a law for social workers. They needed a minimum number of hours to be licensed. And now, they have to have continuing ed credits. So I’m on the board of the Jung Foundation here in New York, and we’re now able to offer continuing ed credits to the social worker master’s people. So it’s kind of like, “Oh, okay. So we’ve now just expanded this whole new branch of the offering that the organization is gonna offer.” And again, back to regulation. We’re back to, well, what is competent vs. incompetent?
AO: And I think that’s always an issue. You know, certification doesn’t mean you’re competent, certainly, but it does mean that a group of people have said, “Yeah, you passed the test that we designed to see if you know what you’re doing.”
CB: Right. At the very least, you’re not just making it up off the top of your head. Like I heard somebody do this recently where they came in for an astrology reading. Yeah, there was a local astrologer telling me this story. They came in for an astrology reading somewhere in person and they asked for a natal reading. And the astrologer starts calculating their chart on the computer, and the client gets really worked up and says, “No. I don’t want you to do it from the computer. I want an intuitive astrology reading.” And the astrologer tries to explain that, well, astrology involves looking at the planets and looking at your chart and stuff, and the person’s like, “No. The astrologer I always went to back home would just think of it off the top of their head,” or something like that. So it turned out that whatever this person was used to really had nothing to do with astrology, necessarily. Yeah, so that might be an example of what you were talking about when you’re contrasting an astrologer that has some basic proficiency and is actually doing what other people in the community consider to be astrology vs. something else.
AO: Right. Right. And there are different people that are like, “I do this kind of thing.” And I’m totally cool once you do your version of it. You know, people ask me if I’m psychic. You know, I’m a psychic astrologer. And I’m like, “No, but I can tell you that the planets kind of say to me—,” you know, I’ll say something and they’ll go, “That’s just what they say.” And I’m like, “Well, yeah, that’s what Mercury in Pisces would say.” And I can actually speak the words that the partner’s saying or the boss is saying because the chart’s showing me what would be said, you know. But I don’t think of it as psychic. I don’t know. I can tell you it’s right there. And when I train psychic people who are learning astrology, they’ll read the energy of the chart, and I’ll say to them, “Okay, now go find it in the chart and show me where it is,” and make them ground it. But there’s all different ways of delivering information. And a lot of times people go, “Well, I’m an astrologer,” but they’re really a psychic.
AO: But it’s false advertising ‘cause you’re really not an astrologer.
AO: But that all begets the, well, anybody can call themselves an astrologer today, you know. It’s funny, I went to a class on building WordPress websites. My staff—we took a weekend course—and in the course of the class it basically teaches you how to set up a couple of pages in WordPress and do widgets and crap like that. And this one woman in front of me goes, “Okay, I’m gonna hang up a shingle, and I’m gonna build WordPress sites for my friends for a thousand dollars.” And I just kind of looked at her, and I went, “Okay, you’ve just spent like 400 bucks for a class, and now you’re gonna go build websites. Okay, cool. Go do that.”
AO: But I remember thinking, “Would I want to hire her with a two-day course under her belt?” Basically, she was asking a hell of a lot of questions, so she didn’t really have it mastered, but she’s comfortable enough to charge a thousand dollars to build websites for people. And I think that’s the kind of thing as astrologers we need to be aware of—as professional astrologers we need to be aware of—so that we’re able to work with it. You know, we’re able to kind of say, well, what’s their credentialing? Who did they study with? Are they a member of any known organizations? Are they a gypsy that sets up their stuff—not to pick on gypsies—a gypsy that, you know, reads your hand, or is good at your tells, your body tells?
So I think it’s important to kind of say, well, what actually is an astrologer? You know, what is your definition of an astrologer? In the old days, you know, you wouldn’t get in. You had to be able to do math. You had to be able to do stuff. You had to get picked. And then they might teach you some of it, and then it would take a long time. And, you know, it wasn’t like you could just suddenly sit down and google Moon in the 1st and say, “Oh, you know, your mother’s important to you.”
CB: Right. There was a bar to entry. But now that that bar is gone…
AO: Totally. You know, Rob Hand—he was at some lecture at a conference, and he was talking about, you know, the internet stuff that’s out there about spellcasting. You know, you could totally download stuff. This used to be protected stuff and you required initiation and your required training before you started doing it. And now, you can go do this stuff without any training, and you open up vast portals of —you know, the stuff works. And I appreciate all these kids that were raised on Harry Potter, but they went to school for years at Hogwarts. You know, you need to study to know what you’re doing before you start casting spells. You know, I have Saturn in the 8th, so I have a prohibition against magic and I’m very cautious around it. But, you know, I’ve done enough people that get themselves opened to crap by doing it badly.
You know, they’ve cast a spell, or they’ve hired a spell from somebody on the internet. You know, how do you reverse it? You know, I had one client, and I called Maria Simms—who’s a high priestess, you know, pagan witch—and she’s like, “Oh, Anne, it’s a real problem because they can buy this stuff and you just don’t know what they’ve bought.” And I tell you, we worked and worked to get this thing released. It was really hard. Now I just kind of send that work out. You know, I know people that actually release things. But it’s understanding that it’s a brave new world because there is a thing called the DarkNet, because there is an ability to do this kind of work—and it does work. We all know magic works. We all know that astrology is one of the key talismans you need to do magic. That’s another reason to say you should at least work with someone who knows what they’re doing because when you do a reading with someone, you’re engaging in magic with them.
You’re working in an ancient art that has many, many legacies of hold in it, many, many layers between it. And you’re going in—to John Marchesella’s comment—you’re practicing brain surgery on your friends. But there’s a whole level of depth below astrology that’s part and parcel of the calling and the practice. And before, there were barriers to initiation. Now there are none and you don’t have to. And I would say, you’re right, you don’t have to. But if you do, let’s hold everybody to a slightly higher standard. You know, if we look at the world as the matrix is collapsing, and it is totally okay to lie and it’s totally okay to get away with stuff, and it’s all about how big your pile is—is that the kind of world we want to be in? Or do we want to be in a world where we hold people accountable, where we ask them to behave? I think you actually said it in your lecture in Ann Arbor last week: “We ask people to be responsible.” Was it you?
CB: Potentially, yeah.
AO: But in terms of what the word ‘responsible’ means. You know, behaving the way we’re supposed to behave. What is responsibility, right? And what is responsible? And how do we respond to the energy that’s coming to us? So I think it’s a really important question. This is a surface topic. Underneath it says, “Well, yeah, what is the barrier to practicing astrology? What is the initiation bar?” There’s nothing that says you’re capable or competent. And I think people know a couple of times where we’ve gone, “Oh, man, I wish I hadn’t done that.” And, you know, you did it ‘cause you were young, you were foolish, you were whatever, but you learned from that.
CB: Sure. And there’s definitely a phenomenon because of the lowered bar to entry and because of the enthusiasm people have when they learn astrology or when they learn a new technique or something like that. You will sometimes see people, you know, turning around very quickly after learning something and then wanting to teach it to others, or wanting to, you know, apply it to clients and use it. And sometimes that process can be a little bit quicker than the teacher might like or that an objective observer might like if you see somebody learning something and then immediately turning around to teach it. I guess that’s a really good point in favor of certification since that really would force somebody to slow down and make sure that they did go through all of the hoops before they’re turning around and teaching or using that in practice a little bit.
AO: Mm-hmm. Mm-hmm. Well, two points come to mind. One, you have a technique which helps you find when the person has a career high, right?
AO: Now when you’re counseling them and you’re telling them their career high, and you go, “Yeah, it happened when you were 33.” And the person goes, “Do I have another one?” And you go, “No, that was it. 33.” You know, what do then do with them? Or how do you work with that?
AO: Because you’ve said this is gonna be your high and you had it, you’re done.
AO: The rest of your life, downhill. It’s being able to know the technique and then being able to talk to the person and say, “Okay, now how do we work with that technique?”
AO: Learn how to apply it. You know, I have all different levels of students I teach, and I had one who was really smart, right? So I was teaching midpoints and how to work with them and how to look at them as a scan—you know, kind of a scan for your life, kind of an MRI. And she was fast. And she got there when she was 6, and then added 30 when she’s 36, and she’s 33. And when she was 6, her father cheated on her mother, and it was a big divorce and a big problem. So she burst into tears in the class. I’m like, “What’s going on?” She’s like, “Well, when I’m 36, he’s gonna cheat on me.” And I’m like, “What?” You know, ‘cause when she was 6, her father cheated, and it was very traumatic.
AO: Of course, she’s got a lot of Pluto in the 1st. And I’m like, “Well, maybe you’re gonna cheat on him.” But she got there so fast in the class, you know, she just zoomed right in. And you have people like that where they zoom right in and they get something and then it reverbs in them like, “Oh, my God.” I have Saturn in the 8th. I’m very curious about death. So John Marchesella said, “Oh, you’re gonna be the kind of astrologer that tells people when they’re gonna die.” And I’m like, “No I’m not,” but I’m also very fascinated by it. And I said, “Well, teach me.” He goes, “No. When you’re old enough and you’re smart enough, you’ll be able to figure it out for yourself.” And I was like, “Really?” And he was like, “Yeah.” So when students come to me and they go, “Okay, show me when I’m gonna die,” I’m like, “When you’re old enough and you’re smart enough, you’ll figure it out for yourself.”
AO: You know, what knowledge do we share? What knowledge do we keep? And we know these things, but how do we work with them?
CB: Yeah. There’s a difference between knowledge or technical knowledge of knowing how to do something. But then there’s wisdom that comes from the experience of knowing when to do it and what to say and what not to say, perhaps, in a consulting setting. Especially with some of the techniques that I’ve been using, developing a sort of ethical code and practitioner’s understanding of how to deal with presenting some of that information or sometimes when to withhold it or how to present it so that it’s not damaging to the client is like a special skill on its own.
And that’s actually something I wish there was more focus on in the astrological community on some level in talking about some of those things. I actually really enjoyed John Marchesella’s talk on that at the Ann Arbor conference last weekend—his talk on prediction—where he dealt with some of those issues. And I’m hoping to talk to him again, I think, in the next few weeks here on the podcast in order to explore some of that.
AO: Mm-hmm. I think that’s a great idea. But how do you handle it with your thing? ‘Cause you do see stuff with the Hellenistic. “Okay, that’s it. That’s when it happens.”
AO: I met Chris. I mean, I’ve met him a few times, but I actually ‘met him, met him’ and talked to him when we were up at Martha’s Vineyard last summer. And so, it’s a bunch of astrologers. We were planning the OPA conference last fall at Asilomar. And Chris came out, and he asked us each if we wanted to talk about our charts with his techniques. So we kind of did, you know, big relationship ones, if memory serves me, and big career ones.
AO: And something else. I think you had three. But we’re all astrologers, we all know our charts. And you went through, and I remember thinking, “I wonder what he says to people when he says, ‘Yeah, you’re 33, that was your high’,” and they’re now 50 or 40 or whatever and coming in and going, “What’s going on with my career?” So what do you do with that? How do you work with that?
AO: I mean, it was a really accurate technique.
CB: Sure. So this is with the zodiacal releasing technique.
AO: Zodiacal releasing, yeah.
CB: It’s like the Indian dasha systems. Indian astrology became really popular in the West in the late ‘80s and early ‘90s and that’s when they formed some organizations like ACVA. And I hear stories from other friends and guests, like Kenneth Johnson, that back in the early ‘90s, they all sort of thought about this and hashed out some of those ethical issues about how do you talk to clients when you’re dealing with a technique like that that really lays out the entire life potentially in black-and-white. Not completely black-and-white, but much more stark in terms of chapters of a person’s life than you’re kind of used to if you’re just dealing with transits or progressions or something like that.
And, for me, I mean, part of it is that you have to understand there’s general level peak periods of showing entire decades or two or three decades of a person’s life that will be more active or more pivotal in terms of career matters vs. other ones that might be build-up or cool-down phases. But there’s also smaller, monthly or yearly peak periods as well, so that even if a person is past, let’s say, the most active time in their life in terms of an entire two-or-three-decade-long period in their career, that doesn’t necessarily mean that they’re never gonna hit anything like that again. It just in some instances might not be of the same magnitude, or it might not be in the same field. Because one of the things I’ve shown in studies I’ve done is that sometimes people have completely different careers, and they’ll hit peak periods within those careers at different times in their life. So sometimes it’s just a matter of that, and it’s not just, oh, this person will only ever hit one real high point in terms of their life. But it may be that they have other careers that haven’t even gotten into yet that they’ll experience.
But sometimes, just in terms of that question, there’s a few different ways that I deal with it. And sometimes it’s not being that explicit. Like when I’m talking to another astrologer about the theory of the technique, that’s one thing. But when I’m actually talking to a client, and you’re dealing with what doctors call the ‘bedside manner’, that’s different in terms of how you might phrase something. And in some instances, you might not be that explicit about saying, you know, “This was your high point or your peak period and it occurred at this time,” but you might just phrase it in a slightly different language. But usually when you do, I mean, people react to that very positively in the sense that they’re like, “Oh, yeah, that was a very active time for me in terms of my career.” And then seeing and identifying when they have similar peak periods—even if it’s on a lower level or a lower order of magnitude—coming up in the future is usually one of the ways that I mitigate that, so that there’s some hope or some optimism for things coming up in the future.
AO: Mm-hmm. Stuff to look forward to, yeah.
CB: Right. Yeah, I think that’s really important. Because like you were saying earlier, clients do internalize, and sometimes you don’t realize how much a person might, you know, really take certain things an astrologer says to heart. One of the challenging things about that, though, unfortunately, is that sometimes what the client thinks the astrologer’s said can sometimes be very different than what the astrologer actually intended, and that’s sort of this whole separate, you know, issue in and of itself. Are you conveying what you’re intending to convey correctly? And alternatively, is that person actually hearing what you’re saying, or are they hearing what they want you to say or what they fear that you’re gonna say? So there’s all sorts of things surrounding that as well.
AO: Yeah, and that’s a huge end. And sometimes you say something and the person gets mad at you.
AO: Or they misinterpret and it can be hard. I know when I was coming up, John Marchesella had Mercury in Cap, and I have Mercury in Libra. So I’m gonna hear it differently than he says it. So I said to him, “You said, bop, bop, bop.” He goes, “Did I say that?” And I said, “No, you said bop-bop. But what you meant was bop, bop, bop bop.” But he goes, “But did I say it?” And I’m like, “No,” right? So it’s understanding that what we hear vs. what the person says can be very different. In his case, ‘cause Mercury’s Capricorn, in Virgo’s house, he’s very precise in his communication.
In my case, I had a woman I talked to about relationships. She pulled one in and it broke up. But I always say there’s this window period where you’re ripe, and this is what the person looks like and I can describe what they look like. And the person came in, but then they left. But there was this ‘ripe’ period. It wasn’t like she was done. But she was crying hysterically on the floor, and one of her friends called, and I said this guy was gonna show up, and he had, but he didn’t stay. I said, “Well, she’s not finished being ripe yet. There’s another eight months. This is a period of ripeness. No worries.” And another one showed up at the end, but there was this middle period where she was distraught. When you do a predictive—and, you know, you and I both are predictive-based astrologers.
AO: You know, it’s partly saying here’s the window the energy’s gonna show up, this will probably be what it looks like. But it doesn’t mean just one, it means maybe a few. You know, there’s this period of time where things can take place.
AO: At the same time, if you sit home on the couch, you know, and you don’t go out—unless it’s the cable guy—you’re not gonna meet him. It’s understanding that we’re working with really interesting energies when we work as astrologers because we’re really training people or giving people ideas about how to look at the world in a different way. And really I find teaching them about the range of energy and how it can be expressed or experienced is the best because they feel there’s a sense of empowerment. They know how to work with it, you know.
CB: Yeah. Definitely. And that’s a huge thing. You know, as I’m reviving some of these older predictive techniques, they have a lot of the technical stuff that’s very useful and very accurate in terms of telling you how to determine specific things in a person’s life. But there’s this huge component that’s much more well-developed in modern astrology, which is just, you know, how to convey information in a way that’s appropriate and not damaging to the client and doesn’t leave them with a complete sense of lack of hope or something like that.
CB: And that’s something—I’m just browsing through the ISAR guidelines—they kind of address at different points in terms of prediction and the nature of prediction. And one of the things they say is that, “Astrologers do not make predictions that are likely to lead to unreasonable fears in the client,” which is really interesting. There’s a lot of, of course, nuances. ‘Cause I remember hearing stories that a lot of these ethical guidelines were only really created in the works like 15 years ago or something like that, around 2000, if I understand the history correctly. And there was a lot of debate at the time within the astrological community about what to include and what was appropriate for certain traditions vs. what wasn’t and things like that, right?
AO: Right. Right. Well, people ask me when they’re gonna die. I say, “Well, I can send you to people that’ll tell you ‘cause I know who does that work.” I don’t do that work because I’m in these organizations that prohibit it.
AO: You know, go to a Vedic astrologer, Indian-trained, and they’ll tell you ‘cause you have to get your karma done before you take off. And they have a responsibility to tell you. “You have to do this. And your exit point’s here, so get it done ‘cause you’re leaving then.” So go to one of them. I’ll give you their names. They’ll tell you. And again, of course, modern medicine—we intervene—so people don’t always die when they’re supposed to anymore.
CB: Yeah, that was something we were talking about yesterday, which was just some of the traditional techniques for length-of-life and whether they are able always to predict the specific, you know, time of a person will die or if it’s more periods of problems in terms of a person’s vitality, which if left unchecked they could die, but perhaps might not. That would actually be a great episode just in and of itself.
AO: But I took Bernadette Brady’s Medieval course. One of the things she said was you may find out you’re already dead. You know, you may calculate it.
AO: It corresponds to when you had a major medical thing, but medical technology now saves us.
AO: You know, like an infection or something like that. You know, so now you live past it.
CB: Yeah, so like a thousand years ago you would have died. But now, in modern times, you get some penicillin and you’re okay.
AO: And you’re okay, yeah. And so, she’s like if that happens—she had an explanation for what to understand it as, that you were really on new karma. You were working on different energy thing. And I actually have seen that, Chris. I had a guy who did a lot of work with his karma, and you could see he had a bunch of really nasty aspects coming. And I talked to him about being very careful to not be in situations where he would lose his breath or he would run out of air or oxygen. ‘Cause he was at this transition point and the work in his had technically been finished and he was about to start this new chapter.
And he went to a cave in Thailand someplace, and he was in the cave and when the water was out he could get into it. And he’s meditating in the cave, and he noticed that the water didn’t come above the shelf. He thought, “Oh, I’ll stay in this cave for the next tide in-and-out.” And then he heard my voice saying be careful about a place where you could run out of air, so he decided to get out and the tide was coming in. And he was like, ‘cause it was coming in through the hole that he got in the cave in,“Maybe I’ll stay here.” And then he heard me say it again, so he pushed through and got out to shore where a guy came up to him and said, “It’s good you didn’t stay there. We lose a couple of people every year. They stay and there’s not enough oxygen for 12 hours.”
CB: Oh, wow.
AO: So he emailed me and says, “Thanks. You saved my life.” I’m like, “Cool. Good. Well, actually you got out of the cave.” But, you know, it’s understanding that a lot of times we’re gonna be given the opportunity to help, too, and advise somebody what’s gonna come. So I had a reading with Kelly Surtees last year. She’s an excellent astrologer up in Canada, Australian in origin. And she says to me, “Oh, Anne, your progressed Moon’s gonna come to Algol on Christmas.” And I’m like, “Really?” I watch Algol. I pay attention to him, or her, I guess. And I was like, “Wow. That’s interesting.” And of course when it came—when the progressed Moon got to Algol—I went, “Okay, here it is. Here’s the opportunity for me to lose my head,” and I was able to get through that transition without losing my head, which was, you know, very good. So I think when you look at some of these, you know, difficult transits coming, Bernadette Brady, in her Medieval course, she really could predict when we’re leaving. In my family, I’d be the only one still alive. Everybody else would have died. ‘Cause of all the different things that they’ve had health-wise, I’m the last one standing.
CB: Sure. So it becomes like a ‘forewarned is forearmed’ type situation.
AO: Yeah. Totally. Mm-hmm.
CB: Okay. And briefly, in terms of some of the other things that come along with certifications and the ethics things that you have to abide by as a certified astrologer—especially from the orgs—are things like client confidentiality. And things like not reading charts without permission is another big one that’s in the ethics guidelines.
AO: Right. And I always say to my students, “Well, we do that here. Mom does different things.” I’m always like, you know, you’re an astrologer. You put up a chart of anybody who is a public figure and you don’t have their permission, technically, you’re violating that guideline. If someone isn’t my client, I’ll read their chart. If they’re my client, you know, they show up, “Oh, this is my new girlfriend. You’re her astrologer too. Can we talk about her?” I’m like, “Nope. Not unless she’s here.”
AO: But if someone shows up with it, I’ll read it. But most often, 99.99% of the time you can see the transit in the person’s chart of what they’re supposed to be learning.
AO: And that person coming in is the trigger to the transits. So you don’t usually need to look at the other person’s chart. But, you know, I do mother/children and I do partners. I do read charts without that and that is a prohibition. And I think that’s part of what you have to do is figure out what your ethical posture on it is…
AO: …and figure out where you’re going. But they say don’t do that, but then they read celebrity charts. So I’m kind of like, “Well, you know, no charts at all then.”
AO: You’re talking about these people—you’re talking about them without them being here.
CB: Yeah, I think that’s one of the ones that they debated about. And I think it’s in one of the guidelines, but it might not be in others. But especially in the context of a consultation, you know, if somebody brings in a partner’s chart and says, “Could you read this chart and tell me are they cheating on me?” or something like that or something more innocuous, the question is can the astrologer look at that other person’s chart even though it’s not the person who’s paying for the consultation. And then there have been various debates about that. Different people, I guess, take different sides.
AO: Yeah, I think so. And I know in my case, even inadvertently, I had one mother come and she did not reveal that her daughter was a client. And about two-thirds of the way through the reading, I looked at the daughter’s chart and talked a bit about it. And she said, “Oh, well, you know, my daughter comes to you,” and I’m like, “Oh, okay.” Well, I didn’t do anything, but the recording died. It didn’t record. So I always kind of take those as serendipitous. I talked about it, but there’s nothing recorded about it, you know.
And sometimes, I mean, I’ve actually had the tape recorder turn off. I had a woman talking to me one time about when her dad was gonna die, and it was back when we still had cassette tape recorders. And she was sad. You know, her chart—you could kind of tell what she really wanted. So I kind of went, “Well,” and the tape recorder went off. And it wasn’t the end of the tape, so we turned it back on. And I looked down again, “Well, you know, it looks like,” and it went off again. So she looked at me, and she goes, “Maybe we’re not supposed to talk about it.” And I said, “Yeah, maybe we’re not. So let’s go on to something else.” I think when you’re doing this work a lot of times you’ll know if you’re supposed to do it or not, and you’ll also get a real clear signal if you’re not supposed to. There will be a prohibition.
I can’t read a chart of a person I don’t like. I just can’t get into the chart. So when Sarah Palin came up, I had a very visceral kind of reaction to her. And so, what I do, then, is I look at the month to see what it was. So the Beatles came to America when she was born, and of course, some people thought it was music and some people thought it wasn’t. It was the Winter Olympics. She was very competitive. Cassius Clay knocked out somebody, I don’t remember who. But it was the first time Muhammad Ali arrived, but he came in as a knock-out punch, unexpected. And it was when Johnson signed the Equal Rights Amendment. At the last minute, they added women. So there she was: a very competitive, knock-out punch, woman running on the Republican ticket who some people were absolutely batshit crazy about, screaming and yelling like, you know, the Beatles. “She loves you, yeah, yeah, yeah” as music. Come on. What are you talking about? But I could not read that woman’s chart for love nor money. I couldn’t get into it. It wouldn’t let me in.
And I think as astrologers, I want to do my craft honorably, and I want to do it in a way that helps. You know, when a mother comes and is very Moon-Pluto, I’ll be very cautious about what I say about the children because I know that sometimes that’s a manipulative mother. But if a mother comes and says, “I’m having trouble with my teenager. How do I work with her?”, I also appreciate that that’s a really difficult period of time for a parent and child anyway and how to help that child, you know, navigate that period safely.
AO: And sometimes you’re gonna go through a tough time, and your job is to support the parent, or your job is to support the child. But as we do this work, I think what happens is the universe also knows what our experience range is and how good we are at it, so we get ‘tougher’ cases, for lack of a better word. Or we get cases where we’re actually able to help, and so, that’s also something. When someone’s starting and they’re worried about it, I always say, you know, the universe knows what your training is. So you’re not gonna get the things you don’t know how to handle. You may get things you wish you handled differently, but that’s also what learning is about, you know. And we’re here, you know, in an imperfect world.
I mean, every now and then I’ve yelled at a client, you know, and I always feel a little bad. But I know if I lose it, I’m not supposed to work with them anymore, you know. And I don’t do it often, but I’ve done it a couple of times, and I kind of go, “Oh,” and then I go, “Well, I needed to yell at them, I guess,” or they needed to leave or something. So it’s very interesting work we do because it’s very unlike any other work. You know, it’s a fascinating field, if we honor and we come to it with an open heart, and we stand in a space of vulnerability, and we understand our own issues—‘cause I think that’s important, too, what we bring, what our blind spots are in the person’s chart or in how the person interacts with us. And John always said to me, you know, trust the chart. People lie. Trust the chart. Believe what the chart says.
AO: ‘Cause the chart as a representative of the person’s being is gonna give you different information sometimes than the person is ready, willing, or able to.
CB: Definitely. Yeah, that’s a huge issue dealing with clients in terms of what they’re willing to say, or what they realize about their life vs. what you see through their chart.
CB: And something you touched upon just a bit ago is it seems like each astrologer also ends up ultimately developing their own personal system of ethics and their own guidelines for what’s appropriate or inappropriate action. And I guess the question is what happens when sometimes as an astrologer your personal, ethical beliefs or guidelines about what astrology is and what’s appropriate vs. what’s not and is not in alignment with the community guidelines of what’s ethical or what’s not. For example, you were saying if you’re trying to help a client, or you’re trying to help a parent, you want to be able to read those charts not to give harmful information or information that’s gonna be used to manipulate or undermine the other person, but in a way that’s gonna be used to just gain greater awareness. And so, that might be an instance where your personal beliefs or ethical guidelines might not be in full alignment with the community ethics in how to deal with issues like that.
AO: Mm-hmm. Totally. The person is your transits. So with every client that comes in, when you’re talking to them, you’re talking to your transits when they come to see you. Also, listening to what you say to a client gives you a different perspective. So I have a woman who comes to see me and she has the same chart as my stepmother, and the stepchild that she has a lot of trouble with has the same chart as me, or very similar points. So when this woman comes, I know I’m about to have something with my stepmother. And I always, you know, listen to my advice to her about this woman’s stepdaughter who is ‘difficult’, but I also know the stepmother’s perspective ‘cause I hear her talking it, and I’m like, “Okay.” So I’m hearing a mirror.
You know, the universe is really interesting. And it’s like, okay, how do I stay in a heart-centered place with this Libra who I find highly manipulative and controlling, who actually has the same chart as this client of mine. And it’s like a freaking funhouse mirror. The more conscious you can stay in your comments, in your working with people, say, “Okay, what is the universe trying to teach me through this client?” Because we learn from our clients everyday.
AO: And they give us a knowledge and a wisdom that we wouldn’t necessarily have if we hadn’t listened to our own words going out of our mouths to our clients, you know.
CB: Sure. Definitely.
AO: Or to our students, you know.
CB: Yeah. And that becomes a large part of the accumulated, you know, wisdom that an astrologer gets as they get older. It’s through that process of seeing clients and having certain things reflected back and sort of ruminating on that and reflecting on what you’ve learned from every single client experience.
CB: All right, so we’re coming to the end of this. You’re actually going to keep doing some ISAR certification trainings soon or something, right?
AO: Yeah. The ISAR program I’m having in New York, I’ve had them come in and test. About 18 of my students sat for the test. And a couple of years ago, I had 24 go through the counseling course. It’s actually sold out. But if anybody drops out, we’ll take a waiting list. I’m teaching next week. The first weekend in March, March 13, the two-and-a-half-hour ISAR counseling course, which is also offered before the symposium in October out in LA. And that’s a two-and-a-half-hour course. And the reason I offer that is when I first started and wanted to learn—I mean, I talked to people for a living in sales, but now I’m doing it where I can cause brain surgery on my friends—I found it really helpful.
So I bring it into New York for my students to learn counseling techniques. It’s, again, not something that’s taught, how to talk to clients and how to say things to say things to them in a way that’s supportive and helpful. And so, it’s an excellent course that ISAR offers as part of their certification program, which you can take before the 10 years for the test. So you can take the counseling course now and the ethics test now, and then nine years from now when you’ve been studying astrology for 10 years, take the ISAR certification exam, but it’s a really good program. And then OPA does something similar where they have you present your problem client. They have you do a practice reading and then they have you talk about a business. So it’s kind of a little more working and helping you feel like you have connections to expand. So I’m doing stuff with them with their mentorship program that they just started.
CB: Okay. And you actually recently joined the board of OPA.
AO: Yeah. Yeah.
CB: You are, I think, the new treasurer of OPA.
AO: I’m the new treasurer. People noticed I have Saturn and Venus in Scorpio in the 8th, and they’re like, “You want to keep track of the money?” I’m like, “Oh, man.”
AO: “That’s my Saturn, babe. I’m on it.” So yeah, I got voted in to keep track of the gold of OPA.
CB: Excellent. All right, and obviously, you do a weekly podcast on Blog Talk Radio.
AO: Yep. I do a podcast, and I do webinars. I just started webinars this year with the help of my able assistant, Rose Kearns. She’s actually kind of got it all up and running. A weekly weather column on a website that I post to, AstroAnne, if you don’t know how to spell my last name. A-S-T-R-O-A-N-N-E. And also AnneOrtelee.com. And I travel and teach, so I might be at a location near you. It’s on my website where I go. And I love to help people learn astrology. I think our craft and trade is one of the most magnificent gifts that the world has ever made. And we should all learn our charts when we’re five ‘cause it makes life so much easier when you understand, oh, that’s what’s going on. I have a Mars in Cancer. Let me go take a soak, you know.
CB: Yeah, that level of self-understanding that it brings always seems like it’s one of the biggest things that draws people to astrology and keeps them interested and engaged in it for many years.
AO: Mm-hmm. Mm-hmm. Yep.
CB: Excellent. Well, great. Thanks for joining me. We sort of shifted this episode to be something a little different than it was gonna be originally, but I’m really glad we were able to have this discussion. And maybe we can return back to the other one about, you know, once you get the certification, how to jump into becoming a professional astrologer some other time.
AO: Yeah. Totally. And I want you to all know, Chris did a really great outline. It was really good things, but we did not do much of it.
CB: Right. Well, we got the first three or four bullet points.
AO: Moon is void. We went on a journey. So hopefully, you enjoyed our ‘void’ travels. But yeah, I would say to you, you know, if you love it, do it. Half the time, my job—maybe two-thirds of the time—is encouraging people to do what they love because it’s in your chart, it’s your heart. And, you know, if you know astrology is your passion, give yourself permission to go for it. When I told my father I was gonna be an astrologer, you know, the eminent Aries that he is said, “Can I get a refund on the college tuition?” And I said, “Well, actually, Dad, St. Bonaventure and St. Francis both were astrologers. Brother Sun, Sister Moon, you know.” He was like, “Yeah, yeah, yeah. Who knows? Maybe the statute of limitations hasn’t expired.” So go do you Saturn. Tell your Saturn you’re gonna be an astrologer, and he’ll ask for the college money back, but can still go do it anyway. So it’s a really wonderful craft.
And I have to say I meet wonderful, wonderful people being an astrologer, and I know you do, too. And that’s how I met you, Chris, by being an astrologer. Our paths would not have crossed otherwise ‘cause you live in Colorado and I live in New York, and we met on a little island off of the East Coast of America, you know.
CB: Yeah, that’s one of the favorite things is the type of people you meet and the friendships that you make. And then you get to have interesting conversations like this.
AO: Yeah, the conversations are never boring, I have to say that. There’s always something to learn or do.
CB: Right. And interesting stories. Especially your own story on how you got into astrology and just these amazing tales about people being, not dragged into it. But sometimes some pretty wild stuff happens which leads a person in that path. And it’s always interesting seeing how our paths converged.
AO: Yeah. Totally.
CB: All right, well, I guess that’s it for this episode, so thanks for joining me.
AO: Thank you. Thank you for asking and have a great spring.
CB: All right, and thanks everyone for listening, and we’ll see you next time.
AO: Okay, take care. Bye.