The art of the astrological consultation has many facets.  First there has to be a mastery of the symbols and imagery of astrology – the signs and houses, the aspects, and the dynamic elements of transits and progressions for example. This could be compared to learning a language like Chinese, with its rich and symbolic pictograms, and perhaps it takes just as long to learn both subjects. If your study of astrology inspires you in the direction of taking clients, then a whole new set of skills have to be learned. For you may know how to explain the horoscope to people, but will you make a positive difference to the way they run their lives?  (Note 1)

The horoscope can be used to deliver information, and clients can have the satisfaction of feeling there is a connection with cosmos and meaning to their lives. However, if you present the information well enough, the client is going to end up asking the question – “Well, what can I do about it?” For example, someone with a tense aspect between Mercury and Pluto may exhaust people with suspicious and interrogative behavior, and you may be able to get him to recognize this, but will the client be able to change this behavior, which is in fact rooted in painful events at the fringe of childhood memory? You explanation in itself is not going to change the behavior.

Planets themselves represent huge complexes of energy that inform behavior, and this is said to be colored by the sign they are in, then manifested through the house, rather like a film projector projects a film onto a screen. In the consultation, it is the interplay between the planets that is interesting, and from a psychological point of view it is the aspects between the five personal planets and the five outer planets which constitute easily recognizable psychological archetypes which can normally be very successfully conveyed to the client. Each of the twenty five inner/outer planet combinations is associated with very specific behavior, which the client readily identifies with.

It may well be that an inner/outer planetary pair has a specific manifestation, and that you can speedily get the client to find it. So for example, a woman with a tense aspect between Venus and Saturn may find herself locked in a repressive relationship and feel herself to be unloved. You may trace this back to her experience of a formalized parental relationship characterized by duty, a sense of never getting appreciated as a child etc. You may work forward and find that as Saturn opposed its birth position around the age of 15, a first love turned into disappointment. You may identify decisions to be cautious in love, which later reduces choice or leads to a partnership with someone for the sake of safety or appearance.

So far, so good… but the challenge at this point is to change behavior which has been learned over decades. One way of doing this is by catharsis, which is attained by a deeply felt emotional acceptance of behavior, which one would prefer to keep secret from other people. If the astrologer can get the client to share this acceptance, then some kind of breakthrough can occur. Explaining the horoscope is a very rational process, and this will not go deep enough, but it is a necessary first stage. The first step is to identify practical circumstances in the person’s personal life, which the person wants to change.

The second step is to associate the person carefully with the emotional state connected with the circumstances. This is not a mental process; the client accesses feelings often rooted in specific places in the body. For example Moon/Pluto discomfort is generally in the stomach and solar plexus, whilst Venus/Saturn will often be in the throat area. When a person associates with feelings, then a clear channel is established to memory, because these feelings are timeless. It is then not too difficult to get back to primary emotional experiences connected with a planetary pair: the humiliating experienced with potty training for a Mars/Pluto person perhaps, or constant martyrdom of the mother with Moon/Neptune aspects.

To handle these difficult and often traumatic experiences, children develop behavior to protect themselves, and it is this behavior that causes trouble later on. The Moon/Uranus person dissociates at times of stress and establishes an electrified no-go zone, the Mercury/Neptune person creates a smokescreen to avoid unpleasant discussion etc. If you and your client have uncovered this behavior, and an urgent need is felt to change it, at this point, and only at this point, it is possible to experience catharsis by admitting to an embarrassing truth. Really it is only excruciatingly embarrassing to the client, other people have their own stuff they want to conceal, and they are rarely very shocked to hear what another person does.

Below is a list of what is cathartic to admit for the 25 main inner/outer planet combinations:

THE SUN – Existential challenges

Sun/Jupiter: The importance of being right

Experience is filtered through an intellectual, spiritual and moral filter which subtly changes reality. What’s cathartic to confess for Sun/Jupiter people is that secretly they know they’re right and believe themselves to be superior.

Sun/Saturn: The need for respect

This person has a special filter attuned to being “slighted”, and manages to interpret a lot of innocent behavior from others as derogatory. What’s cathartic for Sun/Saturn people to admit is that secretly they are convinced they are inferior, and that the structures for excellence they build around them will be seen to be a sham.

Sun/Uranus: Visiting Planet Earth

The violently dissociative defense methods of Sun/Uranus mean that emotions are anaesthetized, and a strong analytical nature is developed at the expense of emotional vulnerability. What’s cathartic for Sun/Uranus people to admit is that secretly they know they are outsiders, and that those they know will discover how distant they feel.

Sun/Neptune: Am I real?

A lifetime of experience has given the client high ideals, but low expectations, and this often translates as a sense of resignation. What’s cathartic for Sun/Neptune people to admit is that the individual they project themselves to be is empty and meaningless, and that people will see through their act.

Sun/Pluto: Anxiety and dominance

Anxious that others may dominate them, Sun/Pluto individuals compensate and end up being dominating themselves, and are often quite unaware of the fact. What’s cathartic for Sun/Pluto people to admit is that they feel powerless, and are frightened of losing control.


THE MOON – Cradle of the unconscious

Moon/Jupiter: Being unconsciously judgmental

Therapeutically speaking, it is the emotional filter which registers “injustice” that needs attention. What’s cathartic for Moon/Jupiter people to admit is that they are emotionally demanding but do not want to be held to account to fulfill other people’s emotional needs.

Moon/Saturn: The emotional drawbridge

Moon/Saturn people must realize that no person can supply the emotional nourishment that has always been perceived to be lacking. What’s cathartic to admit for Moon/Saturn people is that they feel starved of emotional support, but are frightened they’ll be rejected if they show vulnerability.

Moon/Uranus: The restless gypsy

There is a kind of spaced-out sensation, or numbness. When in crisis, Uranus reacts through a wrenching detachment, as if sucked into space at the speed of light. What’s cathartic for them to admit is that they feel on the outside looking in, and that a sense of being an outsider sits uneasily in their stomach.

Moon/Neptune: The psychic swamp

When emotional upsets arise, Moon/Neptune people step into their own private lake of sorrow and swim listlessly about, sad to be there, but glad to give themselves up to the siren song of a place where they paradoxically feel secure. What’s cathartic for them to admit is that they use the threat of sadness and the ensuing bad atmosphere to force others to organize the environment in a way which suits them.

Moon/Pluto: Amputating feelings

Moon/Pluto has the ability to amputate all feeling at times of crisis. This leads to exhausting emotional relationships, and the sense that the intimate life is a battleground or a wasteland. What is cathartic for Moon/Pluto to admit is their unconscious need to manipulate others and the environment to feel safe and to be in control.


MERCURY – Making connections

Mercury/Jupiter – Right and wrong

Mercury/Jupiter people exalt the idea of meaningfulness and fairness to unjustified heights, and are prevented from making simple decisions because of dialectical considerations. What is cathartic to admit is their inner dialogue is self-righteous and subjective.

Mercury/Saturn – Fear and fluency

Saturn/Mercury is the portcullis that descends whenever there is a mental challenge, which the person feels cannot be met. In time this can actually lead to an expectation not to understand, and an elaborate cover-up to disguise the supposed lack of understanding. What is cathartic to admit is their inner dialogue is self-dismissive and fearful, and that they project a fragile facade of understanding, which they fear will be exposed as fraudulent.

Mercury/Uranus – Quite contrary

Mercury/Uranus often manifests itself as attention seeking by being outspoken. The ability to let loose an arrow from a very surprising direction is part of the arsenal of the client in the competition for hearts and minds of listeners. What is cathartic to admit is they have little control over a provocative inner dialogue that distracts them and prevents them from tuning in to others.

Mercury/Neptune – The smokescreen

There is a discrepancy between what they actually say, and what they are in fact thinking. This discrepancy can often mean that their words lack real power, and they can often feel as if they are communicating through cotton wool, or that other people do not pay enough attention to what they say. What is cathartic for them to admit is that they feel alone and ignored, that they cover up the truth, and that they fear their ideas carry no weight in the world.

Mercury/Pluto – Secrets and lies

There is a special mental filter in operation that makes them question what is said, because they suspect that something more important is left unsaid.  The secret of transformation here is in the empty abyss of silence when the client ceases to fill the space with words. What is cathartic for them to admit is they greet much of what is said with suspicion. They expect people to conceal things from them, but actually conceal things from people.


VENUS – Bonding

Venus/Jupiter – Horn of plenty

The refusal to face up to unpleasant truths – like extravagance leads to poverty, indulgence to surfeit, promiscuity to loss – spoils the party, and the romantic dream leads to rude awakening. What is cathartic to admit is that pleasure has a price. Happiness in love is not an inherent right, life is not a Barbara Cartland novel, and disappointments often stem from their own spoilt behavior.

Venus/Saturn – Hungry for love

The painful lesson of Venus/Saturn is that if love is demanded, it will be withheld. Self-sufficiency has to be developed founded on an inner conviction of own worth. What is cathartic to admit is for fear of getting hurt they are stingy with love.

Venus/Uranus – Birds in flight

Venus/Uranus clients have very strong emotions, just like anyone else, but they avoid hurt through a lightning-fast process of disassociation. What is cathartic for them to admit is behind a friendly and reasonable facade they are not emotionally in touch with their partner or themselves.

Venus/Neptune – Longing for pure love

After a few months elapse, Venus/Neptune begins to focus on all those things that aren’t perfect with the loved one and wonders what has happened to their perfect partner. What is cathartic for them to admit is that whilst professing the very highest ideals, they are inauthentic in their relationship.

Venus/Pluto – Love and survival

Psychological striptease slowly undermines the relationship; each crisis is another nail in the coffin of love. Revealing this shadow side turns out to be very unwise. What is cathartic for them to admit is they are secretly paranoid their partner will leave them, and that their love and sexuality is measured to keep control of the relationship.


MARS – Warrior and Lover

Mars/Jupiter – Learning to win

Mars/Jupiter clients have a long history of intellectual competitiveness, where they falsely assume that to show ignorance is to show weakness. What is cathartic for them to admit is that they nurture feelings of arrogant superiority, and believe themselves to be right and others wrong.

Mars/Saturn – the hard slog

When they meet resistance – and they often do – they doggedly dig in their heels. Yet time and again, they are beaten, and this adds to their sense of fighting against the odds. What is cathartic to admit is they resent people with authority, and are motivated more by fear of failure rather than desire for success.

Mars/Uranus – Shock tactics

Mars/Uranus clients like doing things their own way, and they can scarcely bear to follow orders. In a difficult job or relationship, they may bear things for a while, but if it’s more than they can stand, they will up and go with no warning. What is cathartic for them to admit is they are needlessly provocative, and choose the life of an outsider because of immature anti-social behavior.

Mars/Neptune – Desire and sorrow

Mars/Neptune clients are often led astray by very strong desires, which undermine their will and moral fiber. What is cathartic to confront is the inner sleaze, the secret immoral imaginings, the subjection of will to desire.

Mars/Pluto – Power and powerlessness

Mars/Pluto people are terrified of losing control, and expend so much energy maintaining it that they exhaust themselves and feel at the mercy of unpredictable developments. What is cathartic to admit is they are manipulative and play power games, re-enacting primitive survival scenarios without concern for the sensitivities of others.

It is the hard diet of truth which is cathartic and liberating to clients. The inner demons love the darkness of suppression, and fade and die away in the light of openness and honesty. A client is empowered by this realization and by the fact that their embarrassing secret is unimpressive and even interesting to others. It may just awaken compassion. Accepting their inner demons is like giving clients permission to just be themselves. Everybody wants that.

Adrian Duncan December 9th 2012

1. This article forms the basis for a talk given at the online conference in early December 2012 – Breaking Down The Borders – 2.
We all spend a lot of time concealing our demons, but when it comes to the crunch, out they come to create chaos. Every challenging aspect from inner planets to outer planets has a specific unwanted behavior. For example the Sun opposite Jupiter for this conference shows fantastic intellectual qualities, but the embarrassing truth for Sun/Jupiter individuals is their innate sense that they are better. Mercury aspecting Pluto? Anxiety about being listened to means you dominate the conversation. Venus to Saturn. Insecurity about love inclines you to make a match below you. In this talk we will allow twenty-five (self)important demons to run around a bit, then we will put them back in the box. Oh. We may also try to remove the box.

2. These espects ar explained in much greater detail in my book: “Astrology: Transformation and Empowerment”.