When royal astrologer John Dee consulted with Queen Elizabeth I in the 16th century, he almost certainly gave her good advice about matters of state. He certainly chose an auspicious day for the coronation (note 1) as Elizabeth had a long a successful reign that spanned 44 years. But there are some things her probably did not do. He probably did not dwell on the fact that her father, Henry VIII, had declared her a bastard and disinherited her. He probably did not dwell on the psychological consequences of her father having her mother beheaded for supposed adultery. He probably did not reflect on Elizabeth’s ability to have a rewarding love life after her quasi-incestuous relationship in her mid-teens with Thomas Seymour, the 2nd husband of her stepmother and guardian Catherine Parr. (Note 2)
In other words Dee did not dwell on the psychology of his queen or any other of his powerful clients, which might also explain why he survived to the ripe old age of 82. The last thing these people wanted to know was what kind of responsibility they or their upbringing had for the events that befell them. Prior to the 20th century the job of an astrologer was to map out the range of possibilities that lay ahead for their clients, and in this way offer them guidance about their future. And the astrological body of learning at this time was finely attuned to give the best results in this area. Techniques were many and rules innumerable, but the keen student could apply these skills and answer concrete questions about what fate had in store. That they also were accurate is attested to by a study of renaissance masters like William Lilly, Nostradamus, Marcilio Ficino, Cornelius Agrippa and Paracelsus, to name but a few. Their clients wanted to know what would happen, and they did their best to tell them.
Which is in quite strong contrast to the spiritual and psychological approach that has characterized astrology in the last century. Rejecting fatalistic and deterministic views, giants like Alan Leo, Grant Lewi, Dane Rudhyar and Liz Greene have been major figures in a slow evolution to a predominantly psychological interpretation style, where the role of prediction became smaller and smaller and more and more incompatible. This integration of esotericism and psychology is probably connected with the post-Renaissance discovery of Uranus, Neptune and Pluto – planets which open up areas of the psyche that were previously considered fated.
In a sense this evolution reflects the evolution of different models of viewing the universe. Prior to Newton (born 1642) the world view in the West was dominated by Christian philosophy and religion. Newtonian thinking mapped out a universe of action and reaction, which subsequently led to explanations of astrology in terms of cause and effect. Einstein mapped out relativity, leading to and understanding of astrology in energetic and psychological terms. Recent theories about the quantum universe can be used to explain astrology in terms of acausal synchronicity. None of these theories are true, and none are false… they are just relevant within the context of history. Civilization will always reinvent ways of redefining experience as human consciousness evolves. Over the past 2000 years individual consciousness has evolved from being subsumed by the collective through religion, to the development of the individual ego, to which psychological astrology is addressed.
In the last 25 years of the 20th century, psychological astrology really took off – not least because of works by Jungian-trained Liz Greene, of which “Saturn – a new look at an old devil” is perhaps the best known. Astrology went from being merely descriptive to explaining the psychological roots of behavior and thereby providing the client – at least theoretically – with the ability to become conscious of what previously had been unconscious and unexplained. A boom in astrological literature at this time brought heightened awareness of transits, leading to an understanding of the horoscope in terms of personal development and psychological growth.
In the very same period I visited an astrological colleague who had obtained a first edition of William Lilly’s “Christian Astrology” – ink blots and all, who spent painstaking months removing stains and blots, finally publishing the first 20th century edition of this classic work. (Note 3) The startling accuracy of these techniques led to a growing number of horary astrologers and horary astrology schools. Enthusiasts embraced horary skills with the zeal of new converts, and they have fought – often amongst themselves – to preserve the orthodoxy of the teachings. With the incredibly work that has subsequently been done by Project Hindsight (Note 4) practicing astrologers today have access to a original texts dating back to the very origins of the subject covering all forms of astrology and all forms of predictive techniques. So along with psychological astrology, traditional astrology has also flowered and expanded.
When I was editor of the Astrological Association Journal at the end of the 1990’s the split between those astrologers who practiced predominantly psychological astrology and those who practiced horary astrology was pronounced. And this split is still pronounced. In its extreme form horary practitioners reject psychological considerations and simply concentrate on the factual answer to the matter at hand. On the other hand psychological astrologers are at a loss as to how to integrate therapy with prediction. And when predictions do come into the picture, primarily with the interpretation of transits, then they are couched in terms that lack specificity.
The nitty-gritty is that when the psychological astrologer is asked by the client about outcomes, he or she cannot – and will not – supply them. To work therapeutically with a client, and then to pronounce an outcome in advance seems counterproductive. Conversely the horary practitioner happily provides the outcome, if it is clear, but is unable to give the client any tools to deal with it.
But this split between the psychological and the predictive is unnecessary and unhelpful. It is illusory to see traditional astrology as separate from a “modern” psychological astrology – it is all the same body of work in constant evolution. But right now there are many clients having an incomplete experience of the potential of astrology because of the lack of integration between prediction and therapy. The kind of client who in the eighties or nineties was satisfied with a psychological profile is dead and gone. People also want practical guidance about how to lead their lives, and this practical guidance can provided by what was once called Horary Astrology. In Europe the same study is called “The Astrology of the Moment” – in other words it is about what is happening here and now.
All things happen at the intersection between subjective consciousness and objective experience. The experiences that arise to greet our consciousness are dependant on innumerable factors related to previous actions. The way we deal with these experiences is dependant on our character, and the horoscope is a map of our character. It is a map of past actions and potential future actions – in the sense that a map of the London Underground is a map of London. The horoscope needs to be populated by the attention of the astrologer and client, just as the traveler, map in hand, sets out to explore London. The horoscope maps the past and present, but you get to co-create the future through your actions here and now.
The horoscope for any given moment is a map of the intersection of personal consciousness with time. It reflects exactly what is relevant about that moment for the individual. That is horary astrology. The horoscope for any moment deemed significant by the individual will inevitably reflect the essence of that individual’s interaction with the world – it could not be any other way. The planetary positions will exactly reflect not only the dynamics of the moment, but also the events leading up to it (previous aspects) and the events that are to come (aspects about to be formed). Even the timing will be provided by the movement of the planets and the sweep of the angles.
The astrology of the moment is no more than the same transits used by all astrologers, including those who work exclusively psychologically – just with added detail. Instead of looking at the headlines, the small print becomes visible. The added ingredient is the significance of the moment and the horoscope for the moment, which can be interpreted as a full chart, house rulers and all. Instead of explaining, for example, a Jupiter transit as a general theme, it is then seen in a specific context. Seeing such a theme in context is a huge advantage when working therapeutically.
This is best illustrated with an example. (Note 5)
Natal Chart: Client Mar 11th 1963. 14.28 Copenhagen (AS 15.41 LE)
Consultation 1: Jul 13th 1990 16.00 Copenhagen (AS 13.01 SC)
Consultation 2: Aug 13th 1991 16.00 Copenhagen (AS 2.36 SG)
Two visits from a client, with a year and a month in between, replicated her natal Sun-Jupiter conjunction straddling the 9th house. Each time she came, the consultation chart picked up the theme of seeking happiness with lovers abroad, probably indicated by Jupiter ruling the natal 5th house. It related to the fact that her father used to take her on holidays – traditionally they visited a popular island resort (Pisces) as a “special treat”– but the holidays were an excuse for the father to get away from the mother and conduct a secret affair with another woman, in what was a yearly ritual.
The daughter, with Mercury in Pisces in the 8th, opposite Pluto-Uranus, kept this deadly secret throughout her childhood, but not without exacting a material quid pro quo from her father over the years. Obviously deeply impressed by this recipe for happiness, the daughter kept replicating it ever since. In each of her visits to me she was involved with a married man in another country, who she hoped would leave his wife for her. After all, with Saturn in her natal 7th house cusp, where was the appeal in being married?
It is easy to see that armed with the horoscope for the moment, the start of the consultation, the astrologer can see how a life theme – the Sun-Jupiter conjunction partially in the 8th and partially in the 9th house – is reflected in circumstances here and now. Instead of a general interpretation of the Sun-Jupiter theme, it is now possible to be specific. The potent energies of the present despair connected with the dream of a hoped-for partner, who is in fact already married and a thousand miles away, can be mobilized in the therapeutic process. It is comparatively easy to show how the client’s choices are unconsciously programmed by past experiences. And once this awareness dawns, the client cannot wait to change. This person did drop a history of love affairs shortly after the second consultation, married and had children. The fact that she had to come twice, and both consultation charts showed Sun-Jupiter in the 8th-9th houses shows that I did not do the job properly first time, but got a second chance.
It is tempting to think that this correlation between the birth chart and the consultation chart has been cherry-picked. It is a good example, but in fact this kind of correlation is the rule. I have had clients come with aspect patterns that could only have happened astronomically twice – once at birth and once at the consultation. At the very least clients will come with powerful natal aspects repeated with modifications at the time of the consultation. Planets are often at the exact same degree; the same combination of Sun, Moon, Mercury and Venus will be found in the same signs; the Ascendant and houses are the same… there are many variations, but almost invariably the consultation chart will be a neon sign, pointing to exactly those themes in the birth chart that are relevant for the client today.
What a tool this is to the psychological astrologer! And at no cost. No new techniques need to be learned, no new skills acquired. Yet this method is the traditional method. William Lilly used the consultation chart as a rule, rather than the birth chart. Astrologers in India are adept at this – even dispensing with the horoscope altogether. Placing their staff in the ground and observing the time through the shadow it casts, and being cognizant of the position of the Sun, Moon and planets, the consultation chart is already there, with its message of past actions and future results. This is the astrology of the moment, pregnant with meaning.
In traditional horary some practitioners maintain that there are circumstances in which a chart cannot be interpreted. The word “strictures” has been coined to signify astrological configurations which prevent interpretation. These do not apply in the consultation chart. If the client turns up with the Ascendant in the last degrees or the first degrees of a sign, for example, it merely reflects something important about their situation. (That is: whether something is being wound up, or a new situation is about to develop). The same applies to whether the Moon is void of course, whether Saturn is in the first or seventh house, and all the other considerations which might traditionally be thought to prevent judgment. There are no circumstances in which the consultation chart for the client’s arrival can not be interpreted. Otherwise interpretation rules are as we know them: the client is represented by the Ascendant ruler, his partner by the Descendant ruler, his boss by the 10th house ruler, his home by the 4th house ruler etc.
When the astrologer adds the chart for the moment to the consultation process, it is like someone discovering for the first time that they have needed to wear glasses. The sudden clarity opens up many new perspectives. Not only is there a tool for precision therapy, it also becomes possible to answer quite detailed questions. What practicing astrologer has not had a client pose questions that are extremely difficult to answer if you are only relying on transits and progressions? Should my mother go into a nursing home, or stay in her house? My boyfriend wants to move in – is this a good idea? I have a potential business partner – is it someone I can trust? These are the kind of questions clients expect astrologers to have answers to… and with the consultation chart you do.
The astrological consultation can be a life-changing experience for the client – a time when the raw energy in the client’s psyche is exposed, and being exposed, ready for change. The snapshot of time afforded by the consultation chart reflects clearly the events leading up to the meeting and the current situation. If you identify the actors in play – the people and things the planets represent – then this chart also maps out the future. Prediction is suddenly brought back into the psychological equation. How are you going to handle it?
What can’t be done is to work on the client with, say, a Moon-Uranus square, showing how emotional shock and separation has created an unreal and glassy barrier between the client and his loved one, and then say: “You’ll separate in 5½ months”. Experience shows that even good astrologers get predictions wrong quite a lot of the time. Concrete predictions without the involvement of the client are quite unhelpful. Clients tend to ignore them; they don’t sink in. On the other hand, when clients are invited into the prediction process they get enthusiastically involved, and there is a likelihood that the predictions will be correct.
Specific predictions about the future can be made if the details of a client’s life have been explained by the client. The fewer the details the more difficult it is to be specific – at least that is my personal experience. There are literally millions of permutations in a person’s future, if you have no idea of the framework. Looking at an Underground map it is possible show someone the way, but it is impossible to imagine what it will be like emerging into the hectic crowds at Piccadilly Circus or Times Square, if you have never been there. Only the client knows what it is like to be the client; without the client’s involvement prediction will fall flat.
Prediction in this context is the co-creation of a desirable scenario by the client with the guidance of the astrologer. Events do not come out of the blue – or at least it is very rare. The car is not going to crash; the plane is not going to be hijacked; the client will not win the lottery. Normally events unfold exactly according to the wishes and drives of the client. What a client builds up in life is a combination of hope and experience – Jupiter and Saturn. The mind is in a constant state of wishing for a desired scenario, whilst taking account of the current limitations. The transits of the outer planets represent more subtle forces that can seem outside the client’s control. Thus transit Pluto might show an existential battle that is draining a client of energy, Neptune an inner sense of meaninglessness that undermines the life nerve, Uranus a restlessness and desire for freedom… and these feelings may be more or less unconscious. The astrologer can help define the goals, refine the hopes, and explain the evolutionary processes of the outer planet transits.
When the client comes to the astrologer, there is often tremendous lack of clarity about the future. Clients are not at first so interested in what psychological patterns make them tick, but they are very interested in what to do. They feel perhaps that they have a variety of choices. You feel that you have a good idea via transits and the consultation chart, which way things will go, though you may be wrong. Prediction is now the art of aligning the genuine desires and needs of the client with the indications you see in the horoscope.
In the following example the client came 6 minutes earlier than the planned time of 10 a.m.:
Consultation chart: March 14th 2008. 9.54 am Copenhagen. (AS 27.59 GE)
Birth Chart: May 16th 1963. 17.20 Copenhagen (AS 27.24 LI)
The birth chart showed a tight T-square with Saturn at 22.51 Aquarius conjunct the Moon and opposite Mars at 21.40 Leo, with a Sun-Mercury conjunction in Taurus in 8th House. The consultation chart (transiting) Neptune is within 3 minutes of arc of that Saturn. Her Mars-Saturn opposition is echoed in the consultation chart by the exact sextile that takes place between these planets that day showing her enormous drive for professional success. The current Venus-Mars trine reflects the very same trine in her birth chart. The Sun-Moon square in the consultation chart with an orb of one degree reflects the Sun-Moon square with the same orb in the birth chart. Both the birth chat and consultation chart Ascendants are at 27 degrees.
This is a good example of the client’s expressed wishes for the future being out of harmony with the astrological indications. The client launched into a description of her plan to sell a new health project to the corporate world and wanted to know about her chances. But the consultation chart shows the main players in transition – the Ascendant will soon change sign, and there is imminent change for Ascendant ruler Mercury, where it will enter the opposite sign from its rulership (and will therefore be out on a limb), and furthermore oppose Saturn, which hardly bodes well for success. And clearly with transit Neptune activating the Mars/Saturn opposition in 2008 and the Sun/Moon square in 2009, the realization of ambitions and attainment of material security is simply not on the agenda. Further probing revealed that the client was had been off sick with stress for four months, which is clearly indicated in the consultation chart by the separation of the Moon in the 12th house in square to Uranus by four degrees (reflecting her natal Moon/Uranus opposition). So basically the client was in no state to fight the battles that she had in mind amongst the big players in the health industry.
The psychological astrologer could focus on many things, but obviously the Moon/Saturn conjunction in the 4th opposite Mars indicates a relentless and dominating mother, who managed to maintain a glassy distance to her child, and punished her physically when she was out of line. With transiting Neptune going over this pattern and squaring the Sun and Mercury in Taurus from 2008 to 2010 it was highly unlikely that she would have career success, and highly unlikely that she would attain the economic security that the Sun in Taurus in the 8th longs for. But the T-square also shows a stubborn determination, so, despite being off work with stress, she was still driving herself hard.
With the consultation chart ruler in the 10th going into Pisces to oppose Saturn, quite clearly she was not going to realize her plans. My first job was therefore to disavow her of her belief in the possibility of career success in competition with large and successful health care firms. Really this idea is reflected by Mercury in Aquarius conjoining Neptune and the North Node, and Mercury would be moving out of Aquarius within the day. The Sun’s conjunction with Uranus and sextile to Jupiter in the 8th showed the big players.
Psychologically speaking the meaning of Neptune’s transit over the T-square is to soften up the ambitious and oppositional approach which she has to life. Generally this softening up occurs because initiatives run into the sand, the ocean undermines the cliff. Failure is the engine of change, bringing surrender, and with surrender come acceptance, spiritual depth, nuance and insight. My client’s “stress” was a trick of the psyche to stop her in her tracks until she had redefined her views about what was important about living.
What was not conducive to happiness was to continue a pattern of behavior that required her to battle against the odds. That is what she did in childhood. She was beaten into submission but survived by switching off the emotional signals (Moon-Saturn in Aquarius) and putting up a stubborn fight. Punishment was met by defiance; when pushed, she dug her heels in.
To get the client to realign to a more empowering view of the future requires working with past and future in parallel. Holding the future scenario in mind – she had to drop her doomed enterprise – the strategy is to get her to reconnect with the emotions connected with her difficult childhood, and evoke an awareness of certain decisions she made at the time to hold out, no matter what. With the dawning of realization it is then possible to turn the attention to the future once again.
Her main concern was for security – she must battle it out and win… it was a matter of economic survival. But that’s tough, because her economy will be undermined in the future with the Neptune transit to her Taurus sun. It would be foolish to imagine economic security in the short term. So what are the bright points?
The bright points are: she his married, her husband has a good job, so he can support her (as indeed he is doing while she is off work with stress). The ruler of the 7th house (partner) in the consultation chart is Jupiter, in partner’s 2nd house, where it will retrograde to trine Saturn during 2008 and also sextile Uranus… he is earning more money all the time. She owns her home and there is plenty of equity in the property. And with current house prices, that is a lot of money. So what is the problem? She has enough to tide her over during the next 2 years. And she agrees.
Now she is already feeling better because the prospect of struggling for success is in reality overwhelming for her, and the idea of letting things flow whilst her husband provides the security is having growing appeal. But what should she do with her time? What she should do is what Mercury will do… enter Pisces, oppose Saturn, conjoin Venus, ultimately activating the Jupiter/Uranus sextile, though that is some time into the future. Mercury has actually been retrograde in Aquarius and had conjoined Venus earlier, and then Venus had gone ahead. Now Mercury, gathering speed, was about to conjoin Venus again, but this time a Venus exalted in Pisces. What story is that?
The story is that she has written a book for her child (Venus and Mercury rule the 5th house in the consultation chart). Whilst she had been off sick, that was what she did. She liked doing it. She did not like struggling to find clients for her health business, but when she sat down to write that book, time went by and she felt happy. Should she try to get the book published? Well, if she does it will be rejected – Mercury opposes Saturn – the book is not good enough, yet. What will happen is that as Mercury reconnects with Venus and then travel together through Pisces until activating the Jupiter/Uranus sextile, she will continue creative writing. This may also be good in the long-term for success in the health industry, but probably because of some innovation or alternative approach.
The client liked this scenario and left with a feeling that she could survive a couple of years of financial insecurity with the resources offered by her husband and property, and that she could advantageously use her time being creative. At the same time she had a psychological understanding of the inner dynamics that made her stick at something that was not going to bear fruit. In this way the consultation satisfactorily integrated quite a detailed scenario for the future, with some psychological realization and change.
A good astrological consultation interweaves past, present and future into an integrated whole. Rediscovering the past is not enough in itself; the insights of the past have to be integrated in a plan for the future, and the plan for the future is waiting to be discovered in the consultation chart and expanded upon with the combined resources of client and astrologer in an empowering act of co-creation.
Note 1: Coronation of Elizabeth I: January 15, 1559 12.00 LMT
Note 2: The consequences for Seymour were not so good. Catherine Parr had him arrested for treason and beheaded.
Note 3: Catriona Mundle who helped restore this first edition is still practicing as a consultant in England.
Note 4: Project Hindsight was founded in 1993 astrological scholars Robert Hand, Robert Zoller and Robert Schmidt and is dedicated to translating original astrological texts.
Note 5. This example comes from my book: “Astrology: Transformation and Empoerment” Red Wheel-Weiser 2002. (Page 220)