There are times when it is simply ineffective in the astrological consultation – and indeed any other form of communication – to convey information in a conventional, explanatory way, because the conscious mind of the receiver for one reason or another is not capable of absorbing the explanation. Especially when strong emotional, intellectual or identity issues are at stake, there can be considerable resistance. In the psychological discipline of NLP there is a ground rule which states “communication is the response you get” . In other words it is not what you say that counts, but how the listener responds to it. In circumstances like this it’s useful to have some stories up your sleeve.

Brighu Samhita

Which reminds me of a tale that a Vedic astrologer colleague of mine named Finn once related. Visiting India for the first time he set out to find one of the famed “palm-leaf” astrologers, who have the fate of every visitor stored on their archive of palm leaf charts and readings, written thousands of years ago by the legendary Bhrigu. In the northern city of Hoshiarpur he located such an astrologer, who after a few minutes search in his archive placed a horoscope on the table which replicated Finn’s planetary positions exactly. He commenced his reading:

“The man is born in Varn-mahadweep ( Europe?) in a city beginning with K. ( Finn was born in Copenhagen, which begins with the sound of “K”) . He will come here at the age of 35 to hear my predictions between the rivers Satluj and Vays in a city called Chachadpuri (Hoshiarpur?) . His name will be Pinn Wandahl. His father’s name will be from Kai-namsa” (his father’s name is actually Kai). (See Finn’s website )

After describing Finn’s recent past in accurate detail, there followed a long story about his previous life, in which Finn got a curse, which was supposed to destroy his family happiness in this life and the coming two incarnations as well. The curse could be canceled through a religious ritual, performed by the astrologer himself, for which Finn was to pay him Rs. 51.000, equivalent to US Dollars 3.600. For reasons I have never been able to fathom – I mean the astrologer was accurate in almost every respect – Finn refused to pay up. Mind you the astrologer did get that first letter of his name wrong. Accuracy is important.


Finn also told me – or did he? I have to confess that recently my progressed Mercury conjoined natal Neptune, and in a few years will go retrograde to conjoin it again, insuring that the rest of my life will be a rather fuzzy affair. Though, being born with a Mercury/Neptune square, it’s hardly been an example of crystal clarity up to now. Mercury/Neptune could explain my predilection for something as illusory as astrology. Could it? Anyway, when you are telling stories, there is no virtue in being truthful – what counts is the response.

So, Finn also told me about another Indian astrologer… He was famed for his simple methods. When the querent arrived the astrologer simply placed his staff in the ground. Discerning from its shadow the time off the day, and being cognizant of the planetary positions at any given time, he could then read the nadi (horary) chart for the person’s arrival, and accurately relate his or her fate. It is indeed the simple methods that work.


And practicing astrologers in the West can certainly emulate the methods of this esteemed astrologer with very little extra study. We are quite capable of making detailed predictions about the lives on anyone we encounter without the help of computer-generated charts. This is the case because nothing can arise at any given moment that is not in harmony with the movement of the spheres at that moment. Events unfold interdependently with everything else in the environment. The individual consciousness is like an energy node in the flow of time, and when it is focused on an instant in time, all the interrelations are revealed. The astrologer is rather like a wandering question mark, or the Descendant of the chart for the moment, and any event or person entering into this field of consciousness, arises, as it were, on the Ascendant, and is represented by the planet that rules the Ascendant. If you accept this, and have a knowledge of the planetary movement at any given time, then you can develop the same predictive skills as our Indian astrologer. Planets in signs have their stories, and a mastery of these stories is the key to the understanding not only of current events, but of the main life stories of clients.

The Iraq story

At the time of the US invasion of Iraq, both the Sun and Mars were exalted, in Aries and Capricorn respectively. Catching the zeitgeist of the time, news stories picked on the split between the US executive in the form of Bush/Rumsfeld on the one side and the generals on the other. TV documentaries wheeled out retired generals (Capricorn) who criticized the risky nature of rapid advance with extended supply lines (the Aries story) and counseled a slower build up of massive force. Both may have been right, but the combination of these exalted planets was certainly unstoppable. When the Sun finally made the trine to Pluto, Saddam Hussein’s statue was pulled down in Baghdad, a truly iconic moment. As Venus was in Pisces during this period, there was huge humanitarian concern too, making this second Gulf war unique. The holy texts of hundreds of hand-illustrated ancient Korans in Baghdad did not fair so well though. As Venus squared Pluto and went on to square Saturn, plunder was in the air and a thousand years of Iraq’s religious history went up in smoke and filtered down over the city as fine ash over the following days. That’s probably a Uranus in Pisces story too.

Another story – Same time

Basic stories on a macro level, will be reflected by corollaries on a micro level. The people you met during this same period will have embodied the planetary stories of the time. There will have been the efficient and ambitious Mars in Capricorn, who had worked hard all his life, and did not ask for any reward but the satisfaction of a job well done. This Mars will have had a tense relationship to a highly respected Sun in Aries, who had brilliant leadership capabilities (exalted) but an element of ruthlessness (trine Pluto). In the scenario there was a kind and selfless person – represented by Venus in Pisces – struggling with her own private suffering.

This is a person who:

  • Has a life-changing shock (illness, loss?) and entered a completely new phase of life. (Meeting Uranus at 1 degrees Pisces).
  • Goes through a trauma or loss, perhaps an operation, a break-up, or a bereavement. (Squares Pluto at 19 Sagittarius).
  • Meets heavy challenges or crushing difficulty (squares Saturn in Gemini), but rises above all these to gain new spiritual powers. (Exalted in Pisces).

Traditional rules

In meeting people during any particular period, you will be able to identify what planetary energy they are associated with through listening to their story. Even the activities of peripheral people in their lives will be reflected by one of the personal planets and its movements, and will therefore be predictable. If someone talked of a sister who was suddenly diagnosed with cancer, and received radiation therapy, you can safely assume that Venus and its movements will reflect this person. Of course these principles are enshrined in traditional (horary) astrology, though in terms of dealing with clients and meetings it is not necessary to master complex sets of rules. Accurate results can be obtained by simply following the movement of the planets, accurate judgement made by understanding the quality of a planet in a particular sign, and accurate prediction made by ascertaining what aspects were made (the past) and are to be made (the future). Sometimes it helps to invent a story for the benefit of a client, so that the myth or basic energy of a planetary configuration in the client’s chart can be elucidated. This can be particularly useful when the client has a powerful ego, or when pride obscures self-knowledge.


This reminds me of… One client had national renown as a New Age group facilitator with a very successful teaching institute. He worked with his wife, but she was threatening to leave him, because she claimed he took all the credit in their joint work, and behaved liked a guru. As he had a Mars/Pluto conjunction in Leo in the 11th house, I had a feeling his wife had a point… but how to tell him? This is what worked…
“Gosh, I can see you have a Mars/Pluto conjunction in the 11th house. I’ve got that aspect too. (Oh that Mercury/Neptune!). I used to teach astrology in my own school, a bit like you. My wife used to get so annoyed, and she said to me < You flirt openly with your pupils, and they always end up hero-worshipping you, because you lay on the charm so thick > . Personally I didn’t think this was true, but I did find that a lot of women clamored for my attention, and it was getting rather tiring. Maybe she had a point so I said to myself < Make the following experiment. Turn down the energy and force you are using to make an impression > . I found teaching became less exhausting, and I must say my wife preferred the more laid-back attitude and our relationship improved”.

Here the statements in < quotes > are said directly to the client, whose unconscious mind gets the message that his conscious mind would never allow him to receive. As the astrologer you can choose to simply tell a story, or design a metaphor that fits to a particular aspect, claim the aspect yourself and describe how you dealt with it, or recall or make up a client who has the influence. The important thing is to describe the aspect in a way that fits the client, describe its consequences, and describe its solution.

Another story

Which reminds me: I have this friend who has an extremely strong Mercury/Pluto square… I found him extremely perceptive with an amazing ability to get to the root of the matter [Get in your praise at the beginning] , but he had a recurrent problem. People who knew him well got exhausted listening to him because he was so relentless and intense in his communication. His intimate relationships degenerated, as partners ended up either arguing for hours, or maintaining a stubborn silence. [Describe the manifestation] After a period of therapy he discovered that his insistent communication was related to anxiety about a secretive atmosphere in his childhood, which made him feel things were left unsaid, so that he tended to interrogate others. [Describe a probable cause]. He found his relationships were transformed when he relaxed and ceased boring into the secrets and motivations of others. By saying what was on his mind, and then dropping it, anxiety-ridden communication became a thing of the past. [Describe positive alternative behavior.]

The elegance of this kind of interpretation delivery tends to bypass the resistance clients have, enabling them to “try on” alternative behaviors without necessary openly admitting their insecurities. Sometimes clients themselves supply the metaphor that can be the guiding image for their life, either through their dreams or through real events. When this is the case, the astrologer can seize and expand on the client’s metaphor.

Of Whales and Men

The following story, which unfolded when the client’s progressed Mercury retrograded to make a station on radix Neptune in Scorpio in her 3rd house, contains a great spiritual lesson. I wonder if it can explain my own progressed Mercury/Neptune conjunction?

“This woman took a long break from work pressures to travel on a small boat with a group of friends across the Atlantic Ocean. Halfway across the boat was becalmed for two long weeks, the sail just hanging there, and with no land or ships on the horizon. [The Mercury stationary direct] . Very early one morning she was on watch, and she saw a large whale approaching the ship, coming closer and closer…. until it dived and disappeared under the ship. Curious and bored, my client put on her swimming goggles and dived under the boat. Just a few meters from her was the huge whale, with enormous eyes, which stared placidly into her eyes. In those eyes she saw a world she never imagined could have existed, and she told me that she was never quite the same again.”

That might very well be a true story.

Adrian Ross Duncan 29.04.2003