For any work involving a birth chart, we need to have an accurate time of birth, something not always available and yet crucial for any specific work involving timing for ourselves or our clients. If no record of the time of birth is available, astrologers specializing in rectification can be called upon. There are different techniques used to rectify a birth time, most based on taking specific events that have occurred in the life already and working backwards to adjust to find the time of birth. Astrologers specializing in rectification often advertise in TMA and other journals and you can ask the practicing astrologers that you know. The best way to learn rectification is to find someone in your area and see if they teach. Although it is a somewhat technical specialty, rectification is an essential tool that serious astrologers make use of in the course of their work. Even when a birth time is recorded or remembered by a family member, rectifying the chart will sometimes change the chart apparently slightly (by even a degree or two on the Ascendant) and give a different rising sign, which, of course, gives a very different quality to a chart.
In starting with down-to-Earth approaches to astrology, perhaps agriculture is the most obvious example. Planting by the phase and sign of the Moon is the basis for much of this work, although farmers and professional gardeners are much more technical and specific.
In any discussion of practical applications of astrology, we can add horary and electional. Horary, which was practiced extensively in the 17th century and is becoming popular again, is the art of interpreting a chart erected for the time a particular question is asked. Some contemporary astrologers erect a chart for the time the client first calls, or the time of the appointment, and read it as a horary. Electional astrology is used to select the best time for a specific event, most often for a wedding or incorporation of a business. Both horary and electional use the same rules and can be studied through classes, correspondence courses or books. Two recent books that make horary very easy to understand are Horary Astrology Rediscovered by Olivia Barclay (Schiffer Pub. Ltd., 1990) and Horary Astrology by Anthony Louis (Llewellyn, 1991).
Some astrologers specialize in vocational astrology, a modern application used to help people find a suitable career. Noel Tyl has edited a book of modern techniques presented by seven different astrologers called How to Use Vocational Astrology for Success in the Workplace (Llewellyn, 1992).
Mundane astrology is the study of the charts of nations and world events. The book Mundane Astrology by Baigent, Campion and Harvey (The Aquarian Press, 1984) is an excellent work on the subject. In current contemporary journals, look for the work of David Solté, Tim Lyons, Jim Lewis, Mark Lerner, and others for some lively articles on a boring-sounding topic. Mundane astrology (as well as most applications) is often taught at conferences and workshops, so be on the lookout for opportunities to attend astrological events in your area. Often, the most immediate world events are presented at these conferences, making the subject relevant and stimulating.
Medical astrology has ancient roots, as physicians were once astrologers as well, and there are many contemporary branches. Generally speaking, this involves looking at a chart for indications of physical conditions. The underlying causes of illness, timing for surgery, or expected course of treatment are questions traditionally addressed, although there are astrologers who use the chart for preventative health. For a good overview of the subject, I recommend A Handbook of Medical Astrology by Jane Ridder-Patrick (Penguin Books, 1990). (Be prepared to encounter such terms as the decumbiture chart, related to horary, but used specifically to note the time a person takes to his bed with an illness, and used for prognosis.) Midpoints are used extensively in some types of medical astrology and the work of Reinhold Ebertin(1) is essential in the field. Another valuable reference book is the somewhat daunting Encyclopaedia of Medical Astrology by H. L. Cornell (Llewellyn, rev. 1972). A contemporary astrologer who writes for TMA and other publications about medical astrology is Marcia Starck.
Other types of astrology include relocation charts, which are used to find a suitable place to live. (Jim Lewis's Astro*Carto*Graphy maps are related to this question.) There is also the use of astrology for business or money concerns, and Financial Astrology, edited by Joan McEvers (Llewellyn, 1991), is an excellent anthology of different experts in the field. These are all areas of specialty that some practicing astrologers include in their repertoire and others do not. Experiential astrology is another modern application that is well-represented in Barbara Schermer's Astrology Alive! (The Aquarian Press, 1989), as well as her articles in TMA and other periodicals. M. Kelley Hunter, Jeff Jawer, and Melanie Reinhart are other astrologers and writers who work with experiential astrology, which basically uses such tools as psychodrama and role-playing to experience a chart in a vivid way. Look for their articles or any opportunity to work with them personally if this type of approach appeals to you.
Many contemporary astrologers have a counseling or psychological approach to their work and there are many fine books and teachers in this very large and diverse field. Some of the best-known authors here include Liz Greene, Howard Sasportas, Donna Cunningham, Stephen Arroyo, and Karen Hamaker-Zondag. Keep abreast of current journals because there are many lesser-known voices writing compellingly in this field. (I would also include here the specialty in relationship counseling, which can serve as a form of marriage counseling using the respective charts.)
Some astrologers are also considering esoteric or spiritual approaches to our art, and there seems to be a resurgence of interest in Vedic astrology as well as a renewed interest in the work of Alice Bailey regarding astrology. David Frawley's The Astrology of Seers (Passage Press, 1990) and Alan Oken's Soul-Centered Astrology (Bantam, 1990) are good books to start with. Astrosophy is a quite esoteric field based upon the work of Rudolf Steiner, and any books by Robert Powell(2) are well-recommended.
One other application to mention is a focus on forecasting, or predicting future trends or events. This is also a large field which employs many different methods and techniques. Some good bets to start include Noel Tyl's Prediction in Astrology (Llewellyn, 1991), Nancy Anne Hastings, The Practice of Prediction (Samuel Weiser, 1989) and Ronald Davison, The Technique of Prediction (possibly out of print).
There are innumerable other specialties, (including asteroids, harmonics, midpoints, solar and lunar returns, synastry), but in a brief article I need to concentrate on the main applications. In practice, many of these types overlap and you can be a counseling astrologer who can also provide a good electional chart or look at the synastry between two people. What is important is to be clear with your friends or clients about what you are proficient in and where you may be stretching your knowledge a bit. I think it's okay to stretch, but just be clear if a certain area of inquiry is beyond your area of expertise, and have a list of people you know who do specialize. As I said at the beginning, there is some interpenetration of layers that occurs as intuition and experience develop. You'll save yourself a lot of trouble, however, if you don't give financial or medical advice (or pick a day for a wedding!) unless you know what you are talking about.
Congratulations! We have made it through a 12-part beginning series. Have fun! Use your instincts as to how to proceed from here. Whether you have a burning desire to decode some ancient, hidden astrology text or to study the constellations of the zodiac in the night sky from your sleeping bag this summer, know that we are all part of this unfolding beauty and majesty.
1. Reinhold Ebertin, The Combination of Stellar Influences; American Federation of Astrologers (AFA), 1972.
2. Robert Powell, Hermetic Astrology; Vol. 1 (1987), Vol. 2 (1989)
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