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Ask an astrologer a question…..

Astrologers are always being asked questions — by clients, by students, by interviewers for various media outlets, by open-minded members of the public, by closed-minded-members of the public, by one’s friends and family. The list is endless, the questions multifarious, the answers….? Well, that depends . . . .

I thought it might be interesting, and fun, to share with TMA blog readers my own answers to a few typical questions I have been asked over the years. Perhaps you might feel like responding with examples of your own!

What is your most memorable personal experience with astrological symbolism?
I remember how gripped and excited I was early on in my work as an astrologer and teacher by the revelatory power of progressions. (I always found Naibod Secondary progressions to work best.) In the early 1990s I was doing a great deal of exploring of my own family horoscopes; an advantage of practising astrology in Scotland is that birth times are written on the birth certificate.

My Midheaven is 29º Taurus and the Ascendant is 9º Virgo. One day, I decided to take the horoscopes of my paternal grandmother and my maternal grandfather, the grandparents with whom I identify most, and progress them to the day of my birth. To my amazement, BOTH of their progressed Midheavens were 29º Taurus and their progressed Ascendants were 9º Virgo.

I remember being so stunned by this that I had to go out and clear my head with a walk in our local park. What I felt at the time, and still feel about this, remains beyond words to express adequately. It’s as though the wing of a great mystery fleetingly brushed my spirit, mystery shot through with a profound sense of the vast underlying ground of interconnectedness from which all life arises, to which it all returns — of which we humans are privileged to be a part.

It is perhaps unavoidable that, as astrology teachers and practitioners, we become a bit blase and matter-of-fact about our working world from day to day, as everyone does to a greater or lesser extent. But I have found — and I’m sure I’m not alone in this — that every now and then something so profound, so shocking, happens that we are reminded of the power with which we are engaging, and we are knocked sideways by it, just as I was that day.

Your training is in psychological astrology. Are you less interested in the way astrological symbolism can manifest concretely because of this?
No, not at all! In fact, the examples which immediately spring to mind in response to this question are concrete rather than psychological! No surprise that they mostly involve Saturn.

During the 1980s, the last time Saturn was transiting Scorpio, there was a year-long square of Saturn to my natal Moon. No doubt there were serious and profound psychological challenges involving both my own life and clients’ lives at the time. However, most vivid in memory is my lovely, heavy, bright silver neck chain, which, unaccountably, turned black early on in the Saturn/Moon transit. Rather upset by this, I took the chain to two reputable jewelers to be cleaned. Neither of them had any success. It remained a dull black. I almost threw it out, but in the end I stuck it at the back of my jewelry box and forgot about it.

Not long after transiting Saturn had moved away from the square to my Moon, I had occasion, whilst looking for another piece of jewelry, to rummage around at the back of the box. I pulled out that abandoned silver chain and could not believe my eyes. There it was, shining as brightly as ever.

(If the topic of planet/metal affinities interests you, the book to obtain is Nick Kollerstrom’s Astrochemistry: A Study of Metal-planet Affinities.)

The second example comes from a period in the late 1980s/early 1990s, when I was particularly interested in how planets conjunct the Ascendant can tell a very literal story of the circumstances of a person’s birth. I was doing a horoscope reading for a young man who had a 1st-house Saturn very closely conjunct his Sagittarian Ascendant. “Were there restrictive circumstances of a physical or practical nature at the time of your birth?” I asked. “Oh yes!” he replied. “My mother broke her leg not long before I was born and gave birth to me whilst wearing a plaster cast.” But let’s not leave Neptune out, shall we? A friend with Neptune conjunct his Libran Ascendant was born in a fake castle.

What transit always shows up for you in surprising ways?
They all do, especially the long lasting ones. The deep challenges that force our growth lurk, unknown to us, in the realms of the unconscious, just waiting to hitch a ride on the nearest really tough transit. For example, I didn’t think that a ten-year period of constant Neptune transits was going to involve a serious family crisis, total burnout on my part, and an enforced descent into the Underworld for much of that period! However, the good news is that I have now emerged, much improved (unless you ask my husband!).

What advice would you give to someone learning how to read their own chart?
One, there are dozens of ways to evade personal responsibility, so resolve at the outset never to do so by blaming your horoscope or your transits for your difficulties in life.
Two, realise that objectivity is something to be aspired to and can never be achieved by mere human beings. This being the case, try to recognise that you can be most objective, and therefore most helpful, by reading the horoscopes of strangers, provided you have appropriate training and supervision. When approaching your own horoscope, or those of your loved ones, you will inevitably colour the planetary picture before you with your own hopes and fears.
Three, the illuminating light, which is gradually cast as your understanding of the symbols in your chart grows, will be wonderfully helpful in shedding light on your gifts, pains, motivations, and aspirations. But bear in mind that possessing astrological knowledge has a shadow side; for example, I have never known anyone, including myself, who didn’t look at upcoming transits, especially of Saturn and Pluto, without a certain amount of fear.

To help my astrology students with this, I used to point out that 99.9% of the human race, from the beginning of time, has managed to stagger through life without the aid of personal astrology! So, enjoy the fascination of deciphering the astrological map of your life, but don’t get too precious about it. And be aware that this wonderful knowledge has a double edge.

What astrology books do you re-read or use the most?
The two astrologers who have most inspired and educated me have been Liz Greene and the late Charles Harvey, with both of whom I was fortunate to study — unofficially from the mid-1980s and formally between 1995 and 1998. As reference books for my interest in mundane astrology, my three favourites are: The Outer Planets and their Cycles by Liz Greene; Anima Mundi – The Astrology of the Individual and the Collective by Charles Harvey, and Mundane Astrology by Michael Baigent, Nicholas Campion, and Charles Harvey.

My copy of Steven Arroyo’s Astrology, Karma and Transformation, that wonderful in-depth companion on the “stormy journey of the soul,” is now so well-thumbed that it is starting to fall to bits. And when I feel like reading some outrageous, light-hearted, funny, but deadly accurate astrological analysis, I turn to Debbi Kempton-Smith’s Secrets from a Stargazer’s Notebook.

However, accompanying re-engagement with work as an astrologer and teacher, I am now moving into re-framing my relationship with astrology in keeping with the “new paradigm…. emerging in Western civilisation, led by transpersonal psychology, chaos and general evolution theories, and the human potential movement . . . ,” in the words of Armand Diaz, a fine writer and the author of Integral Astrology, which I have recently reviewed. I have also greatly enjoyed reading Bernadette Brady’s book Astrology – a Place in Chaos, which also re-contextualises astrology for the contemporary world. And, having been given The Archetypal Cosmos, by Keiron Le Grice, for Christmas, I am really looking forward to finding the time to read it!

Bio: Anne Whitaker is a writer and astrologer based in Glasgow, Scotland. She resumed her astrology practice part-time in May 2012 after a very long sabbatical. An extensive archive of her astrology articles can be found on Writing from the Twelfth House in the section Not the Astrology Column.
She can be contacted at info@anne-whitaker.com

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19 Responses to "Ask an astrologer a question….."

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  • Hello
    I am a Capricorn born January 18, 1970 in Siegburg Germany at 16:10 pm and I seem to always have some mighty struggles with Pluto. With Pluto in my Sixth house I have suffered and succeeded in the workplace but it has been so tough with so many changes.

    The only thing I can ask you is how does one react to a Pluto transit without losing it?

    • John

      many thanks for your challenging question! I cannot comment in detail on your personal chart outwith the privacy of a consultation – let me know if you’d like a recommendation for one of the best astrology consultants I know and I will put you in touch with her.

      However, in general terms I would say that you are doing pretty well with Pluto! You talk about ‘….mighty struggles with Pluto….’ but also say you have ‘….suffered and succeeded….’ in the place where Pluto resides in your horoscope.

      Uranus, Neptune and Pluto are what Howard Sasportas memorably calls “The Gods of Change” in his wonderful book on the transits of the outer planets, which I would recommend very highly to you. I have found that it helps to envisage those powerful, impersonal planetary forces as gods, and to try our best humbly to accept the challenges they bring us wherever they are in the Houses of our natal birth chart.

      Because we are mortal and limited by our human frailties and inadequacies, our relationship with Uranus, Neptune and Pluto is bound to be challenging and tough at times. I would say that in relation to Pluto, the god of the Underworld, bringer of symbolic death and rebirth through engaging with the depths and limits of our own power and the power of others, being engaged in mighty struggles where we suffer – but succeed – is (to use a banal expression!) par for the course…..

      Personally, I have Pluto in the Twelfth House conjunct most of my personal planets. It’s been a tough old ride with that lot! In my experience- and that of my clients and students over the years – facing the god, honouring its power, doing the best one can with its challenges with as much integrity and self-honesty as possible, is the way to go….

  • I enjoyed reading your post very much. Arroyo’s ‘Astrology, Karma and Transformation’ was the first astro book I ever bought as a twenty year old. A wonderful introduction to astrology. I find the syncronicities incredibly beautiful. I haven’t read any of Bradey’s books – the one you mentioned sounds intriguing. Thanks for a well written and informative post – so says the the woman with Sun/Uranus conjunction.

    • Many thanks for your kind words, Angela.

      The new discipline of archetypal cosmology is “at the centre of an emerging world view that reunifies psyche and cosmos, spirituality and science, mythology and metaphysics, enabling us to see mythic gods, heroes and themes in a fresh light….” as Kieron Le Grice puts it in ‘The Archetypal Cosmos’ which I have just begun to read.

      Whilst in my long Underworld retreat (or Neptunian meltdown, to put it more brutally!) I had the time to read widely and deeply, finding myself very excited by the work of many leading thinkers within the new emerging discipline: I’d recommend that you also investigate the writings of scientist Brian Swimme and philosopher/astrologer Richard Tarnas, to recommend two more pioneers in the evolution of the new paradigm slowly emerging.

      Go, Sun/Uranus conjunction woman! Lots more good reading out there!

  • Thanks for the comments and the suggested readings.i will read the books on the outer planets with great interest as I know from decades of watching them touch my angles or square the lights that these are the years (forget about months) of necessitated and facilitated change, removal, reconstruction and rebuilding.

    Having Uranus conjunct the Ascendant at birth (along with the North Node in Gemini) has meant being an agent of change in times of social turmoil. I was a Black Panther in the 60s. Don’t know what was going on Uranian at birth.

    Right now Neptune has been transiting my Midheaven (0* Pisces) and my novel about my Panther experience, Virgin Soul, will be published by Viking Press on April 22. So it’s been a very inspired time, yet full of emotional surprises emerging from my unconscious. For example, I dreamt this weekend of an old love that had left my life angrily 35 years ago. We never spoke again. In the dream, he appeared in several states of aging, gentle and smiling. I’ve seen his pix on the web so knew how he had aged, but the gentleness of the dream was very comforting.

    • Judi J

      glad that the comments and book recommendations have been of value to you. Also, many thanks for offering some of your unusual biography, and your dreams, in relation to Uranus rising and Neptune traversing that 0 Pisces Midheaven! It is through sharing the interweave between the planets and our lives that we ground our astrological understanding and improve our practice.

      May your book flourish!

  • Nan Bush’s comment on this post, and my reply, is over on the promo post I did for TMA blog and for TMA. Check it out, especially if you think you are too old to learn astrology….!
    http://anne-whitaker.com/2013/02/18/ask-an-astrologer-a-question/

  • Rebecca Reed says:

    I so enjoyed your post and the books you recommended. I agree that Saturn and Pluto transits are scary and foreboding, yet always somehow necessary for our personal growth.

    For an understanding of Pluto, Liz Greene’s “The Astrology of Fate,” is also an excellent source. (It is thrilling that you were able to study under her!) My Pluto is in the second house conjunct my Saturn. There have been a few devastating events in my life, but I have weathered them and come out much more self-reliant…. Thanks again for your thoughtful words.

    • Rebecca

      thank you for your kind words. Yes, I think that Liz Greene’s “The Astrology of Fate” is possibly her best book.

      And the Saturn/Pluto conjunction, as we both know having been born under it, is no walk in the park. But for helping us to forge self-reliance out of the white heat of trauma, there is nothing to beat it.

  • Linda Leinen’s comment on this post, and my reply, is over on the promo post I did for TMA blog and for TMA. Do check it out – apart from its being an interesting comment, Linda over at The Task at Hand
    is a wonderful writer with a deservedly large following. I think the depth and range of her writing would greatly appeal to TMA Blog followers!

    http://anne-whitaker.com/2013/02/18/ask-an-astrologer-a-question/

  • Brilliant post Anne and some of my favourite books listed there too although one is missing, “Jupiter Meets Uranus: from erotic bathing to stargazing” by your good self. I too have been stunned by the synchronicity in astrology at all levels and feel privileged and humbled to have its insights as I go through life.

    • Carole
      thank you for dropping by and for your kind words. Yes, as you say, the insights astrology provides are a rich treasure trove to be explored, and from which to benefit, one’s whole life long.

  • Ursula Godwin says:

    Dear Anne,
    Thanks for sharing your deep knowledge and experience. I am familiar with most of the authors you suggested – I even went to some of Liz’s workshops in Zürich in the eighties – and now I look forward to getting to know Armand Diaz’ work thanks to your suggestion.

    In regards to re-framing your relationship with astrology and its relationship to other disciplines what comes to mind is a subchapter in Eric Meyers’ “The Astrology of Awakening – Volume 1: Eclipse of the Ego”. There he writes about a hypothesis made by late Robert Blaschke that the conjunction between Uranus and the Moon’s North Node (a cycle of about 15,5 years) suggests “a clarification of the new astrological advances or movements that enter the collective imagination” at a specific time. Last time the conjunction took place on March 31, 2007 at 16 Pisces 07. Mercury was conjunct the duo, the Moon in opposition (conj. South Node) and Jupiter in square.
    Meyer’s writes: “The current phase is clarifying the relationship between astrology and spirituality”.

    Could it also be that the most effective und helpful way to apply Astrology during this current Pisces phase would be by blending it with and incorporating other disciplines, especially the knowledge of recent advances in scientific fields (locked in Mercury’s conj. with Uranus) and advances in transpersonal psychology (Moon conj. South Node in Virgo opposite Uranus/Mercury) – a seed to potentially unlock and integrate further our collective emotional intelligence?
    It is interesting to look back and compare what happened during past conjunctions of Uranus/North Node, for instance the one in Scorpio at 4 degree 29 on September 8, 1976. “It helped to make astrology a powerful tool for understanding the unconscious“, according to Eric Meyer. Think of the breakthrough works of Liz Greene, Stephen Arroyo, Donna Cunningham and many others of that time who have influenced future astrologers and psychologists.
    Interesting to observe are also your own personal planets in connection to the Uranus/North Node cycles. You are more likely drawn to a new direction of development if your personal planets are activated with the conjunction, I observed. I think with your cluster of planets in Pisces you are especially predestinated to play a role in the new developments during this new cycle.
    My personal birth Moon and the Moon of the current Uranus/North Node in Pisces cycle are on the exact same degree – and suddenly I can interpret astrological aspects intuitively. I feel the knowledge has been there for a long, long time and finally, I can tap into it and express it. Not an easy task for an analytical Virgo moon!

    • Ursula

      I appreciate this reflective and illuminating comment.I’m sure TMA blog readers will be most interested in what you have to say – I certainly am, and will try to acquire Eric Meyers’ “The Astrology of Awakening – Volume 1: Eclipse of the Ego” and read what he has to say. Certainly, what you quote re the Uranus/N Node cycle is worthy of more reflection and research. And many thanks for ‘putting flesh on the symbolic bones’ by sharing your own experience of the relevance of this cycle.

  • Anne,
    thank you. I had a similar experience when I first read my father’ chart. He was born with Cancer rising, Taurus Sun and Moon in Libra in the fourth house. He had only squares and oppositions to his Moon. The first 13 years of his life his paternal grandmother raised and adopted him…but the opposition to Pluto aided and abetted her. She told him that his biological father (her son) was his older brother and she was his mother. Whenever his biological mother would visit (before he knew whom she was) he would become ill.
    Your story is more inspirational. However, when I saw his natal chart for the first time, it filled me with much compassion and forgiveness (Sun in Scorpio squaring nodal axis, Saturn and Mars). I have been deeply respectful of astrology’s mysteries ever since (not like I needed much help).
    I’m a non-practicing attorney, so the joke we learn first in law school is ‘a lawyer who represents himself has a fool for a client’. As as astrologer, I have advisers, my name’s not Percival…
    Thanks, again.

    • quan cherry

      many thanks for this moving feedback. Whilst being very aware that most of the human race has muddled through without the aid of astrology, I feel a deep gratitude to have been led to its ancient, wise way of helping us to frame and at least partly understand not only our personal story, but also the story of where we came from – the family story usually being the one which next draws and compels us after we have begun to unravel our own personal one.

      You may also be interested, as a person who I infer has changed career, to know that I was very much pursuing another career when at the age of twenty-seven astrology most unexpectedly crossed my path. I did not know it then, but my progressed Sun was crossing the asteroid Urania in my First House….