My hope is that this brief set of considerations sheds some light for the astrological enthusiast into some of the inner workings of astrology, in a way that helps create a more solid footing with regard to the shape of astrology today, so that it can be navigated with more purpose, clarity, and enjoyment. Also, this is by no means an exhaustive list, but a primer.
Traditional astrology is alive today, and it’s spreading its branches.
Sometimes it is also called Classical astrology. There are different points of view on what time frames, places, and authorities constitute traditional astrology. For our purposes here consider the distinction between the most popular mainstream astrology — the kind that you’d likely find if you googled for more information on the Full Moon, or for information about a natal aspect that you have. That is the open door through which most people are introduced to astrology today.
While that kind of astrology, sometimes called modern astrology, is more fluid, traditional astrology is almost universally headier. It involves more diverse toolset of technical ways of analyzing the birth chart. While it can make psychological observations, it is generally not as psychologically oriented. The outer planets, Uranus, Neptune, and Pluto — do not rule signs and are often less emphasized in traditional astro.
You should know this because it is becoming more likely that you will encounter a traditional astrologer in the years and decades to come. This is also important to know because there is often a split in the modern and traditional astrological styles of doing astrology. The split can show up in worldview of the astrology you consume, in house system your astrologer uses, and in the kind of reading you can expect your astrologer to give you when you request one from them.
Your astrologer has a worldview.
This is just like in anything else. The astrologer embodies a particular perspective. Each astrologer brings their life experiences, personal development, personal opinions, and distinct astrological training to their astrological work, whether that be astrological communications online or in a service they provide. A practiced astrologer will be sensitive to their audience and the differences in belief among their clients. The astrological enthusiast should be aware that different astrologers practice and share astrology differently.
Astrology is richly layered. There are many possible things to discuss when it comes to any given astrological aspect
I’ve often noticed in horoscope columns shared online, and also here on this blog, people sometimes make comments about something they believe the astrologer excluded or neglected to mention in their astrological writing.
To illustrate this point I want to direct your attention to the practice of dentistry. I met a dentist recently who’d been 30 or 40 years in practice, who told me his first major in college was Fine Art. Today, he said, he practices the Fine Art of Dentistry. He said to me that dentistry is more like an art than a science, and each dentist will make slightly different recommendations and take different courses of action based on their experience and personal judgement.
Similarly, if the astrologer you are reading, watching, or listening to is sharing about, for example, the psychological depth of Mercury conjunct Pluto in Capricorn aspect, and they wax on about the nuance of that feature of the aspect, but they don’t mention things like power in communication, or manipulative communication, or profound and relentless digging for the core essence of an issue, or the fact that it is happening in a cardinal sign….
It’s not necessarily the case that the astrologer is unaware of these components of the aspect, it’s just that, for that particular analysis, they are choosing to focus on and share about something else.
Astrology is richly layered. To cover every angle of any aspect would take pages and books and time. This is what makes it such a perfect subject for contemplative practices, and why it can speak to the diverse complexities of our lives with such facility.
There are different branches within astrology.
And some branches have a sub-branch. Most readers are familiar with natal astrology — using a person’s time, place, and date of birth to analyze their birth chart. This is probably the most popular form of astrology today, giving people insight into themselves, others, and the arc of their lives in ways that can be healing.
Mundane astrology – The use of astrology to study countries and cities.
Horary astrology – The use of astrology to answer a question, like will I get the job, or will we get back together.
Electional astrology – The use of astrology to choose an ideal time to undertake a course of action, like starting a business or getting married.
There is also financial astrology, relationship astrology, and branches within branches like evolutionary astrology under the natal astrology heading, and Renaissance astrology under the traditional astrology heading.
Different astrologers use different tools to analyze your birth chart. Every astrologer has their own style.
In the context of a natal chart reading, it is more than likely that two different astrologers will approach the chart and the session in two different ways. For this reason when seeking a reading it is important to understand what you are looking for. Do you want a look at the energetic trends of the year ahead? Do you want to focus on a specific issue in the course of your session, in hopes that astrological insight will help you toward resolving it? Do you want a personality analysis? Do you want to understand an event from your past through the lens of astrology? Do you want a relationship reading? Are you fixed on having your chart read with a certain house system? Do you definitely want a psychological approach to be brought into your session? Do you have a specific sensitivity or skillset that you want your astrologer to possess, like sensitivity to gender, or the ability to profect or progress your chart?
While it does lie in the hands of the professional astrologer to communicate the type of reading style they provide, the astrological reader and client also has some responsibility in knowing what they are looking for, if anything, and to look into which astrologer can offer what they want.
First Image: Annunciation by Simon Bening. 1525-1530.
All following images are costume designes by Guiseppe Arcimboldo. 1585.