I had lunch the other day with a well-respected and very experienced astrologer, who also writes. Our conversation was pretty intense since we’d never met before and we have a lot in common, especially when it comes to thinking about how to do good, authentic astrology.
We had to fit in a lot of ideas between the pierogi and the cheesecake.
Here are just three talking points.
WRA: “How do you feel about country charts?”
Me: “You mean like nativities for countries?”
WRA: “Yes, I’m always very dubious about those.”
I was a bit surprised. She writes a lot about politics and world affairs.
Me: “Why’s that?”
WRA: “How do we really know what time a country is born? Or even what day?”
Well, she’s right, of course. How do we know? And how do we choose the chart?
Unfortunately, a lot of the time, the answer seems to be: I chose this chart because another astrologer said so, or I chose this chart because it makes the ideas I have about this country seem true.
Me: “Whenever I can I start from zero, rethinking the chart. So for example for Egypt and Greece, I’ve drawn up charts based on my own knowledge of history and experience of the countries…” I paused to insert some cabbage into my mouth.
To me there are two important tests that a country’s chart has to pass before I choose to use it. The first one is this: does it make sense historically? And the second is does it work? I think you also have to take into account any dates that are celebrated by the people who live in that country, and give those more weight than, say, colonial powers.
Me: “But I see what you mean. Why do we use 1801 as the UK chart? Historically, it should really be the 1922 chart, when the Irish Republic was formed, yet here we all are using the 1801 chart…”
WRA: “How do you feel about horary?”
Horary astrology is when you cast a chart in answer to a specific question. Renaissance astrologers probably did more horary than anything else. One of the English astrologer William Lilly’s most famous examples of a chart is one in answer to the question: Who stole the fish?
Me (uncomfortably, because this response is unfashionable): “I think it’s fortune-telling…”
WRA (briskly): “It’s never worked for me. And besides, is it a good use of astrology? Do we go through all those years of figuring out how the planets feel and work and move in order to find out who stole the fish?”
WRA: “You’ll find your relationship with astrology changes as you grow older.”
Me: “Well, I’ve needed to gain quite a lot of life experience before I felt ready to out myself as an astrologer..”
WRA: “We need to know we might be wrong. Astrologers need humility. Being humble is the most important thing for an astrologer.”
I think, on reflection, I concur.