On a social networking site, a member of a community I own asked me to answer questions that might interest you as well. The discussion took place over the period of a few days beginning on 30 October 2007. I’m going to express my thoughts as I stated them after the discussion before I actually share the discussion:
I learned astrology after getting ripped off by a man who claimed to be an astrologer and might have only had a few lessons. There’s a saying when you have just dabbled enough so you know the lingo, you “know just enough to be dangerous.” That would have been a great description for this guy.
As a result of my anger at being ripped off, I swore I would learn astrology enough to protect myself from jerks like that again and that if I ever became a professional astrologer, I was committed to teaching people the difference between “fluffy” astrology and the real McCoy.
My commitment remains the same today. “TA” (I’ve substituted TA as initials to retain his privacy.) was very patient with me, and I am very grateful to him for that. I had been quite skittish going into this debate as a result of several abuses I’d experienced through the last 4 years especially in this community. And the end result was a wonderful exercise in the thoughts I’ve tried to convey all these years here on the networking site where this discussion took place.
I hold TA in very high regard for his wisdom in guiding this debate with well-thought-out questions. Many aren’t necessarily the home-grown variety in the sense of his having thought them up. People have been thinking about and asking these questions for as long as I can remember (although some of those questions from that one site are laughable). But he was able to present his thoughts and to ask the questions in ways that could have the answers heard and the communications bridge open on both ends. As I said, I’m very grateful to him.
Where I have repeated a quotation by TA earlier in the text, the “Q” will be placed in parentheses.
Q: Astrology – Myth or Reality
“Superstition is to religion what astrology is to astronomy: the mad daughter of a wise mother” – Voltaire
That’s a big question guys. If it’s science lets analyze it or it’s mere a game of probability. Please don’t provide arguments based feelings, belief, traditions or personal experiences.
A: Astrology had been under the broader umbrella of astronomy. During the Middle Ages, after Dante questioned whether astrology was blasphemy or not (a reference to The Divine Comedy and Inferno), St. Thomas Aquinas investigated the subject because the popes were well-known customers of various practitioners of the metaphysical arts. I choose not to associate astrology as quickly with metaphysics because charts are calculated with mathematical formulae (based on algebra, trigonometry and physics) and because observation (using some degree of geometry) leading to hypothesis which further leads to theories–or further hypotheses–is required in order to analyze and interpret the charts, which are necessary for forecasting.
Now if you want to argue that astrology is based on “prediction,” you’ll find that I will vehemently reject “prediction” in favor of “forecasting.” While these two words may be the same word and meaning in any other language, in English–the common language of this community–they are distinctly different. Prediction is fate-based. Forecasting requires the understanding that free will plays a major role in this dynamic.
I have yet to see any of the metaphysical arts require the same kinds of detail. But your premise has nothing to do with the metaphysical arts, does it? You’ve directed your question specifically at astrology. No, it’s not myth. It is a reality, but it’s also not about fate rather about free will.
And in my reference to Dante and St. Thomas Aquinas, I’ll add that both men determined that astrology was not blasphemy at all as long as necromancy didn’t enter into the picture. This is consistent with teachings from the Old Testament, and I would suspect from the Quran as well.
If I am wrong about my belief that the Quran rejects astrology based on whether or not necromancy is used, my apologies. I admit to assumption in that statement. I have looked, on the other hand, quite closely at the Old Testament references to astrology, and the premise lies squarely with “necromancy.” Since Western astrology doesn’t use any form of necromancy in its understandings, analyses and interpretations–or in forecasting–there is no necromancy or reference to the relationship as understood by Biblical teachings and their firm rejections of astrology.
Q: Michelle, I’d like to thank you for your efforts, your response is very informative. The statement that caught my attention & made me re-read your posting was the ‘difference between prediction & forecast’. I checked your profile for details on this topic however I’d highly appreciate if you can answer my few queries. As far as astrology is concerned I am an skeptic, a sitting duck waiting to get converted (… just kidding).
These days the Internet has become so confusing that you are bombed with opinions on anything, there’s anti thesis for every thesis. That’s why I rely only on logic & proofs. Pls check this out http://www.khouse.org/articles/2002/414/
I have no problem in accepting astrology as something that define you, your characteristics, traits etc. & based upon these if you ‘forecast’ something with practical role of free will, that’s understandable to some extent. Another point is do you agree that it’s impossible to determine, predict the destiny???
And what Dante and St. Thomas Aquinas has said about it in relation with religion is limited to their religious concepts. As far as Quran is concerned it is against predictions etc. (You are entitled to your views moreover this forum is freestyle wrestling platform).
Now if you link astrology with ‘predictions’ it opens the Pandora box for several other things like necromancy for remedies. What do you have to say about it? What is your concept of Fate, Destiny?
Please enlighten me on these issues.
A: Thank you for your respectful reply.
I actually answered the questions to that 10 questions for astrologers not that long ago in another community. I’m going to copy and paste some of those answers in here now with my apologies for not simply rewriting the whole thing. I’ve modified some of the answers, however:
1. What is the likelihood that one-twelfth of the world’s population is having the same kind of day?
Slim to none. There are also far more personalities in the world than the 12 signs of the zodiac.
2. Why is the moment of birth, rather than conception, crucial for astrology?
Actually, this question isn’t quite accurate at all. The moment of conception is often determined to assist with chart rectification for accuracy in the birth time. Much can be gleaned from the PNE–Pre-Natal Epoch–by those who choose to read those charts. I have found the time of birth to be quite accurate in my hands, so I have stuck with that as my point of reference.
3. If the mother’s womb can keep out astrological influences until birth, can we do the same with a cubicle of steak?
Who says these are influences at all?
The cosmos doesn’t influence us at all. It’s a “road map” to the journey of our lives. It’s not about fate. It’s about making wise decisions based on the directions we have seen from the interactions of the heavens in their transits against the chart with which we were born. I see the chart as the energies inside us as the planetary symbolism shows. The planets don’t make us do a thing–and they don’t cause things to occur.
4. If astrologers are as good as they claim, why aren’t they richer?
You’ll note that I’m answering the questions, not the text. I trust that’s what you were expecting me to do?
Why does wealth have to enter into this? I didn’t become an astrologer to get wealthy. I became an astrologer, frankly, to teach people to avoid those who scam people out of their money. I was ripped off by someone who claimed to be an astrologer and didn’t know a thing several years ago and swore I was going to learn astrology so it wouldn’t happen again. I wasn’t expecting to become a professional astrologer. In fact, I fought against it. But I swore that if I ever did become a pro, I was going to do all in my power to teach people to recognize the difference between legitimate astrologers and the scam artists and hopefully to teach others to read their own charts so they aren’t in the dark.
5. Are all horoscopes done before the discovery of the three outermost planets incorrect?
No. Absolutely not. Lilly was one of the greatest astrologers, and he didn’t use Uranus, Neptune or Pluto. Astrological studies, in fact, were widely recognized and respected during the Middle Ages. Dante, for example, had graduated from the University of Bologna, the first European university to grant a chair for the subject. Western astrology and Indian astrology don’t always see eye to eye because of the philosophy
itself–fate versus free will–but there have been extremely accurate astrologers throughout the history of astrology which is a lot older than the discoveries of these three planets–Uranus, Neptune and Pluto.
For that matter, however, the sites that promote these ten questions make reference to “the three outermost planets,” however, the IAU declared at least a year ago that Pluto wasn’t a planet. I wonder whether Pluto was told. Do I care whether the IAU declared that Pluto wasn’t a planet? No. If I can make conclusions based on the interaction of Pluto’s travels with a natal chart, that’s going to be the most important focus for me when I’m looking at the chart–not whether or not the IAU now considers it a planet, some 77 years after its discovery. My understandings of Pluto, for example, are relevant to the studies I had. Someone else will use Mars and find similar relationships even though that individual doesn’t use Pluto at all. How that is, why that is, I don’t know. I didn’t study based on Saturn as the final planet, as Indian astrologers do. That doesn’t negate their work (i.e., the work of BV Raman). Since I haven’t studied and worked with Indian astrology as in depth as I have with Western astrology–and frankly, I doubt the length of the life I have left would enable me to know as much with Indian astrology as I do with Western astrology–all I have is based on my perceptions rather than equal knowledge of the two schools of thought.
Shakespeare wrote, “Who judges the sane sane but the sane? Who judges the insane insane but the sane?” If you are standing in one astrological school of thought and are trying to perceive whether the other school–or another astrologer—is as good or equal for you, but you don’t have the same understandings from the same school and experience, you can’t begin to understand from an equal point of view, and you will only be able to understand–or judge–from the perspectives you have. (The American Indian has a proverb that says, “Never judge a man till you’ve walked a mile in his moccasins.” This is in sync with my belief on this point.) This is something I’ve come to realize even in the years since I joined this site.
Just because I work with Western astrology doesn’t give me the right to say there is no logic or accuracy to Indian astrology. In fact, there is logic and accuracy with Indian astrology–even if I don’t agree with it, but my gripe against Indian astrology is based on remedies and the fate-based philosophy, not on the actual astrological teachings. I don’t believe you can look at a chart based on x being here and y being there, and therefore this is what kind of person you’ll find or what kind of conclusion will be made in terms of the transits. That I’m vehemently opposed to! But I’m opposed because it’s based on what appears to be declarations based on fate and remedies.
6. Shouldn’t we condemn astrology as a form of bigotry?
Huh? I’ve heard of a lot of questions that are filled with BS, but this is among the highest. It makes absolutely no sense to me!
7. Why do different schools of astrology disagree so strongly with each other?
Indian astrology, as I mentioned above, works with fate, the luminaries and planets through Saturn, Rahu and Ketu, and has stayed with the Sidereal zodiac and the constellations in the signs, which are calculated with the use of precession, based on the wobble of the earth about its axis at 23.4°. Western astrology works with free will, the luminaries and planets through Pluto and Chiron and has stayed with the Tropical zodiac and the planets in the signs. Precession, however, has created a 23.4° difference between the two schools of astrology. They are both correct and accurate in their calculations. Because precession occurred some 4000 years ago, there has been a difference in the perspectives of when the vernal equinox (northern hemisphere) took place. While Western astrology focuses on the vernal equinox at 0° Aries, the
calculation for Indian astrology (Sidereal zodiac) now places the vernal equinox at approximately 6 Pisces 45. The Aries ingress is located in the constellation of Pisces.
Therefore, it may seem as if there is confusion, but there is no confusion at all. It’s simply the two zodiacs–Sidereal versus Tropical–that appear to be coming from a point of disagreement.
The other form of disagreement is what I’ve stated above–based on declarations based on fate and remedies.
8. If the astrological influence is carried by a known force, why do the planets dominate?
Who says there is influence and domination of the cosmos and planets? I don’t.
9. If astrological influence is carried by an unknown force, why is it independent of distance?
10. If astrological influences don’t depend on distance, why is there no astrology of stars, galaxies, and quasars?
These last three questions ask the same thing as far as I’m concerned. I haven’t said anything about influence and domination, so what point is there here for me? I’ve specifically said the chart is a planetary symbolism of the energies inside any individual, nothing more.
I noticed, btw, that the page you directed me to is one that stems from Christian thought. I’m not a Christian, so the relevance eludes me although I have also been aware that you too seem to feel the same, that “what Dante and St. Thomas Aquinas have said about it in relation to religion is limited to their religious concepts.” My point for having brought up Dante and St. Thomas Aquinas, however, relates to the Old and New Testaments and several quotes from both, although I’ve looked more closely at the Old
Testament in re to this discussion than I have at the New Testament. Again, the rejection of astrology from all I’ve seen in both relates to necromancy and prophecy.
Since I reject the concept of fate in astrology, I would reject the concept of prophecy related to astrology since prophecy assumes fate.
The page began with “However, in the Old Testament it was a form of divination and a capital crime: practicing astrology was punishable by death!” This is a misinterpretation as far as I’m concerned because the quotes relate to necromancy and prophecy, not specifically to astrology. Astrology was noted specifically in relation to soothsaying and prophecy, not to the study of the stars/planets themselves and interpretation. If one makes conclusions based on fate, sure, I would agree then that it would be based on prophecy. One continues to have free will. When I read a chart, I make the forecast based on analysis and interpretation and free will because free will ultimately decides whether or not the astrologer will have guided the individual well. If one bases the conclusions of an astrologer on fate, then one has relinquished that free will and has concluded that the astrologer must be right as a result that x and y has occurred. But fate would have one believing that no matter what one does, x and y will occur. I reject that completely. When I guide the client with a reading, I am guiding him or her based on what I’m seeing, patterns from the individual’s own chart, patterns I see moving in that individual’s direction, and I advise that individual how best to handle the next sequence of events. It’s not set in stone. Not ever! If I see, for example, that it’s unwise for the individual to take a plane trip or to go into a bad neighborhood on such and such a day because of a particular transit focused on that chart, and the individual ignores me and goes, the individual was warned, yes. But the individual might have just as likely decided to change his/her plans and do something else more in line with the transits and energies I’ve noted.
We can go on an even longer discussion here related to fate versus free will, but perhaps this will distract from the discussion we’re already engaged in.
(Q) “I’d like to thank you for your efforts, your response is very informative. The statement that caught my attention & made me re-read your posting was the ‘difference between prediction & forecast’. I checked your profile for details on this topic however I’d highly appreciate if you can answer my few queries. As far as astrology is concerned I am an skeptic, a sitting duck waiting to get converted (… just kidding).”
I don’t mind that you’re a skeptic, but don’t ask me to convert you, TA. I am happy to share what I have as my own foundations of knowledge, but it’s yours to take or reject.
On the first part of that page you referenced, TA, the author points to the following, which I’ll elaborate on more than the author obviously has the capability of doing.
* Marital compatibility: Psychologist Bernard Silverman of Michigan State University analyzed birth dates of 2978 couples who were getting married and 478 who were getting divorced. There were no correlations with predicted compatibility.
If some psychologist with birth dates of 2978 couples getting married and 478 getting divorced simply looked at the birth dates and expected to come up with his own conclusions about “predicted” compatibility, shame on him for being so naive and downright ignorant in his study! He wasted time and somebody’s money and needs to have his own head examined. He can talk to me if he’d like to know how these things are done, and I’ll be happy to take the next 20 years in teaching him all I know of this subject if we’re both going to be around that long. Then he can do the study again and find the correlations of compatibility or not in the subsequent study.
* Shawn Carlson of Lawrence Berkeley Laboratory provided horoscope information and a standard California Personality Inventory for groups of volunteers to 28 professional astrologers (procedure approved in advance) to match each horoscope to one of three profiles submitted. The random expectation of 34% was achieved.
Was this another form of horoscope? I’d be interested in knowing who those astrologers were, their credentials and their knowledge of astrology before believing in these results. Would I submit to such a study? No. Why? Because too many astrologers–or would be astrologers–who think they know what they’re doing (don’t take this as an ego-based statement), don’t. They ask too many questions during the reading, they hesitate and don’t really know what they’re doing because they’ve learned via what I call cookbook astrology. If you really know how to interpret a chart, you aren’t going to rely on a cookbook. You’re going to know the subject intimately enough to be able to understand what you’re seeing of the individual you’re reading. I don’t want a profile submitted to me. Just give me the chart and let me read it enough that the individual knows I know him/her well enough to discuss what else I’m seeing. If the individual sees I know to that degree, that should be far more important than whether or not the study declares it so. (No, I’m not inviting anyone to offer for a free interpretation. We’re in a discussion.)
* French statistician Michel Gauquelin sent the horoscope for one of the worst mass murderers in French history to 150 people and asked how well it fit them. 94% said they recognized themselves in the description.
That’s not surprising, but the Gauquelins were statisticians, not astrologers. They did many studies, and the researchers who attempted to box these studies into neat little packages were using APA prescribed methods to determine the logic within. There are 25828 years (approximately) between any moment in time when the cosmos was forming certain patterns and degrees and minutes and any other moment in time when the cosmos will return to those precise patterns, degrees and minutes. While the patterns may seem alike, that is not necessarily going to be the case. You can have two people with two distinctly different charts, showing different patterns that will bring you to the same conclusions. Why? I don’t know. I read and call a chart like I see it. I can read two charts that look almost identical and have them completely different. Same thing to me.
Isn’t this kind of like the kaleidoscope with which a child plays? You see similar repeating patterns, but that doesn’t make it so. [Michel] Gauquelin wasn’t, as I recall, an actual astrologer. I’d be interested in knowing who analyzed those charts or if Michel happened to use a computer-generated analysis. I find that abhorrent. The computer can generate a general forecast or even a general analysis and interpretation. It often repeats the things it sees in various parts of that report. Many astrologers use computer-generated reports. I think it’s unethical, lazy and nothing more than a con because it boils down to the astrologer who hasn’t really learned what s/he claiming to be able to read.
* Geoffrey Dean, an Australian researcher, reversed the astrological readings of 22 subjects: 95% identified themselves with the reversed readings.
I don’t even understand what this person is reporting here. A 95% identification based on a mere 22 subjects doesn’t say much either for that matter. What the readings were and what was being identified as true or not remains untold in this reference. What’s the point of saying this if there’s no meat here? Give me something to see. Otherwise, it becomes a he said, she said scenario similar to “when did you stop smoking grass?” lol Sorry, but I found this particular point downright silly.
* Astronomers Culver and Ianna tracked the published predictions of well-known astrologers and astrological organizations for five years. Out of 3000 predictions, only 10% came to pass.
lol! See the word? “Prediction.” What kinds of “predictions?” Were they based on Sun signs? Were they based on actual charts? What kinds of charts? Natal, returns, mundane? This says nothing either. “Published predictions.” That smacks of Sun signs to me.
Again, where’s the meat here?
Q: I have no problem in accepting astrology as something that defines you, your characteristics, traits etc. & based upon these if you ‘forecast’ something with practical role of free will, that’s understandable to some extent.
A: We seem to be on the same page here, TA.
Q: Another point is do you agree that it’s impossible to determine, predict the destiny???
A: Of course! That’s called fate, not free will.
Q: And what Dante and St. Thomas Aquinas has said about it in relation with religion is limited to their
religious concepts. As far as Quran is concerned it is against predictions etc. (You are entitled to your
views moreover this orkut forum is freestyle wrestling platform).
A: We’re still on the same page.
Q: Now if you link astrology with ‘predictions’ it opens the Pandora box for several other things like
necromancy for remedies. What do you have to say about it?
A: My point exactly. If one believes in prediction and therefore fate, one may think there is a need for “remedies” to “overcome” supposedly horrible things or to protect oneself from bad influences. What
hogwash! I mean no disrespect to anyone who thinks like that, but we are capable of living life without
fearing that the sky is going to fall on us at x time, or that we don’t stand a chance of getting a particular
job because we’re useless and worthless unless we use this or that prescribed remedy.
I’m not attempting to belittle the concepts themselves, but I am trying to point out that the things we may hate in ourselves–being too stubborn, for example–may be the very things that enable us to succeed in our lives. We all have traits that are good and bad as we see them. That makes us human, not Superman or some perfect creature. We aren’t going to be perfect because we’re not God, whatever our concept of God may or may not be.
We are the way we are because we’re made that way. We can choose to work with the tools we have to achieve successes in our lives, or we can wallow in self-pity because we see those tools as harmful. We are the masters of our lives. It’s up to us what we do with our lives, and not fate-based concepts like “you’re going to die on x day” or “you’re going to marry this person named so-and-so on such and such a day.” Many astrologers, I’ve heard, have forecast that they were going to die on such and such a day, and the day came and went, and they were still around–or simply vanished from the public eye.
For what??? To prove that they don’t know it all? To prove that they have to hide in shame for having had the audacity to have lived??? lol There’s no way I’m going to be one of them! My life will end when it ends–and heaven knows, if there’s another future husband in the wings, I hope he’s better than the last one, or he too will be out the door!
This leads to another part of my thinking about Indian astrology, again not meant with disrespect: Many Indian astrologers apparently don’t charge for their services. But these astrologers may advise people to return to pay x amount of money for gemstones or some kinds of remedies. I charge for my services because my time is being used, and I have the right to survive just as everyone else does. But there are no hidden things–no gemstones, no remedies. The client knows, going in, precisely what s/he will pay, and s/he knows that will be the fee. Period. I find the gemstones and remedies on top of the astrological readings a devaluation of the astrologer’s time, as if his/her time isn’t worth anything, but the gemstones and remedies are. That will never compute into realism to me.
I’ve probably told you more than you expected, TA. If I have, forgive me. I’m really trying to give you some well-rounded thought.
Q: What is your concept of Fate, Destiny?
A: If there is something called “fate,” “destiny,” it’s not for me to read. That’s between me and my concept of a Higher Power. As far as I’m concerned, I’m going to do the best I can with my life, using my chart to the best of my abilities, using my gifts as best I can to help others or to enrich others’ lives in a myriad of ways that will range from my knitting or baking or making Pakistani curried chicken or a Chinese meal or an Italian meal–or helping my clients when they call on me to help, or writing another
book on any number of subjects–and generally doing what I can to make the world a better place. That’s free will, not fate. I refuse to accept that everything that has been and everything that will be is set in stone for me. I also refuse to accept that if a tragedy befalls me, that it is related to some horrible thing I might have done in a previous life. Since I don’t remember having done that horrible thing, what would be the point of punishing me in this life? Nope. Can’t accept that.
I don’t know that I believe in fate or destiny at all, TA. I know I don’t in relation to astrology. My focus is on doing what’s right in this world, on making this world a better place to be however I can help in doing so, and in striving to do my best in my life, however that may be defined. I believe in being good in this life because we’re supposed to be good in this life. Whether or not there is a next life or a life beyond, none of us really know that answer. All we have is what we’re doing now, today, this moment, and the plans we may have for our tomorrows. If we live according to what we believe is true and good and right, now and tomorrow, then if there is a next life or a life beyond, we’ll certainly have attained that at the same time we’ve lived a life worth living–and a future, however that is defined, worth achieving as well.
My apologies for the length of this. You cut open a vein and I spilled.
Q: Michelle, now with this kind of a response, concern, precision, efficiency and humility if you’d start a religion today you’d be very successful prophet. That’s the kind of approach that turns a simple chat into a great conversation.
A: I hope that wasn’t pointed sarcasm directed at me. I’m not looking nor do I want to be proclaimed a “prophet.” Such labels are best placed on people seeking such things. You pointed to a page, and I responded to the material I saw on that page. Nothing more.
Q: Michelle, I sincerely thank you for your time & effort you’d put in to reply me. What I have written above about you is not sarcasm at all, I chose those words to appreciate your endeavor. In fact this is the most sensible argument I’ve come across in favor of astrology. It has definitely mellowed down my opinion towards ‘Western’ astrology. You are the first person who is giving a practical role to Free Will in this field & that changes the whole perspective.
Now coming back to our discussion I have last (I hope so) three questions which sprang out of your answers: –
1. I admit my ignorance towards the technicalities & advance astrology I’d request you to elaborate on your concept. How do you explain ‘neutrality of cosmos’ & the way it affect the ‘road map’ to the journey of our lives, if the cosmos/planets doesn’t influence/affect us than how come their movements can guide us or how can we be benefited by their changing positions?
2. The approach which you have towards Western astrology is your own? Do you follow it as per the book? Or have you personalized it?
3. If Indian astrology also has logic & accuracy how come they have this supplementary concept of Predictions & Remedies? (My point is: – there has to be some scope for this concept in the fundamentals & structure of Indian astrology otherwise how come almost every Indian astrologer is exploiting on this basis).
Regarding the surveys & studies mentioned in your reply I agree with you about the lack of details sought, the number of samples taken & their methodology etc is not proper but it seems to be a fitting reply to the concept of contemporary astrology prevalent in the world. I am from India & I know that here people wear their beliefs on their sleeves, they can & they do whatever is thrown at them in the name of religion, tradition & mysticism. Since astrology is perceived as science it cannot be faulty. I mean you don’t have to be too humble, at times you have to call a spade by its original name. Healthy criticism helps.
And Michelle, let me mention it once again; this dialogue with you has been such a wonderful experience that I long for another session on any topic anytime.
A: (Q) “Michelle, I sincerely thank you for your time & effort you’d put in to reply me. What I have written above about you is not sarcasm at all, I chose those words to appreciate your endeavor. In fact this is the most sensible argument I’ve come across in favor of astrology. It has definitely mellowed down my opinion towards ‘Western’ astrology. You are the first person who is giving a practical role to Free Will in this field & that changes the whole perspective.”
Thank you for taking time to explain this, TA. A variety of people have repeatedly attacked me over the last several years, so I admit to heightened sensitivity.
(Q) “1. I admit my ignorance towards the technicalities & advance astrology I’d request you to elaborate on your concept. How do you explain ‘neutrality of cosmos’ & the way it affect the ‘road map’ to the journey of our lives, if the cosmos/planets doesn’t influence/affect us than how come their movements can guide us or how can we be benefited by their changing positions?”
I think the best description of the cosmos is that road map. A paper road map we’re using on a road trip won’t influence or affect us based on our decision to take a journey. That road map offers us a means of traveling wherever our hearts desire. If we choose to go from point A, where we are at present, to point B, where we would like to go, the road map serves as a guide that points out which may be the best routes–but it will also point out alternative routes based on the massive variety of tributary roadways.
We decide which route is best for that journey perhaps because the map offers tips that there will be road construction and detours on another route. We may choose a particular other path because of the scenic offerings along that path. We may also think we want to go via a particular route and be disappointed and have to double back a bit to get on another path we find better. That paper road map is also neutral. It offers choices of what’s there.
I know. How does this relate to the study of the heavens? I don’t know why the heavens are there, but any of us who have lain in the grass on a summer’s night, gazing up at the stars, watching a shooting star dance across the black skies sprinkled with the jeweled sparkles of the stars themselves, know the beauty of the cosmos and the magical moments a child experiences when looking up there. Maybe it’s the same for some of us, myself included, who have fun seeing the images the clouds form on a sunny day with cumulus clouds painting the otherwise blue skies.
Thousands of years ago, people developed their concepts of day and night–and of sunrise and sunset–based on the rise and set of the Sun and the Moon. Cultures developed their calendars based on the rise and set of the Sun and Moon. The Egyptians developed a marvelous system of farming based on what appeared to be timing, like a clock of the year, because of signs they observed in the skies. As the constellations traveled through the heavens, early astronomers and astrologers discovered that seasonal changes correlated to the shift of those constellations and the planets within. Were we directly affected by those shifts? Were we directly affected by the 23.4° tilt caused by the wobble of the earth about its axis some 4000 years ago? The development of the daily clock, the calendar, the seasons and so on–these were all based on observations of the heavens. They didn’t affect us directly other than showing us as uneducated observers, at first, when day and night were upon us so we knew when a religious holiday or ritual was here again. The discovery of eclipses–while they may still instill fear in some people even today–created fear in those early observers. Superstitions were even built about those fears–from a giant flaming dragon eating the Moon.
(Q) “2. The approach which you have towards Western astrology is your own? Do you follow it
as per the book? Or have you personalized it?”
I’m not quite sure I understand how you’re intending to use the word “approach” here. Are you speaking about the free will philosophy, or about the way I read a chart? The concept of free will associated with Western astrology has been around many many years. Max Heindel, born in 1865, was one of many who used the adage I have often paraphrased to read, “The stars impel, they don’t compel. You have free will.” But through the years, and I said this as recently as two years ago, I think, my belief about free will and what’s going on with the cosmos has evolved into my realization that the “stars” don’t even impel much less compel us. They simply have nothing to do with our motivation. But they are relevant to us in terms of the symbolism they offer in that road map.
I know you’re not trying to be flip, TA, when you ask whether I “follow it as per the book.” My answer, however, may come across as flip, and I’m not trying to do that. If you mean that literally, “per the book,” I’d have to answer no because there are many books and many techniques and concepts offered in Western astrology, and the methodology is always being examined for better techniques and concepts. I speak, for instance, of working with the heartbeat of the chart. It’s my own term, although someone recently mentioned to me that they had read it by someone in one of the astrological magazines. I don’t even remember the name of the person mentioned. But it’s an idea, and ideas can’t be copyrighted, only the way in which it’s described and written about. I’m not worried if another astrologer wants to take credit for the phrase, “heartbeat of the chart.” Whether or not this other astrologer even uses it in the same way I do, I haven’t a clue.
I also speak of total integration astrology, and this too is something I’ve not seen in use by other astrologers. They work with synthesis; but from what I see, not to the degree I do, nor do they teach it as early as I teach it. So I suppose you could say I’ve personalized it. But again, are you speaking about “approach” based on philosophical perspectives, or about the analysis and interpretation of the chart?
For what it’s worth, TA, I’m not one who follows anything on blind faith. What I believe in has to ring true for me personally, and it has to be about as consistent as possible in order for me to believe it.
(Q) “3. If Indian astrology also has logic & accuracy how come they have this supplementary concept of Predictions & Remedies? (My point is: – there has to be some scope for this concept in the fundamentals & structure of Indian astrology otherwise how come almost every Indian astrologer is exploiting on this basis).”
I accept that Indian astrology is accurate in calculation. I don’t necessarily accept that what the Indian astrologers use to determine things is based on logic. For me, their conclusions are not logical. As I explained in one of the earlier frames, “I don’t believe you can look at a chart based on x being here and y being there, and therefore this is what kind of person you’ll find or what kind of conclusion will be made in terms of the transits.” This community has seen some Indian astrologers do just that, and it absolutely sent chills up my spine. (Similarly, I’ve had experiences with Western astrologers that have produced the same reactions, btw.) You absolutely, positively cannot make conclusions based on one simple aspect in a chart! There are always, always confirming points especially for major traits.
A good example, for instance, was when a young Washington political intern Chandra Levy vanished a few years back. Her body was later found. But Levy had a particular aspect in her chart that had one astrologer declare something very emphatically with what appeared to be moral judgment about her behavior based solely on that one aspect. I lit into the astrologer because there was no confirming proof in the chart. My chart happens to have the same aspect.
Now, you asked about prediction and remedies, so I’ll go on. One can “predict” all one wants, but that’s no guarantee that things will happen in the way one predicted. The native for whom the astrologer is reading
–if s/he recognizes that s/he is in possession of free will–has the opportunity to reject what the astrologer is seeing and to reconsider his/her behavior to ensure a different outcome. I believe strongly, however, that when an astrologer states unequivocally that x will happen on this date or close to that date, the native is in danger of becoming careless with his/her attitudes because s/he believes nothing can be done. Further, it’s enough to scare many people into a panic and then, of course, the astrologer has the opportunity to declare, “But not to worry! I have a remedy that will remove the negativity of this transit” or of the natal aspect supposedly causing the problem. Fear is a powerful tool. I know what it’s like to be scared into submission and think there are no alternatives. The perfect tool for the con: scare them into submission, and they will pay anything to prevent the event from occurring. Sorry. I can’t buy that.
Again, I don’t see the need for Indian astrologers to insist that this so-called negativity must be eliminated or overcome. Some things, dressed in one way, may indeed appear to be negative; but in the right situation, those very things can turn into gold mines so to speak. We use the tools of our charts to their most productive. That’s what the astrologer should be teaching the client to do. We focus on the upcoming transits that will reveal more understanding about the evolution of someone’s emotions, feelings and thoughts, and we work with the client to understand better how to use those tools given to him/her at birth. We don’t play hocus pocus and expect something inherent to the individual to vanish because of a gemstone, a talisman or a remedy! (Again, I mean no disrespect to those here who believe in Indian astrology. I’m being asked questions, and I’m speaking from the heart.) I believe this is an inherent difference between the philosophies of both schools.
(Q) “Regarding the surveys & studies mentioned in your reply I agree with you about the lack of details sought, the number of samples taken & their methodology etc is not proper but it seems to be a fitting reply to the concept of contemporary astrology prevalent in the world. I am from India & I know that here people wear their beliefs on their sleeves, they can & they do whatever is thrown at them in the name of religion, tradition & mysticism. Since astrology is perceived as science it cannot be faulty. I mean you don’t have to be too humble, at times you have to call a spade by its original name. Healthy criticism helps.”
(Q) “And Michelle, let me mention it once again; this dialogue with you has been such a wonderful experience that I long for another session on any topic anytime.”
Q: I wanted to know exactly how do you work on charts, what do you forecast?
A: What I forecast really depends on what kind of reading I’m doing. If I’m looking at the coming month, I do a Lunar Return. If I’m looking at the broader focus of the coming year, I do a Solar Return. Others simply want me to help them to understand themselves a bit better, and still others have me look at their progressions–or at their relationship with someone (business or romantic). Each calls for a different chart and look, but all of them start with the natal chart because that is the foundational point of any individual reading.
Q: Please take your time & reply.
A: Thank you again, TA. I’ve also enjoyed the conversation.