The story of how I discovered astrology and how it has helped me make sense of things for myself and for others.
I remember the first time I saw a sky full of stars. It was a bitterly cold winter’s night in a field near Bristol. It was so amazing, I just lay on the ground and took it all in, aware that I was lying on the surface of a planet with all around me the unfathomable universe.
I was also aware that people throughout the ages had gazed at the sky, whether from desert, mountain top or polar ice – all had gazed and wondered and for an instant, a brief instant before my rational mind kicked back in, I was one with all of them.
Then there was the first astrology book I bought. We’re talking about the late 1960s when there was hardly anything in print, unlike now. It was in a second-hand bookshop in Brighton and it explained how to construct and read a birth-chart – a horoscope. I did my own chart first of course and I realised that there was more to astrology than just knowing your sun sign. Here was a tool for making sense of my life.
For example you buy a new piece of equipment, a new mobile phone, a juicer or whatever and there’s an instruction manual that tells you how it works, how to operate it safely, the bits you need to clean, how to recharge the battery and so on. But there was no instruction manual for my life. You just get born into some sort of family and that’s it! You handle it as best you can.
But when I read my birth-chart it was like reading the instruction manual. Why I’ve got such a short fuse for example, why music has such a profound effect on me, why I’m fascinated by other cultures but such a lousy traveller, why I’m into stuff like astrology, even the type of people I’m attracted to.
And it wasn’t just putting me in a box of “all people born under the sign of Virgo are like this or that”. Apart from the sun sign, there’s also the rising sign, the moon, and all the other planets that have their say in making us the incredibly complex and unique individuals that we all are.
And you’re not just stuck with one static picture of who you are. The chart unfolds over time, mapping how we grow and change and hopefully become more conscious and clearer about how we function in relation to others and eventually find our place in the world.
I knew then that’d I’d be totally useless as a newspaper astrologer. Now don’t get me wrong, some of them are pretty good. But for me it’s too general. You’re talking about one twelfth of the human race when you dare to say what’s going to happen to a particular sun sign. I was more interested in the deep stuff, using astrology to empower people and help them make sense of themselves.
I mean we have so many pressures in this life. Pressures from school and parents with their expectations and their images of us and their dreams of our success which may in fact have nothing to do with our true nature. And then there’s the pressure to make a living, to have a career even, to get married to a suitable partner, to have children because it’s expected or in order to carry on the family name. And buffeted around by all these external forces we lose the inner sense of who we are and what we really want.
This is my understanding of “gain the world and lose your soul”.
Then maybe there’s a crisis, a turning point. A time when it’s no longer enough. The safe path we’ve laid out for ourselves is no longer so certain. Maybe there’s a feeling of being trapped. There are decisions to be made but our options feel limited. That’s the time when many people consult an astrologer.
“What’s going to happen?” they ask. Sorry, but that’s the wrong question. That question supposes we just sit around passively waiting for the future to happen to us. A good astrologer is not a fortune teller. A good astrologer will explore with you how you have got to your present situation, how you have created your reality. A good astrologer will not advise you or make your decisions for you but will share their insights gained from the positions and cycles of the planets and look with you at the lessons to be learned.
In this way a good astrologer will empower you, maybe help you shift the attitudes that are holding you back, open your options so that you can face your situation with greater clarity and make that crucial decision based on your own inner wisdom and insight.
You see it’s nothing to do with predicting the future. It’s more like unravelling the current situation to find the threads that have led you to where you are and the threads that lead you on. More about putting you back in touch with your intuition, reminding you of who you are if you have forgotten, if you have been pushed by life into being untrue to yourself.
Then I learned to compare charts. It’s fascinating to see how the energies of two complex, unique individuals interact with each other, not just those in an intimate relationship, but parent/child or business partners. Every chart I have done has been a learning experience for me as much I hope for my clients.
A child is going through a difficult time. Is it just the time which means it will change or is it something to do with moving from Canada to the UK which suggests that the astrological configuration of the UK is just too difficult for that child to handle?
A woman has a new boyfriend. The sex is marvellous but she feels he is blocked when it comes to communicating. She needs to learn to back off, to respect his privacy, to rein in her need to intellectually understand and analyse every emotion. Can she do that? If not, she will drive him away.
A man feels frustrated and undervalued in his job. We compare his chart with the chart of his company and look at the points of agreement and conflict to help him with his decision of whether to stay or go. Subsequently he decides to change job and we look at the timing of the move.
So if you’re interested in astrology and you want to get further into it, the place to begin is to understand your own chart and through that the energies of the planets and the meanings of the signs and houses. To some extent you can do that from a book or from a computer printout. But really the best way is to talk it through face to face with an experienced astrologer.