The idea that the stars might somehow determine the course of our lives without any say on our part is an unsettling one. It is also a common misconception about astrology.
This ancient subject can be immensely helpful for dealing with all kinds of challenges.
An astrological consultation is a problem-solving conversation with the aid of a chart.
This exchange imaginatively and realistically opens up possibilities rather than laying down some kind of inescapable life sentence.
After all, why bother with astrology if all it does is tell you what is going to happen and there is nothing you can do about it?
It all starts with the chart
The basic idea of astrology is that the planets above us in the sky act as a great big mirror to life on earth.
An astrological chart is a symbolic map of the planets in time and space, at a particular moment in time.
The chart can provide a huge amount of extremely valuable information and insight about the chart owner and what is happening for them, at any given time.
Individuals, organisations, countries and events can all have their own charts.
What aN astrological chart looks like
Here is a simplified chart for when this blog post was published. It is a snapshot of the planets as if you were looking up at the sky in London at noon on 27 March 2016.
Do you see Venus? She is right next to the arrow in area 9 on the inner circle.
The other nine main astrological planets are also shown.
All their planetary positions are astronomically correct because the chart has been calculated using an ephemeris, or planetary timetable.
The planets are shown against the zodiac, an imaginary circle rooted in star constellations and their mythology.
Imagination and science both have their place in astrology.
Correspondence is the name of the game
Each of the ten core planets is a symbol for a basic theme in life.
Their arrangement in the chart says something about – without setting in stone – the character of the chart owner.
The unfolding of their interrelated planetary cycles reflects the development patterns of that character, and the timing of those processes.
An astrological chart is a symbolic, not a literal, map. The relationship between the chart and the chart owner is one of correspondence. The connection is not causal.
Neither the planets nor the chart 'make' the chart owner be or do anything.
What the chart owner experiences is matched by what is shown in the chart, and vice versa. This is happening on many different levels and in many different ways.
IT IS STILL YOUR CALL
The symbolic way in which way charts work means there are many possible options for bringing the chart's symbols to life.
In other words, you are still responsible for your choices and responses. There is considerable room for manoeuvre.
Engaging with your chart enables you to see all of yourself and what is happening for you afresh and more clearly, including what may otherwise be hidden from view.
Discussing what your chart brings to light equips you to make better decisions as you become better informed about who you really are and the lie of the land.
In addition, astrology gives you the gift of timing. Knowing about different periods of time and their qualities and duration means you can plan and act, or not, as most benefits you.
Taking A symbolic approach
The true value of astrology in problem-solving lies in its symbolic nature.
A symbol has many layers. It contains a variety of inexhaustible associated meanings, all somehow true to its essence.
A symbol is not the thing itself: it represents or stands in for something else.
What that ‘something else’ is, is what the client brings to the consultation. That is, their story and the issues they want to address. The astrologer brings the chart and their expertise.
Prior to the consultation, the astrologer will spend time studying the chart to identify its most significant astrological symbols and patterns, taking into account the client's outline brief. Some kind of forecast, usually for the year ahead, is also part of the groundwork.
The astrologer comes to the consultation with a chart-based foundation to guide the discussion.
The actual interpretation of the chart happens ‘live’ in conversation, in collaboration with the client.
During the consultation, the astrologer is listening very carefully to the client in order to translate the symbols noted as abstract principles during preparation, into something real and relevant to the client's personal situation.
What the client says and how they are gives the symbols a form and expression that has a meaning and application unique to them.
Mixing symbols and real life circumstances in this way is what leads to a conversation that rings true for the client.
Astrological dialogue enables you to find a new way through by uncovering a fresh perspective, greater clarity and invaluable timing guidance.
Take a look at your own chart
See what your own chart looks with this free chart calculation tool at www.astro.com.