Heigh-ho! It’s fair season again!
Psychic fairs; holistic expos; wellness conferences abound…there’s a smorgasbord of events for every taste. And we, the swamis, scurry forth from our winter hibernation and dust off our crystal balls or Tarot cards, and trot out the sage smudging-sticks and essential oils…there is suddenly a huge hustle and bustle in mantic circles, vying for punters’ coin; and for some of us, blinking in the sunlight as we emerge from our caves, this is all very disorienting. And for those punters—well, there’s one born every minute, right?
That’s the perception; and perhaps it once was true; nowadays, the dynamic is very different. Modern practitioners see fairs as opportunities to demonstrate in small the range of their skills and abilities, displaying our wares less to entice than to educate. We don’t expect to make money at fairs: they provide an opportunity to meet the world and strut our stuff, so to speak.
To connect. And if we DON’T connect—to correct our pitch, because the aim is to advertise.
But it is also to meet people; and to be entertaining in the process; and to have fun—because it IS fun.
“Can astrologers be Christians?” A dear friend floored me recently by asking that question. I stared at him; and then I realized what he meant: he thought astrology was like a religion; a belief system; an ideology.
Astrology is a tool for locating oneself in time and space, like a map or a compass. It can be employed as a framework of metaphors, nuanced in describing traits or events precisely. For the spiritually-minded, astrology may provide a collection of clues, tiny signatures that attest to the mind of God; but it is NOT a religion in or of itself.
And it is incredibly USEFUL.
Woke up this morning and realized there are no planets in air signs right now. In fact, no planets in air (except the Moon—fleetingly) until the end of August.
What does this mean? Well, there are four elements in western astrology: earth (practicality); water (emotion); fire (enthusiasm); and air (intellect). We are suffering from a dearth of intelligence—all month. Sure, we can think: but mental processes won’t come easily, so we’ll have to build workarounds, as with any shortage. If we throw enough money, intensity, and passion at a problem, we can probably solve it—but without any pretense of elegance or simplicity. Rational thought is a stretch right now: we are in a period of what my father liked to call “nae brains”.
So, instead of an ill wind that blows no good, we have no wind at all. What a perfectly telling backdrop to one of the nastiest elections in recent history…
I picked up the latest issue of The Mountain Astrologer, which is the most respected North American astrological trade magazine, and considered the banner promise on its cover: “2016: The Next Five Years [of] Technology, Culture, and Planetary Cycles”. Wow. Great. Everything you’d want to know—except, I realized, that I didn’t know what I wanted to know. If astrology could tell me all that—and I firmly believe that it can—what kind of foreknowledge would be useful?
Now I specialize in psychological astrology: I counsel people on the basis of their charts, or the charts of their significant others, if relationship is the issue before us. Together we consider the context of their world: what traits they were given in this life; how they have developed or ignored them; how they are affected by the times and society in which they live. It’s all there in their charts; and the information is useful when making choices and decisions. Nothing’s written in stone, but the trends are clear: my job is to present them to my clients, so that they can organize their lives as they see fit. It’s all straightforward, and specific to THEM; but what of the wider world?
The trends described in The Mountain Astrologer are fascinating. They range impressively from technological invention to microbial wars, from financial forecasting to political paroxysms. These contributing astrologers—tops in their specialized fields—write well; and I can follow the speculative astrologese and the planetary logic; but to what purpose? Why do I need to know these things?
As a citizen, I work at keeping current with the news; I too can be overwhelmed by it. But as an astrologer, I have tools that give me insight as to why certain things may be happening. Which is sometimes invaluable; but it also moves my attention in particular directions, which may or may not be useful to me or my clients; so I have to focus. Despite our incomprehensibly vast access to data through the Internet, our spheres of attention are actually quite limited and personal; and it is in those areas that we work. What do we actually need to know?
I like what I do. I like it a lot. It is a huge privilege to sit with people, poring over their birth charts, witnessing their delight at this window on their lives. We talk about how this or that aspect plays out in their lives, exploring the potential of each planet—where and how far each could take them, with this map for directions. They ask me questions, and we puzzle out the answers together: it is a dialogue, a discussion of equals, equally concerned with finding workable threads through the maze. We solve problems and explore mysteries.
It’s this dialogue that matters to me. I couldn’t do it any other way. But other astrologers do.
For some, it is performance, grounded and informed by the charts they are reading, no feedback necessary. For others, it is a synthesis of otherwise isolated traits and ideas, which are unified by this moment of birth, an immutable, individual fingerprint, useful only for reference.
I find each chart a living document, which fills me with excitement at the power of its potential, and I can’t wait to share it with its owner!
Everybody has ‘em. Those days of horror and despair, where you debate with yourself about even getting out of bed, let alone TALKING to anyone, even after coffee. Nothing works. There is no more sugar; and the cream has gone off. Your zipper breaks. Even the dog looks askance.
Astrologers have those days, too. The only difference for us is that we generally know WHY we’re having ‘em, and how long the misery will persist: we can look at our transits and SEE the cavalry off in the distance. It doesn’t fix anything, but it makes the bad times bearable. Sometimes just knowing how long we have to persevere helps.
Stars and planets—the elements of our trade—actually do nothing TO us; but over millennia they have proved a useful mirror. Their movements are tracked and well-documented; so we actually CAN predict trends with them. How precise are these prognostications? How accurate is YOUR weather guru? These are forecasts, not visions: they indicate probabilities tailored to YOU. A good astrologer can help you make decisions, based on the odds; but she will never make them for you.
Bad hair days can sometimes be fixed with a mirror.
Astrology is only as good as the astrologer. That’s right, you heard me: in fact, I’ll say it again. Astrology is only as good as the astrologer—and we vary. In philosophy; in training; in expertise; in empathy. Some of us know our stuff, but can’t talk; some are extraordinary counselors, with only a smattering of astrological knowledge. Some of us write better than we speak. Some have extraordinary insights, but no ability to communicate them.
Some have impressive credentials; others are self-taught.
Some of us believe in free will. Some of us hint darkly at fate. Most of us mean well, most of the time; and almost any of us would be delighted to have you as a client.
So how do you KNOW? After all, you are entrusting your birth data to us to unlock your life’s secrets, and you are paying down your hard-earned shekels for the privilege; how do you find the right astrologer for YOU?
Trust your instincts. Ask around. Check with a local astrological society or school. Do some background reading. Ask questions about the astrologer’s process BEFORE you book. (Did I say trust your instincts?) If you don’t like what you’re hearing, or feel comfortable talking with the person, choose someone else.
And once you’ve chosen, if the reading doesn’t sound like you, try a different practitioner. (It SHOULD be familiar: it’s about you, after all.)
Astrology WORKS. It’s a map of your life. But it’s only as good as the astrologer you choose.
In the 1970s, when I wrote sporadically for a downtown paper, I used to drink wine with the editor and passionately plot astrological murder mysteries, which I never did get around to writing. My editor-friend was bemused by my detective-astrologer, whom he dubbed an “antic mantic”. “Mantic?” I asked. “You don’t know the word? Look it up,” he replied. So I did; and discovered, belatedly, that that is what I am.
A mantic. According to The Free Dictionary, “Of, relating to, or having the power of divination; prophetic.” From the Greek word mantikos, meaning seer. You betcha. I LIVE in the realm of divination.
Astrology is useful. It answers a lot of questions about why we do what we do, because the blueprint we set out with at birth is available to us. We can consult it for clarification when we are stumped about what to do next. We make up our own minds; but it’s there as a reference, should we choose to look.
Another word about readers and readings: most psychic readings are one-and-done. You plunk down your shekels, you get a snapshot of the here-and-now, which may have reference to the past or future. Astrology is about time. YOUR time.
Astrology is about cycles and phases and transits and progressions. Astrology takes time, because it is ABOUT time: it’s about where you are in your life, what and how that time is. The better you understand and can follow your own patterns, the better informed your choices are, and the more resilient you become when life throws you curves.
A psychic can tell you what’s about to happen; an astrologer can tell you how to handle it. Over time. Your choice.
Ariel Harper Nave
“I believe that there is NOTHING sent us that we cannot handle if we know ourselves well enough and that’s why I do what I do.”