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‘Sir, I have studied it, you have not.’(1)

There is a convention, and a very sound one, that makes it bad form to talk on subjects of which one knows nothing. Unfortunately, this convention has never been upheld when it comes to the subject of astrology. On this matter, as you are probably aware, the most ill-informed people will talk volubly.

In the space of just one week earlier this month, three people were good enough to tell me ‘what any intelligent person knows about astrology’, confident, apparently, that this would put me straight where half a lifetime of dedicated study so clearly had not.

This is a fact of life for an astrologer, and you had better be prepared for it! (2)

One person, a clergyman, stated with some heat that what he disliked most about astrology and astrologers was predictive practice because it was so offensive to the idea of free will. Another, a well-published academic, asserted that the problem with western astrology was this focus upon prediction. Despite their academic credentials, neither of them was doing anything other than voicing popular prejudices but they would have been deeply offended if this had been put to them.

This idea that astrologers are still involved in prediction is a cherished misconception. (It is nearly as cherished as the misconception that free will propels our lives). The sad fact is that one could walk the length and breadth of the British Isles these days and find no more than a handful of astrologers capable of making predictions. In the last twenty years, as western astrology has adapted itself to the requirements of a more psychologically oriented culture, we have lost many techniques and much discipline. Of course, we have also gained a lot from the coming together of astrology and psychology. Unquestionably, the best contribution to astrology in the past twenty years has been made by the Jungian analyst/astrologers, and whatever, one might think about the value of prediction in this post Jungian era, it remains a formidable discipline. An astrologer describing the psyche does not lay his head on the block in the same way; he cannot so readily be proved wrong, and in consequence wide-scale flabbiness, imprecision and amateurism has flourished .

Even so, even after years of experiencing the inevitable results of this slovenly approach to learning and working with astrology, it was depressing and rather shocking to hear Britain’s most celebrated popular astrologer being interviewed for a recent television a programme and marvelling cheerfully that astrology ‘seemed to work’. As he is a professional and very highly paid astrologer, one might hope that he would trouble himself to find out how and why his discipline works, but the idea appears not to have occurred to him.

With this kind of ignorance being expressed by practitioners, is there any wonder that the discipline of astrology has still not earned respect? The fact is that for a long time now, astrology’s problem has been its enthusiasts rather than its detractors. Religious cults can use uncritical, uninformed fervour; astrology could use some well-trained, knowledgeable practitioners.

We have a generation being born now with a predisposition to look to astrology for guidance (3). What is going to meet them? A bland concoction of psycho-babble, self-evident trivia and mysticism expressed through reams of computer print-out?

If the standard of astrological practice is to rise and if astrology is to fulfil the role which now exists for it, there is going to have to be far greater acceptance on the part of students of the amount of effort which has to go into the learning of astrology. The rewards will be in direct proportion to the investment. At the very least they need to expect to understand how and why their discipline works. An astrologer without an understanding of the context of astrology is rather like a surgeon without a knowledge of human anatomy. The difference is that the surgeon would not be allowed to practise, in this or any other country.

And maybe we should look again at the art of prediction. By and large, the astrological community in the West is lofty about prediction, associating it with the astrology of the Dark Ages. Why is this? Indeed, is it anything other than an intellectual stance assumed by astrologers out of ignorance or perhaps, in defence of their unwillingness to grapple with its rigours? If one understands why prediction works one cannot fail to appreciate its value, assuming of course that it is used intelligently; if we work with prediction we acquire a better understanding of energy principles because the art of prediction cannot use fuzziness and approximations.

The Indian teacher, Yogananda, used prediction to gauge where he was at in the process of mastering his personality. He would consciously work against the predictions made for him by astrologers because he knew they reflected his personality, and he reasoned that if he could not overturn the predictions he was not yet master of his personality and did not have free will (4).

Fate exists because unmastered personalities exist. Prediction is made possible because, where there is not mastery of the personality by the soul, the energy of the personality will simply flow through those channels that exist for it. Like water, it will follow the line of least resistance, and the natal chart shows what that is and to what it will give rise.

Since the New Age, we have become spiritually vain in the West. We do not like to think that we have not yet developed the capacities we consider represent spiritual attainment. This kind of vanity is an ever-present danger for people working alone. We rest on illusory laurels, claim to have free will and prepare ourselves to Ascend, as if the pleasure will be all Heaven’s. When such vanity exists, we ourselves suffer because we stop striving and struggling. We get emotional about free will and are lofty about the idea of prediction when, in fact, it could show up so much that we could do with understanding about our unresolved issues. Jung himself said (in so many words) that what we don't resolve on the inside we meet on the outside in the form of fate.

Astrology, well practised, with or without prediction, can define our paths and help us keep to them. We all need this kind of help.

Endnotes

1. Sir Isaac Newton, talking astrology to the astronomer, Herschel.
2. Students frequently ask how to counter the kind of bigotry (and it is not easy to find a kinder word) which astrologers seem to invite, I encourage them to do the bath water test: gauge how deep and how cold is the water and then assess whether it makes ergonomic sense to put hot water on top of it. Usually, it is best to conserve one’s resources and trust that adversity is character-building!
3. Uranus and Neptune in Aquarius; Pluto in Sagittarius.
4. The Hindu astrological tradition produces the finest predictive astrologers in the world.
5. As my colleague, Chris, said not too long ago, answering someone in a Brighton pub who had become emotional about the subject of free will: ‘Yes, you do have free will. You could choose not to have another drink. But you won’t.’ This is the crucial point. For as long as the soul is not master of the personality we are a house divided and the intentions are undermined by the desires. This is the origin of fate.

The D.K. Foundation is offering correspondence courses in:
Basic Astrology and Transitional Astrology
The first module of each course will be sent out for the Autumn Equinox 2000.
Details and enrolment forms are now up on the web site.
Enrolment closes on 10th September 2000.

 
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