Translating the symbolic configurations of a birth chart into terms the client can understand is the art form the astrologer practices
Astrology is a language of symbols. Astrological birth charts are maps of a person’s life purpose laid out in this coded language. A chart is derived from the arrangement of planets in the sky at the exact time you were born, from the vantage point of the exact place you were born. Symbols are abstract for a reason. Just as Egyptian hieroglyphics refer to concepts far more complex than a single word could convey, planetary glyphs and signs and the geometrical angles between planets are rich with layered meanings.
If you want the astrologer to do your chart, you make an appointment either to come into their office for the interpretation or to do it by phone. The astrologer will ask you to provide her with your date and place of birth; and, ideally, the hour and minute too. People who don’t know their exact time can still have a chart done; it will be less precise, but will still reveal a tremendous amount of information. I prefer giving and getting readings in person, especially the first time I’m meeting someone, because face-to-face more channels are available for intuitive information to flow. There is an occult (hidden) component to astrology that melds rote technique with something more mysterious. As we sit and have a cup of tea together, our conversation begins with the data on the page and quickly expands into the psycho-spiritual implications of that data. The chart becomes a conduit for psychic pick-up.
After your reading, most astrologers will give you the chart itself and a tape of the session.
What an astrologer can tell you?
Using your birth chart (which is generally what one starts with) astrologers can give you a nonjudgmental overview of who you are. The chart shows them your potential strengths, challenges and inborn talents; and areas where you tend to get stuck. Your astrologer will describe to you what the chart says about your inner resources, what you have to work with. The more spiritually inclined practitioner will speak in terms of a soul purpose. There are themes in the chart which suggest why each of us incarnated this time round. In a transit or progressions reading an astrologer can read the larger meaning of whatever is happening to you at the time. S/he can see what the chart says your Higher Self is trying to learn during this phase of your life, this month, this week, or even this particular day. What really motivates a job change, for instance. You may assume it is financial; she may look at your chart and see an inevitable emotional shift which would be occurring no matter what you were doing or how much money you were making.
In a chart comparison an astrologer can help you see whether your needs look anything like your new boyfriend’s needs. Astrology is very good at pinpointing a person’s wants, tastes, beliefs and desires; and contrasting them with another person’s. Themes underlying a relationship which might not be obvious on the surface are thus revealed. When you know where you fundamentally differ from someone, and where you are on the same wavelength, you have a lot of information to work with.
Astrology and the future
A common misconception is that modern astrology makes predictions. In fact, centuries ago astrologers did, and some schools of astrology still do; most notably in those societies such as India where the predominating world view follows a more fatalistic bent. It is psychology, however, rather than divination that underlies most contemporary astrology in the West. It is true that you may hear some very precise and accurate feedback from your astrologer over the course of your reading, due to the extra-sensory aspect of astrology that transcends geometry. Even the astrologer herself may be hard pressed to explain how she came up with the images she comes up with. She may see in your chart that a sudden shift towards elimination is upon you, for example, and the image of a garage sale may occur to her. She may suggest it to you, intending it as a metaphor, only to find you have an actual garage sale scheduled for next week.
The reason this happens is because everything in life is a symbol. Your life already chose the symbol of the garage sale, as an expression of that elimination theme — which was slated to be expressed, one way or another, during the period in question. The astrologer can see the meaning of the period in question, but only in thematic form. Your Higher Self chooses the perfect way to play it out.
What an astrologer cannot tell you
An astrologer can see trends in your chart, not particulars. She doesn’t need to know how you manifest your particular themes; she sees them in general form, which is the way it would be most useful for you to see them. That way you can begin to grasp the consistent tendencies which underlie your changing specifics. Especially if you are having your first reading, your astrologer’s imagery may be quite abstract. Not knowing you from Adam, she will be reading overall patterns, not trying to guess what form they take. The astrologer who gets the garage sale image while looking at your chart does not know whether you are downsizing your company or giving your old shoes away or weeding through your inner values. It would depend on what needed to happen in order to teach you the cosmic lesson at hand.
And that is what you really want to know. Consider, before you hasten to fill her in with back story, that you will get more out of your first reading by listening to the truth of your chart on this level.
The planets themselves have nothing to say about what you are going to do. They only say why you are going to do it. Knowing the why allows us to more consciously participate in what happens.
What about destiny?
Your birth chart is a coded map, not a list of literal events waiting to take place. Most astrologers believe that there is no such thing as “destiny” as apart from human will. So the wild card in all this is free choice, which gets more and more free the more conscious a person becomes. It may disappoint some to hear that no specific events are made to happen because heavenly bodies form certain angles in the sky. Nor do celestial cycles force us to understand anything; they do not have agency. They simply announce themes, which can, if read with discernment, become lessons for us. And they specify when those lessons are going to be taught.
Does the chart tell who we are most compatible with? To the extent that we attract what we are, it does. For example, each of us has our own version of ideal masculinity, expressed by the planet Mars. A chart with a bellicose Mars is more likely to incline one towards Marines, policemen and competitive athletes than is a chart with an introverted Mars.
But your chart does not really describe outer reality at all. It only describes the state of your own psyche. A self-aware person with a fiery Mars could manifest it as raw courage, and would tend to attract others who personified that quality.
An astrologer can help you understand your inner maleness (and we all have a Mars, men and women alike, whatever our sexual persuasion), in terms of its highest potential. Astrology’s goal is to re-acquaint you with your Mars’ strongest and finest qualities. This puts you back in touch with a part of your psyche that might have become estranged or under-used. Getting to know your Mars increases the likelihood that you will encounter male energy in this heightened form. Instead of bullies, you might begin to attract heroes.
The same goes for every other planet in your chart, each of which would then tend to be reflected back to you in a more creative way in the mirror of other people.
Can astrology tell when you will meet your soul mate?
Don’t ask your astrologer to tell you whether you will meet the love of your life this summer. Your Aunt Phyllis might know; your astrologer does not. An astrologer sees only what themes are being highlighted. If a new boyfriend would offer a teaching about one of them, a new boyfriend wouldn’t be ruled out. Certainly important emotional and psychological lessons show up in a person’s chart; and as we all know, the cosmos often uses relationships to great effect, to teach those kind of lessons. But if a boyfriend came in during such a transit, he would be coming in as a carrier of that theme, not necessarily to fulfill your picture of what a boyfriend should mean.
That said, in the same way that your astrologer might see that the workplace will be a hotspot for you this summer, or that old business with your father is due to surface, she might see your relationship arena activated. This will mean the issue is up. You may find yourself thinking about romance more, you may indeed meet someone who personifies it for you, you may become engrossed in a movie or a book or a song that plays it out.
So though your soul mate is not in the chart per se, the urge to find him might be (and because intention creates reality, this often amounts to the same thing). This urge will be stronger at certain times than at others; and that is definitely in the chart. Similarly, your spouse’s changes are not in your birth chart, but your attitude towards them is.
Simply put, there are no other people in your chart. But there are many indicators of your relationship karma and how it is developing. An astrologer might see, for example, an urgent need to be free from limitations in relationships. And if that attitude shift led to an actual shift in your marriage, it wouldn’t be surprising, would it?
But all the chart shows for sure is the inner event. That is what a good astrologer can help you understand and prepare for.
Why go to an astrologer?
Astrology reveals your life path in ciphered form and pinpoints where you are upon it. An astrologer can help you see the mythic meaning behind unarticulated urges and intense yearnings, as well as the everyday changes of mood and direction that may feel arbitrary, confusing and embarrassing to you otherwise. She can show you how these fit into the seasons of your lifetime as a whole. It is a perspective that allows one to live life with more grace.
About the author
Jessica Murray has been practicing astrology in San Francisco for 40-years, After graduating from Brown University in psychology, fine arts and linguistics she toured with a women’s theatre group before moving west in 1975, where her study of Carl Jung led her to astrology. She is author of Soul-Sick Nation and At the Crossroads, and contributed to the anthology Transpersonal Astrology. Her articles appear in the online magazines Reality Sandwich and Day Keeper Journal.com and frequently are featured in The Mountain Astrologer magazine. More information and articles can be found on her website, www.MotherSky.com.