Astrological Interpretation in the Twenty-First Century
What Is Astrology, Anyway?
Astrology is an ancient, vast field of human philosophy and spiritual scholarship with multiple branches. Western, Vedic, and Chinese Astrology are branches that are primarily used in the modern world, and past centuries featured other branches such as Babylonian and Mayan. While each branch is unique in many ways, they all share the purpose of helping people understand human nature and purpose, based in part on observation and analysis of the stars, planets, and other heavenly bodies. Often modern astrology integrates with psychology, seeking to interpret astrological data in order to better understand possibilities and limitations related to what that data represents (from a person to a moment in time) and to counsel people with the purpose of bringing about understanding and healing.
In contrast to that purpose, Western astrological interpretation since the death of Christ often has taken a strict and negative tone and attitude, interpreting natal charts, progressions, etc. in what are sometimes frightening words. For example, it is common to interpret a person's natal planetary aspect of Venus in Scorpio as an inherent tendency to lust. Likewise, the aspect of a Sun – Moon opposition is often interpreted as leading the person with that aspect to invest in his/her career so much that family and all else are ignored. This negative style of interpretation uses the cheap and easy ploy of fear as a means of power, which is questionable from a strictly ethical viewpoint. In the same way that fundamentalist religions of any persuasion holler fire and brimstone, Western astrologers commonly interpret planetary positions, aspects, transits, etc. as either good or bad, and Lord help the soul whose planets or aspects are “bad”! This negative interpretation is neither healing nor empowering.
Find the Rainbow
Why Not Interpret Astrological Data in a Positive Manner?
Arguably, however, an uplifting and positive interpretation of a client’s chart, no matter what his/her planets and aspects, will best support that person’s self-confidence and self-respect, strengthening his/her ability to create constructive change. Positive thinking brings about change easily, but fear and limitations do not give one confidence or power to grow in goodness.
For example, if one’s sun sign is Scorpio, what is the use of learning that one tends toward being cruel, selfish, and sexually obsessed? Those words seem rather self-fulfilling prophecies. Would it not be better to think of a Scorpio’s nature as masterful, capable, and passionate? What a difference simply changing the words makes! Any negative or limiting interpretation can be changed to address the same character quality, aspect, progression, etc. from a positive viewpoint, using language that stresses constructive action and love. For example, instead of saying gluttonous when describing a Cancer’s character, one might say, connoisseur of good food and drink. Instead of saying, stubborn for a Taurus, one might stress, loyal.
Introduction to the sun signs of Western astrology, by leading astrologer, Stephen Forrest
Interested in Astrology?
With Open Eyes, Choose to Affirm and Support Positive Choices
When interpreting charts, astrologers should remain positive rather than using dark and negative interpretation that invites self-limiting thought. This life-affirming style of guidance will best support individual and group responsibility and consciousness in order to nourish development of human affairs, from individual counseling to guiding world progress, with the goal of making this the best possible world.
What Is Astrology? Video by Kepler College
Does Positive Interpretation Equate to Wearing Blinders?
One might ask, where is the honest recognition of the dark potential of human character and life in all this Pollyanna-like positivism? In response, both darkness and light, both destructive and constructive possibilities exist in every moment. It is up to each human being to choose darkness or light in every moment of his/her life; that is the act of free will, which is arguably our God-given birthright. Only by choosing the light can a human being develop the good character potentially inherent in his/her astrology chart. Only by human beings choosing rightly, wisely, responsibly, and lovingly in any moment can that moment’s potential develop in a constructive, rather than destructive, manner. Astrology can show a formula for any moment’s potential, but it is up to human beings to make that moment develop in its best possible manner. A positive interpretation of astrological data supports individual choices that are also positive.
That does not mean astrologers should not discuss the dark or destructive potential inherent in any sign, aspect, planet, or other astrological entity. Ignorance or wearing blinders does not lead to maturity, responsibility, or a fulfilled human being. Astrologers should communicate full knowledge of both light and dark and of both constructive and destructive human nature and actions.
Interesting presentation of the astrolabe, an ancient astrological device
Resources for Further Study
Using Astrology as a Tool for Personal Growth
I first learned about astrology when I was a teenaged girl in high school, living in a small Midwestern town. I was introspective, idealistic, and romantic. I daydreamed of becoming a successful poet and musician, doing something to help change the world for the better, marrying my true love, and living out our lives together happily and peacefully.
I looked at my family and myself, as well as at society in general, however, and realized that many people are unable to reach their dreams, and I decided that might be partially their own fault. I decided that achieving my goals might require that I overcome my personal weaknesses. If I could develop into my best possible self, wouldn’t that bring blessing into my life, perhaps including achieving my dreams?
How was I to change myself, though? I looked at religion, having been raised as a Christian, but found that many went to church yet lived hypocritically, not living up to the teachings in which they professed to believe. I have since found a personal relationship with God, developing humility and understanding that each person’s timeline for personal growth is unique. Back in my teens, though, I ranged further when finding Christianity wanting, looking for more answers than simply having faith and accepting God’s grace; how could I understand and change my nature?
Discovering astrology, first through simple columns in women’s magazines, then moving on to researching books on the subject, I found that I understood the language of astrology quickly. I devoured any books on the subject that I could find, sitting for hours in the bookstores in my college town reading esoteric and metaphysical treatises as well as more general astrology books. A dear friend and I spent countless hours around that time creating natal charts for our friends and family (by hand and without a computer, it was the early 1970’s!). Recently, I have learned to use computerized programs to calculate charts, and I enjoy the many accessible Internet resources for studying astrology.
What I continue to find, having studied and followed astrology for over 40 years, is that by working with my natal and progressed charts, I have points of reference for working on my spiritual development. For example, knowing I am a Cancer sun sign with my natal Jupiter in Cancer three degrees away from my natal sun, I recognize the tendency for arrogance, as well overindulgence in food and drink. Instead of hitting myself over the head daily with that negative interpretation, though, I have grown to think of myself as philosophical, spiritual, nurturing, artistic, and imaginative, with a talent for cooking and appreciation of fine food and drink. I realize that it will always be tempting for me to overindulge in food and drink, and so I have studied nutrition and continue to work to make temperance a way of life. I look for ways I can use my natal gifts, turning potential weaknesses into strengths, as I continue to work toward achieving my personal goals.