21 May 2006

"I don't do predictions"

An article with this title in a newsletter for professional astrologers set me thinking about this particular phrase, as it’s one that I use often when setting up a meeting with a client. The saying “I don’t do predictions” was something that a astrologer had picked up on. It had jarred with him when he’d heard a graduate of the Astrological Psychology Association - not me! - use this very phrase. His article with the “I don’t do predictions” title was about prediction of all kinds, and was not just aimed at astrology. It was well-reasoned and the points raised were clearly discussed. He comes from a scientific background; the APa graduate from an arts background. Having used this same phrase myself countless times, I understood where she was coming from - but could I understand his viewpoint as well? This set me thinking about prediction in general, both in the astrological context and in the wider framework of the scientific world.

Prediction and foretellingIf you look up the word “Prediction” in a dictionary, you will find its definition is “foretelling”. Literally, it means to “speak before” (pre-dict) an event. Most of us want daily predictions. We watch or listen to the weather forecast, and our lives are quite strongly influenced by predictions made by meteorologists. We will tuck an umbrella into a bag if rain is forecast without even thinking about it. But what about scientists who predict, for example, the effects of global warming? They have been doing this for countless years and yet it is only now that it has become headline news. Yes, global warming is happening. Of course, scientists can only predict trends and suggest possible outcomes, which is what I suppose those astrologers who do predictions would say!

And what about astronomers who always seem able to state categorically that the distance between Planet A and Planet B is so many million light years ? They are predicting or foretelling in a way. As a child I could never understand how they could know such things, state them publicly and be believed! How could they know? No-one ever having never travelled that distance before! It’s all based on scientific modelling and the knitting together of known facts. But don’t quote me on that.

Global eventsI have read in astrological journals about the workings of the planets, where transits for the coming months are discussed and interpretations made on their movements and positions and how these might relate to worldwide events. I am not trying to knock the skills and techniques used by the well-seasoned and experienced astrologers who write these articles - everyone has their own special interest. Yet the raging sceptic in me shouts “Why?!” Why bother to do this (apart, perhaps from engaging in a mental exercise) as more often than not what is predicted or foretold bears no resemblance to what actually happens. A couple of cases in point are the terrorist attack on the twin towers and the war in Iraq. The only occasion I recall over the past 20 years of an astrological prediction being spot on accurate was when veteran astrologer Dennis Elwell predicted the sinking of the “Herald of Free Enterprise” ferry off the coast at Zeebrugge. He had written to P&O Ferries well in advance of this event, warning them of dangers to shipping at this time; they ignored his warnings and the ferry went down with a huge and tragic loss of life.

Although I don’t do predictions, I can't close myself off from a large number of members of the astrological community just because they “do predictions”, and I don’t. I have many good astrological friends who are skilled at predictive techniques, and I embrace “astrodiversity” even though it leads down many paths I would not wish to follow. As a novice astrologer, I learned predicting techniques, and had to use and apply them as part of the course I was studying. I felt very uncomfortable when I tried to commit my findings to paper, in the form of a mock report aimed at the person whose chart I was looking at. Fortunately this was not for real, and was part of an assignment. I never did it for real. It just didn’t feel right. Stuck in a limbo where I could not progress further without embracing predictions, I heard Bruno and Louise Huber speak at a conference in the 1980’s and what they offered in the way of person-centred astrological psychology struck a profound chord for me.

Four questionsLouise spoke of four different questions about astrology. These were:

1) Future 2) Character 3) Development 4) Meaning of Life
  • FutureLouise suggested that Saturn rules questions about the future. People ask “What will happen to me?” or “What does the future hold for me?” There is a fear of the future, a need to know what is just around the corner, a need to be in control and a dependence on being told what will happen by the astrologer. Methods used in answering such questions are prediction, and the use of progressions and transits. It is a formative part of any astrologer’s learning experience to experiment with progressions and transits.
  • Character
    Louise saw questions about character traits being ruled by the Moon. People will ask the astrologer to elaborate on what problems they have, or what abilities they have. They are more in touch with their emotional needs and seek clarification for these areas of their lives. The methods used to answer such questions will be to apply character analysis together with some psychological methods, drawing perhaps of the work of Freud and Jung and using other techniques such as Gestalt and Transactional Analysis.
  • DevelopmentBy this, Louise meant personal development. Here the Sun rules. Questions might be about independence, autonomy and freedom. The person will ask “What can I do to reach self-realisation?” Methods used to answer these questions would be Psychosynthesis and the Huber Method which involves the whole chart and person, the 5 levels of human existence, the aspect structure as life motivation, the integration of the three-fold personality, the Dynamic Calculations, the House Chart and Age Progression. Here we are moving away from the “stuckness” of Saturn and the emotional responses of the Moon. We enter the realm ruled by the Sun, which represents the mind, the decision-making process and the will. If we can claim our Sun, and become truly autonomous, we will not need to ask an astrologer “What does the future hold for me?” as we’ll be out there creating it for ourselves!
  • Meaning of LifeThese are the questions where the transpersonal planets, Uranus, Neptune and Pluto rule. The questions are deep and penetrating and include such topics as “Where am I coming from and where am I going?” and “What is the meaning of my life?” Methods used to answer these questions include esoteric astrology, which gives an understanding of the evolution of humankind. Transformation and spiritual crises would be considered along with the laws of spiritual growth. The circle in the centre of the chart would be used, plus the Low Point experience, the Moon Node chart and the use of all three charts in an astrological counselling session. These questions take us beyond the realm of the Sun and our own autonomy and move us towards asking “What can I do that will make a difference to my family, my society, and ultimately to the world?”
Code of Ethics
Still thinking of what set my mind turning over this “I don’t do predictions” statement, I am reminded of the APA Code of Ethics. Written by Bruno Huber and used by APA since it was founded in 1983, it includes the following clause:
“We regard astrology exclusively as a diagnostic tool, with which we recognise differences in character, problems of the human psyche and of psychological-spiritual development. Thus, astrological knowledge should above all be used to gain self-knowledge and as therapeutic help, as well as a means for solving conflicts - and not for prediction of the future.”

Did I get to understand where the scientists might be coming from? Well, yes, in a way I did. I know many people with a scientific background and I listen to and respect the views and opinions of those with a scientific background – and in turn I expect them to listen to and respect me, and my astrology. But some aspects of the scientific do seem to smack of the sterner side of Saturn - certainty laced with a shot of rigidity, stirred well with plenty of facts. Then modelled to perfection to present a forecast or prediction which many people in positions of power hang on to tightly. The good news is that more leading edge scientists are beginning to agree that things cannot be so cut and dried, that science is not always right because there are things that can’t be explained - so those transpersonal planets are maybe doing their bit in ways we cannot yet begin to imagine!

As for astrological predictions, cue here the development of the Sun - the individual, the self, the will, the autonomy of the person, the ability to choose and create our own lives - and enter the essence of the Transpersonal planets which will help us understand what really is the meaning of our lives.

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