I only recently learned, after 10 years as a professional astrologer, that intuitive astrology is looked down upon by the astrology establishment.
Honestly, this explains a lot.
I've always known that I did not fit in with this particular crowd for some reason.
All the astrology conferences and courses and schools and lectures - it all costs money I don't have to spend and is therefore inaccessible to me and to any other poor or working class astrologer or student. But even that didn't tell the whole story. There was just something off about me even attempting to interact in that world.
And now I know.
Self-taught astrologers, intuitive astrologers, astrologers who haven't jumped through the particular hoops set out by this astrological establishment, are considered secondary - possibly (possibly) serviceable at what they do, but not among the best and brightest, not members of the Big Deal Astrologers club.
OK, good. Glad to have that clarified.
I don't really mind being considered a second class citizen or being snubbed by the astrology establishment. The thing that bugs me is when I'm treated that way without fully understanding the underlying motivation or reason.
From early on as an astrologer, I picked up on the push for standardized astrological education for practising astrologers. (I'm intuitive, right? You can't get a control mechanism past me.)
Many of the current astrological associations and groups have been built around this push for standardized education. In other words, in order to call yourself a professional astrologer, you have to have certain certifications, take certain approved courses of study, and be tested on your knowledge by certain other establishment-approved astrologers. (And again, this all takes $$$, so it's a pretty middle and upper-middle class-dominated scheme.)
If you don't jump through these particular hoops and learn these particular pre-approved brands of astrology, receiving the piece(s) of paper that says you're a legit professional in the minds of these establishment astrologers, you pretty well aren't welcome in their clubs. You're shut out of "the scene," as well as the many opportunities for professional advancement enjoyed by those in these particular (quite insular) clubs.
Well, to be honest, they can have it.
I don't think any of my regular readers, patrons, or readings customers would argue when I say I'm a professional astrologer, and I'm very skilled at what I do. I would place my own body of astrological work against any astrologer's body of work, no problem.
I like astrology that is wild, untamed, soulful, intuitive, anarchistic, willing to call a spade a spade, willing to go into "controversial" territory. This is the astrology that speaks to me, and this is the astrology I practise. And to be honest, for those with the oldest of souls, this is often the only kind of astrology that does the trick. The lighter or more standardized stuff doesn't cut it.
I can't write to fit anyone else's standards, and I can't practise astrology that way, either. I never have been able to. It would exhaust me to even try. It just doesn't work that way.
I don't want professional astrology being put in a little box with dimensions pre-determined by certain select astrologers (who are generally from a more mainstream perspective and from a more materially-comfortable class).
The push to standardize astrology and to make it mainstream is also a push, in my opinion, to homogenize it, to sanitize it, to "weed out" the true individuals, the cutting edge astrologers, the spiritual artists. The astrologers like me.
Unless of course, those astrologers agree to submit to this pre-set programme for learning and practising astrology.
The groups using their public platforms to push for standardized astrological education subtly (and not-so-subtly) de-legitimize the type of astrology I practise. They marginalize intuitive astrologers, making them a fringe element of the more "respectable" astrological scene, setting them up firmly in the category of "Other." And I don't appreciate that one little bit.
I don't believe astrology is a hard science. I believe it's a spiritual art.
Do all artists now need to graduate from pre-approved art schools in order to call themselves professional artists?
I mean, does imposing that on everyone not go against the entire spirit of art and the organic nature of the creative process?
There are many ways to learn, including outside standardized educational channels, and I'm a perfect example of this.
(In fact, after I got a university degree in journalism, I thought to myself, if they had the right textbooks, people could teach themselves all this stuff and skip the massive student loan debt...)
The push for standardized astrological education is a true Pluto in Capricorn-era symbol - another control mechanism designed to force people into a pre-set way of being and a pre-set way of doing business that is easier for the mainstream to digest (including mainstream astrologers). It puts everyone in a nice, neat, little pecking order according to how many designatory letters they list behind their names and what Super Impressive Astrologers they have studied under.
And you know what? Sure. You take your courses and get your accreditations and go to your conferences and collect astrology lectures from Big Name Astrologers like notches on your bedpost.
But hands off my sacred art. Hands off my practise of astrology, which has helped so many people by being wild and untamed and controversial and intuitive and honest and raw.
You can run your scene according to these pre-set rules and requirements. But don't believe you have the right to impose them on all astrologers. Don't believe you have the right to impose them on me.
I answer to a higher power than the likes of you.
To be honest, the fact that people think they can impose their ways on a precious and sacred art like astrology is narcissistic to me, if not a little crazy.
Not jumping through these standardized hoops certainly leaves me (and others) on the outside looking in. It shuts us out of certain professional advancement, watching opportunities go to less-deserving astrologers with less potent bodies of work via cronyism.
But I'd rather do things the way I know is right and suffer the consequences.
Isn't that the way? To do what you know is right even when it won't "get you ahead?" Even when you have to watch as the hoop-jumpers reinforce more hoop-jumpers and the monied reinforce more monied?
C'est la vie.
This is an article excerpt from way back in 2009, just 18 months after I started the blog. The writing was on the wall then as far as this push for forced standardized education in astrology, and it has been outlined in Sharpie since then...
From October 19, 2009, "DIY Astrologers Vs. Standardized Astrological Education":
"So I'm a self-taught astrologer. It's been a relatively short but (sometimes brutally) intensive course of study/practise.
Books, internet, astrology message boards, practising on people (sorry people!), and daily observation of transiting planets were the main avenues I took.
The ideas and techniques of other astrologers have certainly influenced the development of my own astrological take (as I've influenced others), but there is no one who can take credit for my personal astrological analysis or perspective. I worked hard for it, and it's mine.
I haven't learned from any one astrologer or any one course of study and didn't take formal courses or classes from other astrologers - not necessarily because I didn't want to (at least in the beginning). I was open to the idea. It was more so that it just wasn't in my stars, so to speak, to learn that way. Initially, I didn't have the money to take classes or courses, so I learned on my own. Then I realized this was the way for me to go - choosing my own course of study, bit-by-bit, and letting my particular practise of astrology come into existence on its own terms.
I think for people who are meant to access it, astrology is inherent in a lot of ways. One day you start to read it or hear about it and it just means something to you. From there, a process is triggered by which it is drawn to the surface, into conscious, day-to-day life. But it feels as if you've always had the knowledge inside. It just takes a while to develop the language used to access and express it.
I think a do-it-yourself (DIY) style is fairly common among astrologers. At the same time, it's also fairly common to take a specific course of study under specific astrologers as teachers.
My view is that it depends entirely upon the individual which way of learning is preferable. To each his/her own. I wouldn't suggest one way of learning astrology is better than another or makes a person more of an astrologer. A mix of formal classes and self-study would be a potent way to learn, but again, it depends on the case and the means available. It depends what's in the stars. It depends what you have access to and whether you have the expendable fiat currency to throw down for it. (The demand for standardized education for astrologers has a really strong classist reek to it, and I would bet money it's coming from middle and upper-middle class astrologers...)
There is a push in some astrology circles these days (including in Calgary) for standardized astrological education. I'm, of course, opposed to this because I feel this is not necessary across the board, and I think it would be quite stifling to the creative side of astrology - the spiritual art aspect - to have this imposed.
I understand that people who want standardized education want to weed out the fakes. They wish to make astrology more accepted in the mainstream by making it necessary for astrologers to have a certain standardized education before practising professionally.
I just don't think this is the way to go, for aforementioned reasons, but also, I've never been a mainstream-accepted kind of gal, and I don't think mainstream acceptance is something we should demand all astrologers strive for.
Mainstream acceptance, if it comes about, should be based on the stellar work of astrologers impressing people to such an extent that they say, "Hmm...there might be something to this." Acceptance and respect in the mainstream could naturally come about as a byproduct of excellent astrological work, but just as I found out that it wasn't in my best interests to try to get in with the popular kids in high school, I think making mainstream acceptance an across-the-board goal is not a good idea.
I think this push is biased to the scientific/psychological side of things. I don't consider astrology a hard science and I don't consider myself a psychologist, so again, this is not something I can personally get behind.
And let's be honest - this also has to do with money and the desire for a broader clientele. There's nothing wrong with that. I just don't think imposing standardized astrological education on everyone is the way to go to achieve that. (A little control freak-y, no?)
Yes, there is a basic system of astrology, and to call yourself an astrologer, you need to know and use that system.
But even what that basic system is depends on whom you ask.
I was shocked when I first found out that some astrologers don't use signs or houses! They use only aspects between/among the planets in their analysis. Other astrologers don't use the outer planets at all - meaning no Uranus, Neptune or Pluto. Then there is the choice between tropical and sidereal (the two major branches), the choice of house system (there are many - and again, some astrologers don't use any!), what planets/bodies you consider important enough to include in your analysis, and then the variations in interpretation among astrologers.
There are so many choices to make over the course of developing one's practise of astrology. I really feel that there are as many ways of practising astrology as there are astrologers.
And yeah, that leaves astrology open to watered-down versions practised by people who have not really put the time and effort into it. People who practise "soft" astrology and deal in textbook generalities or who water astrology down with a lot of other concepts to the point where it's more of a token kind of thing. This bugs the hell out of me, too, at times. I totally get that...
It's irritating as fuck when you've personally put the time and effort into something, really committed to it, lived it, and then people latch onto the label of "astrology" or "astrologer" in a very watered-down sense to sell a few more readings.
[I've personally come into contact with that phenomenon on more than one occasion. The Insta-Astrologer.]
This definitely could be damaging to the credibility of astrology in the mainstream. But I can't personally stop people from selling watered-down astro-babble, as long as they're keeping it legal. All I can hope is that the proof will be in the pudding and these shortcut-takers will eventually reap what they sow.
The other side of the coin is enforced standardized astrological education, which bugs me just as much. Because who determines what the "standardized" astrological education is? Who determines what we all "have to know," how we must come to know it and how much we must pay to learn it? Who determines what is important to teach and what isn't? Which astrologers have their work included and which don't? Which versions of astrology are the accepted ones? And which ones aren't? From whose perspective is it taught?
Outside the very, very basics, it's up for debate.
I couldn't promote a standardized way of learning astrology. What I can get behind is - do what's right for you. Follow your passion and what interests you at the time. Certain areas will draw you in and just make sense, and there's your personal track. This is how people get to the astrology that pours out of their souls. This is how they get to the astrology only they can practise, from the perspective only they can bring."
And this is the perspective of your unaffiliated anarchist astro-reporter, Willow. My techniques, writing, and interpretations would not make it into those standardized astrology textbooks and classes. Thank-you for reading.