What is the next step in the evolution of astrology? Where is our tradition headed? I don’t know the answers to these questions, but I think it’s well worth it to think about them. Our best clues may come from surveying the attitudes, opinions, and approaches of younger astrologers today. In my search for an astrological community, I have gone out of my way to meet or communicate with a large number of younger astrologers. Hopefully this allows me at least a tiny glimpse into where we are collectively headed. Not terribly surprisingly, there doesn’t seem to be a unified approach among younger astrologers, though there are some major groupings that can be found. Here are some of them, in no particular order.
Psychological: One of the more practical vocational choices for an astrologer today is to gain professional training as a counselor. Because this path offers benefits with greater financial security and greater respect in our society, I think we can be certain that psychological astrologers will continue to make up a significant portion of our tradition.
Western/Vedic: This is the grouping that I fit into more than any other. So I’m biased in saying that I hope it grows. I’ll quote Dennis Harness in the Summer/Fall issue of the ISAR Astrologer: “… I think we need to get over our ethnocentrism in terms of our culture and in terms of our practice of astrology. To think that our way is the only way or even the best way is exclusionary …” (page 27). I agree. I think it’s very unfortunate that so many Westerners are not particularly interested in Vedic astrology, mainly because of what appears to be cultural differences. Still, there is a fairly enormous growing interest in Vedic astrology in the West. Looking at the remarkable explosion of Jyotish over just the last decade and continuing that trend forward, my crystal ball says its future will be very bright here. One thing that is likely to be attractive about Vedic astrology to many new astrologers is that it is based upon a solid, traditional approach that is far more unified than our Western tradition and has also been practiced in this way for centuries.
Hellenistic: This may be surprising to some, but this may be the most significant group of all among serious young astrologers. Many Kepler College students, in particular, are very interested in the ancient Hellenistic era astrology. This grouping strikes me as perhaps the most noble of all, because to study it is to try to resurrect an approach that was extinct not long ago, yet which provides invaluable clues about the foundations of what we do today. The drawback that comes along with this movement may be that earning a living with it might be more difficult, since its methods do not have a long, active, living tradition behind it that we can directly learn from; then again, that didn’t stop many of us from practicing a more humanistic or psychological kind of astrology, even though those methods were also quite new and don’t have a great deal of tradition behind them. However, followers of this approach are very passionate about it, so it will not surprise me one bit if twenty years from now a majority of our most successful astrologers are practicing with a great deal of Hellenistic methods.
Medieval/Traditional/Horary: This is the branch of our astrology that I am least familiar with. However, I expect to see interest in this area grow significantly in the decades to come for a number of reasons. First, many people want to practice Western forms of astrology, but feel that modern methods are too imprecise. Second, Kepler College students cover this territory in their studies and thus will have some substantial connection with it. Third, there are more and more translations being made of relevant older texts. Horary in particular is a fairly popular topic among many younger astrologers.
Academic: This is a relatively new development that will hopefully grow significantly in the decades to come. Kepler College is raising astrology to the level of a scholarly study, one which is integral to the understanding of human history. Richard Tarnas’s work at CIIS (California Institute of Integral Studies) has many devoted followers among younger astrologers. The academic path will likely be a very rewarding journey for many astrologers in the future, at least on the intellectual level. Will more universities seek out accomplished academics with knowledge of astrological studies and pay them for it? We can only hope so.
Intuitive: I could write an entire column on this very controversial subject. Most astrologers seem, very understandably, not to want to be put anywhere near the same category as “psychics.” And of course we shouldn’t be mentioned in the same breath as Ms. Cleo or Madame Palm Reader. We rightfully pride ourselves on practicing a way that is based on scientifically observable realities, and not just ungrounded flights of intuition. Yet I think most of us might admit that we personally believe in the power of human intuitiveness, even if we don’t think it explicitly belongs in the practice of astrology. I am much more in favor of openness to an intuitive approach to astrology than most seem to be, but only as long as one’s technically proficient side as an astrologer per se has a firm and solid foundation. Regardless of how we each feel about this issue, I think there may be a great number of astrologers in the future who are not shy about the role of intuition in their work. But whether or not this is the case will probably depend on what we collectively decide to accept and reject. The future of this one is too hard for me to call right now.
“Evolutionary”: One of the most passionate and active groupings of younger astrologers are in the category of what Jeffrey Wolf Green and Steven Forrest teach as “Evolutionary Astrology” (although to be fair, Ray Merriman, previously published a book by that same title in 1977). While their approaches are different in many ways, Green and Forrest’s foundation is the belief that human beings reincarnate and that the birth chart shows the evolutionary intentions for the soul in the present life. This branch of astrology has a strong following with enthusiastic supporters, and with so many people looking for their “life purpose,” this approach seems likely to continue to grow considerably in the future. The astrologer fulfills a more spiritual or “priestly” function in this approach, and thus this may offer a glimpse into a more “spiritual” role for some astrologers in the future.
Asteroids/Centaurs/Trans-Plutonians/ Etc.: I don’t personally know any younger astrologers who are exclusively focused in these areas, and if anything there is more of a movement towards using less astronomical bodies for each chart (such as in traditional astrology). What I am mainly seeing is that many younger astrologers are adding an extra body here or there, such as Chiron and Ceres. But this could certainly change in the future.
Modern: Some young astrologers can only be placed into this very broad group; I’ll say that the major influences on this form of astrology begin with Dane Rudhyar and go through Steven Arroyo to the present. While modern, western astrology is criticized quite a bit by many traditional and sidereal astrologers, this remains as the most widely popular form of astrology in the U.S. and Canada, which also probably makes it the easiest astrology to make a living with here. But it’s my guess that fewer and fewer astrologers in the future will do a strictly modern astrology, because there will be more and more criticism of their methods which abandon so much of the astrological tradition and because their peers will increasingly use more traditional methods. However, there should certainly be many mavericks who go their own way with doing modern astrology, and these could easily be some of the most popular teachers because they are likely to reach the largest public audiences, even if they are not the most popular with the “in” crowd in future astrological circles.
Research: This group could include financial astrologers or sports astrologers. I think it is only a matter of time before we see greater and greater respect for financial astrologers and for sports astrologers who make their predictions very publicly. Computer technologies (something that many of us younger astrologers might forget is quite recent) should only increase this trend. There must be some whiz kid(s) out there who is going to turn our astrological world upside down with her research. I really look forward to seeing that.
Organizations: This is a separate issue, but I’ll discuss it here. It has always been my wish that younger astrologers will become a part of the existing astrological organizations rather than abandoning them. And I do think this will happen. However, there is some amount of skepticism about the existing groups, because many younger astrologers feel they have experienced being neglected by them, and in many cases there are infamous “wolves” that are widely known to prey on newcomers. But ISAR in particular has made a conscious effort to give opportunities to younger astrologers like myself, so I know there are at least some very open doors for us. My main concern is not the larger organizations, which we desperately need for professional, legal, and certification issues, but the many smaller local groups. Unfortunately, these groups may have to have to become highly motivated and very creative to find ways to bring more young people to their meetings. One thing that younger astrologers can do to help this situation is to simply go to these groups. It’s easy to only want to hang out with people around your own age (no matter how old you are), but there is a wealth of knowledge and a lot of important history behind many of these local groups. We should support them as much as we possibly can. I myself am where I am today mainly because of the Metropolitan Atlanta Astrological Society (MAAS), so I know the value of these groups. I plan to write a column on this local organizations issue in the future.
Our field is a complicated one full of many different approaches and philosophies, so it is hard for me to envision how this study will ever become a relatively homogenous one. My feeling is that anyone who wants to see our field become unified in some dramatic way in terms of our approach and methods is probably going to be disappointed with our future. But perhaps, instead of wishing for something that is very unlikely to happen, we can put our attention towards embracing our differences and finding the value in our different perspectives. This doesn’t mean that major advances towards “tightening” our knowledge of astrology will not happen, because they almost certainly will. If nothing else, we are well on our way to becoming more educated about the different historical approaches to astrology, which I believe should serve as our foundation. Thirty years from now, I imagine that a standard education in western astrology will include a great number of Hellenistic concepts, for example.
I want to interrupt the train of thought about where we are headed for a moment, because there are three major things that I think younger (and all) astrologers would do well to focus on more. One is to support the development and expansion of certification programs such as ISAR’s. This program is so valuable because it aims not only at the minds of astrologers, but also at our hearts. Ethical understanding and consulting skills are an invaluable contribution to what it means to be certified as a professional astrologer. Not all schools cover these topics already, but we should all be knowledgeable in these areas. I hope this is just the beginning of these efforts to help astrologers become more effective and more professional consultants, regardless of what particular kind of astrology one practices.
The second thing I feel that we need to begin to focus on more is the kind of work being promoted by OPA, the Organization for Professional Astrologers. I experienced their retreat program for the first time in April of 2004. In OPA’s retreats, small groups of astrologers, led by a group facilitator, meet privately for 3-4 days. Different processes are undergone which address the needs of the astrologer, from experiencing each other’s consultation styles and receiving feedback, to peer group work that helps astrologers receive support about challenges with clients, to encouraging and helping one another with business goals. This is a very enriching experience that reaches you in a way that larger conferences do not, and so forms a great complement to larger, more lecture-oriented events.
The third thing that I think younger astrologers in particular need to focus on is the business and marketing aspect of being an astrologer. As AYA Board member Donna Youngblood recently wrote on the AYA forum, “You can have all the knowledge in the world but if you don’t know how to run a successful business, it ends up being just a hobby.” If we want our astrology to impact the world, we need to learn how to succeed in it. And that means we need to be able to make money doing what we love, so that we have more power to do it and do it well. If we bury our heads too much in our studies without also learning and implementing practical business and marketing skills, it can be a way of trying to escape from the world and thereby sabotaging our potential to contribute to it. It’s not a sin to make money; far from it. So let’s stop avoiding the subject like the plague.
Now returning to the original topic, where we go will depend largely on who steps up in the future and plays important roles. It would have been tough to predict the arrival of a Dane Rudhyar, a Lois Rodden, a Robert Schmidt, a Jim Lewis, a Liz Greene, a David Frawley, a Steven Arroyo, a Jeffrey Wolf Green, a Steven Forrest, a Robert Zoller, a Ray Merriman, a Donna Cunningham, a Richard Tarnas, or a Dennis Harness. So perhaps the only thing we can say with confidence about the future of our Uranian pastime (and I know many of us don’t feel it’s “Uranian” at all) is that we should expect the unexpected. In addition to our own organic and instinctive natural developments, technology is advancing so rapidly that it makes it even more impossible to image what will come next for astrology.
One of the most important factors in where astrology goes will depend on where our most popular teachers take it. Just one very influential teacher can and does change the entire course of our astrological tradition. We younger astrologers should recognize and be mindful of this power that many of us will some day have. Let’s inspire and support one another to make the most of our opportunities. I believe we each have a great responsibility to study our craft with a passion so that we can honor and remember our history and the many valid traditions of the past, while also having the courage to carry astrology into the future and blaze new—but substantiated—trails wherever needed. When we look back, we should look with the present and future in mind. When we look ahead, we should know and remember where we have come from and what foundations we stand upon.
Moses Siregar III uses both Western and Vedic astrology in his astrological practice, providing a holistic and alchemical emphasis for the benefit of his clients. In addition to his own groundbreaking system of relocational astrology and work with flower and vibrational essences, he offers private sessions, private tutoring, audio learning programs, and long-distance classes. His website, www.AstrologyForTheSoul.com, offers one of the most original free astrology courses on the internet, in addition to articles from numerous columnists. He has been published in international journals, and was among the faculty for the ISAR 2003 Conference. He can be reached by email at [email protected] or by phone toll free at 1-86-MORE-JOYFUL.