Astrology tools: What always attracted me to astrology was that there was no ‘right’ way to do it. Using different methods and calculations different astrologers can end up making accurate interpretations, sometimes shining a light on a different facet of a person/situation.
My own evolution as an astrologer started as most people’s did reading the standard textbooks and practising. Along the way I added other techniques when the standard ones didn’t tell the whole story.
BUT – key point I never believe everything I am told by accepted authorities. Get the basics right first and then challenge, argue, make up your own mind. Some of the old astrology books have their own slant on specifics and are not 100% right.
Decide early on which house system to follow and don’t get distracted by didacts who attempt to explain the theoretical underpinnings. I use Koch which is a middle of the road system. If others want to use Placidus or Equal House, that’s great but I’m not budging.
On chart interpretation – planets in signs and in houses and in aspects throw up around 2500 pieces of information so you have to prioritise. There used to be an excellent pamphlet by Tracy Marks (I think) which had a tick-list. After a while it becomes almost second nature to home in on what ‘feels’ important, so intuition may play a part. I’m drawn to major configurations – planets joined together in groups by Grand Trines, T Squares, Grand Crosses etc – since they dominate a chart.
It’s crucial to learn to live with contradictions since human beings aren’t robots and can have nice and nasty bits sitting side by side.
Predictions: Transits through houses give a broad context to what is happening. Transits to planets can give useful information but often don’t provide enough. Transits to a major configuration are important since the effect reverberates round all the other planets involved and can involve a period of several years of major challenge. I focus mainly on transits by the four outer planets Saturn, Uranus, Neptune and Pluto with an eye on Jupiter. I ignore the inner planet transits as being passing moments.
Transits to midpoints will fill in many blanks, can be powerful in effect and are indispensable when birth times are questionable or not known and even sometimes when it is. I don’t tend to get hung up on midheaven and ascendant, partly because I often work with charts whose start/birth time is iffy. And even where it is known with reasonable certainty, I’ve seen life changing times which didn’t involve either.
Secondary Progressions – of the Moon through the houses are illuminating. And when Progressed Mars hard aspects natal planets there is usually a seismic effect. But Progressions, calculated by a day equated to a year after birth, are slow moving with only Moon, Mercury, Venus, Mars in play and rarely throwing up aspects so again not enough.
Solar Arc Directions which move the planets by approximately one degree per year are much more informative and have a profound effect when the Solar Arc Planet aspects a natal planet. When a major configuration moves by Solar Arc to connect with another major natal configuration there will be a game changing crisis.
Solar Returns – I dutifully do and they can sometimes be illuminating but not always and I leave them usually to last on the list.
My work order is:
Natal/Solar Arc: Pull up natal chart in a two-chart wheel with the Solar Arc Directions on the outer wheel.
Progressions: Check the Progressed positions for Progressed Moon house position and Mars, keeping an eye on Venus conjunct the natal Sun. The latter doesn’t fall in every lifetime but can be a romantic highlight.
Midpoints: Cast a glance down through the midpoints to see which are catching transiting hard aspects – mainly Sun, Mars and Jupiter midpoints, others when necessary.
North Node: When clients come with existential questions, the North Node is worth examining in detail since it encapsulates most of the chart’s meaning.
Harmonics: I came to them late and find them of idiosyncratic interest. They are merely a fancy way of plotting the more minor aspects which you can’t see as easily as squares, oppositions, trines and sextiles. They do seem to work well enough, giving embellished descriptions of differing talents and characteristics.
Books – I mainly used ones which are out-of-print some of them now. But Margaret Hone is a good beginner start. Then Robert Hand for transits and aspects and relationship charts. Sakoian & Acker for planetary positions and also synastry. Stephen Arroyo is recommendable. Bil Tierney for configurations – Dynamics of Aspect Analysis. Liz Greene – for many books especially Saturn, good for a psychological slant. Martin Schulman on Moon’s Nodes. David Hamblin on Harmonics, as well as Michael Baigent, Baigent also good for Mundane Astrology. Ebertin for midpoints. Robert Blaschke for Progressions.
Solar Arcs – I think Noel Tyl wrote a book which I’ve never read. Trial and error is what taught me.
There are also myriad websites which are helpful – Café Astrology and Bob Marks as well as Dark Pixie come to mind.
The best tool is practice. Start with those you know since you’ve a better idea of what to expect. Though there will be surprises. Two of my family had charts completely against my expectation. The third was obvious. If people flatly deny what you think their chart says – you may be wrong but more likely it is a blind spot on their part and not a good idea to push too hard but don’t let it dent your self-confidence. Learn to keep your own counsel and wait see – it usually unspools itself at some point.
40 thoughts on “Astro-approaches – hit your own stride”
What a gift! Thank you, Marjorie.
I’m not sure if it is too late to ask questions in this topic (and I do hope for a response). If it is, I will repost the question in the usual “Questions and comments” thread.
Given that Solar Arcs use a day-per-year approach to move planets around the chart, that means that the Solar Arc chart for 2022 would be approximately in the same place as 1662 (360 years ago). I see many similarities between that era and the current age, at least for England; deep passionate divisions between two ideologically divided factions that split families apart (the English Civil War and Brexit), purity of thought being held in high esteem (Puritanism and the woke movement). 2020 (the resolution of Brexit) would have been 360 years after the Restoration and the closure after the Civil War.
Obviously social wounds did not heal overnight, but they were not as open and as noxious as in the Civil War. Of course, that would also mean a more authoritarian period in English history, with echoes of the Test and Corporation Acts, etc and suppression of the Catholics, etc.
The Restoration was also followed by Puritanism being shown the door in favour of a gaier Merrie Monarchie. Do you think we will see a 21st century overturning of the woke movement and a more lighthearted period?
Could you comment on whether you would agree with this interpretation of using Solar Arc progression (of studying the periods of history in multiples of 360 year intervals)?
I really enjoy your website, thanks for all your hard work and curiosity. I wonder if you like Bernadette Brady’s Predictive Astrology? Brilliant on eclipses. Other excellent books are Sue Tompkins Aspects in Astrology and The Contemporay Astrologers Handbook, and Frank Clifford’s Getting to the Heart of your Chart and his book on Solar Arc directions. All great reference books, so I never stop learning after studying astrology for over 50 years!
Those are all great suggestions, I second all of them
Thanks Marjorie, very interesting, and I will make a note of the books. Early in my astrology quest I came across the book “Astrology For The Soul” by Jan Spiller, about the moon’s nodes. It was phenomenally accurate, and if I had only been able to follow the very good advice given, it would have set me on the right path.
I agree,very interesting reading by Jan Spiller.
It’s a book to return to now and then
Thank you for that recommendation, I’m interested in any good books about the moon’s nodes.
Again, thanks so much for this informative teaching.
Quick question with reference to your mention of the Progressed chart: I am wondering what your take is on the person who has a clear 12th house natally but now finds they have a 12th house stellium in their Progressed chart? And for anyone else who has seen this in play, happy to hear your thoughts!
You’re getting a catch-up lesson about what 12th house energy feels like. Again an ancient pamphlet which she may have pulled into her book by Tracy Marks is v helpful. You can treat the progressed planets as if they were another birth chart in a more minor key. A whole new arena of your life to ponder.
I ventured into astrology during the mid-1990’s…after receiving some intense Reiki training. I would venture to state that I “saw” and “sensed” garbage in a client’s life that astrology didn;t clarify or explain but yet the client insisted was visible. It was easier to just hand back the $$ and walk away. Clients who insisted that I caused them to be “ill” after a reiki cleansing (for example: projectile vomiting on the job) were so full of anger and hatred that I stopped working on humans and focused on animals. It is common for the lower dregs to seek out blame than seek out a path toward happiness and balance.
Sorry to hear that you were so sensitive to your clients, I have been on the opposite side… where the ‘healer’ sucked the life right out of me… they were life vampires… I HAD to stop the treatment.
It is my understanding that Reiki Healers are “trained” to protect both themselves and their clients from any toxic transference. How did you manage that?
Thank you to Marjorie for her amazing teaching and sharing.
Somehow my original comment responded to a different post! Sorry
One of my colleagues “back then” was always feeling drained, like a soul-suck with that Reiki healer. Afterwards, my friend was left with echos from that healer’s traumatic life experiences.
Personally, I didn;t feel those reverberations…I knew that the healer had some messed up life styles, so I sheltered myself. I ignored and brushed away the bad vibes and reflected only on the good vibes from that person. Eventually I avoided people altogether and worked only with my cats and occasonally horses.
I had been screwing up my courage to ask you to do a post along these lines, and suddenly here it is, all my questions answered! Your continuing generosity (and prolificity) are remarkable. Thanks so much.
Thanx for your methods Marj appreciate your time on it. I’m 83, studied astrology for 43 years, with a library
of 100 astrology books. After all those years I finally found the one I rate as the best Astrology Analysis book
I’ve ever read…..it’s THE MAGIC THREAD: Astrological Chart Interpretation Using Depth Psychology. He
uses Astrology and Jungian Functions. No book has ever impressed me more.
Richard Idemon was a lovely man, gone too soon. I attended a workshop with him teaching along with Liz Greene in Italy long long ago. He was an excellent astrologer.
Commendably sensible, practical and down to earth (as one might say).
I could wish most other astrologers could be as pragmatic.
Thank you for this post! It’s very enlightening on how different and similar the learning process can be!
I personally first approached Astrology as a teen, when there was, quite literally, one text book in my language in market. There were astrology programs, but they were expensive and you either had to order them by post or travel. So, I was looking at basic of some very advanced concepts, such as Astrocartography before knowing my own Ascendant or Moon sign. When I found another book with simplified ephemeris, I was disappointed by a lot of my chart. So, I only really looked at it again when Astrology programs and blogs became available online. At this point, I also lived in a larger city, where English language textbooks were available. I’d say I’ve been studying Astrology more or less constantly since 2004-2005.
I have some idiosyncrasies. For instance, I don’t like predictive work in general (wishy washy Libran that I am), but when I do it, I use equal house and tend to look at Saturn, because experience tells me Saturn passage from house to another can affect people’s life more than just about anything else. One predictive tool that I frequently use is Solar Return. If not else, it will tell people if they have a more private or public year. Most importantly, I like combining tarot and astrology. I’m not a psychic either, my readings mostly reflect my mood (for instance, I get a lot, and I mean a lot, Wands/Fire right now). However, I find tarot imaginary helpful with Astrology. For instance, for certain kind of Mercury, I might see a certain tarot card associated to the planet/position and the struggle comes clear.
But always a pleasure to read interpretation from people who’ve spent sometimes decades studying Astrology or are just plain talented (I’ve read blog posts and comments from people who profess they are “new” to this, but still manage to make realizations that leave me stunned).
Thank you kindly for this very generous article, Marjorie.
Wow, tr. Uranus is currently conjunct and square a number of my Sun, and some Jupiter, midpoints. No wonder it has been really feeling like such as drag lately but couldn’t pick that up so clearly in my chart.
Thanks very much Marjorie, especially for the Solar Arc information. I’ve only started looking at those since reading your site. I had rarely found progressions helpful, or only when a similar combination was reflected by transits to the natal chart. Solar Arc seems to make more sense. Also, midpoints can be quite amazing sometimes.
Can I ask what you think about transits to the Solar Arc or Progressed chart? Do you think they work?
And interesting what you say about Solar Returns. I’ve noticed that they work for years when something huge happens – a marriage, move of location, major bereavement – but are hard to figure out for less dramatic years, which may after all contain the seeds of a future big moment.
Transits to Solar Arcs can have quite an effect. On Progressed postions I suspect less so.
Thanks Marjorie. I’ll look at those more closely.
Thank you Marjorie. Another great example of why we love your blog so much 🙂
A fascinating and educational post, Marjorie. Thank you. Could you possibly explain why the north node encapsulates most of the chart’s meaning?
To be honest I’m not sure. It’s just what I’ve noticed when struggling with unanswerable questions from a client. Once you’ve pulled together what the chart says – look at the North/South Node and it’s almost all there in shorthand.
The North Node is where we are going and the South Node where we have been – so in one sense it lays out the life’s journey depending on on the pattern/template/hand of cards we were dealt at birth. It’s less about prediction and more about which characteristics need to change to get fulfilment.
Can you recommend any books on the nodes, Marjorie?
Oh, rereading see that you did.
Thank you marjorie,
Learning from you and your post every day. Your blog is my favourite
Thank you the insights Marjorie.
I wish I was that methodical
Margorie, it’s a book by Tracy Marks not a pamphlet called ‘ The Art of Chart Interpretation’ i think? it has a synthesis section that is great to help you pull everything together. Her books and a good astrology evening class pretty much taught me astrology.
Thank you Majorie very informative
I was looking at your chart the other day and March 26th (I think) is a big day for you. Is it your Uranus and the Nodes.? I thought you might be bringing out some kind of school learning book on astrology, instead you have started doing this kind of teaching post. I like.
Wonderful lesson.Thank you very much, Marjorie
An informative and very helpful article, many thanks Marjorie.
Thank you Marjorie for this post. I have some understanding of Vedic Astrology and am excited to look into some of the resources you have listed in your post.
Thank you very much for this post, Marjorie.
It may be worth pinning this article and the Astrological musings article within the News section (or perhaps within a section of its own) as a guide to novice astrologers, a sort of Astrology 101.
Absolutely agree with unmystic mum. A textbook would be even better!
Thank you Marjorie, very much, for giving this glimpse into the way you work and why you value some techniques, e.g Koch house system, over others (always wondered!)
An invaluable service, as ever.
Thank you for this generous post describing your process and it is indeed a very credible road map for anyone interested in improving their understanding of astrology. Every time I learn something I find it changes my life. For example, taking my North Node seriously stopped me from making the same mistakes in my career and relationships. My next move will I think be to have a look at Solar Arcs. Thank you again.