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In Canada, They Call it Therapy

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Last Updated: 08/13/2013 3:41 pm
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Looking at the events and experiences surrounding several past Chiron transits is one of the most efficient ways to get an understanding of a person and of their chart.
  • Looking at the events and experiences surrounding several past Chiron transits is one of the most efficient ways to get an understanding of a person and of their chart.


At Omega Institute last weekend, I did something that in retrospect was pretty daring—started a bunch of relatively new astrology students working with Chiron transits. Looking at the events and experiences surrounding several past Chiron transits is one of the most efficient ways to get an understanding of a person and of their chart.

These transits include Chiron’s squares, oppositions, and return to its own natal position (each of which happens for a brief phase once per 50-year cycle), as well as Chiron conjunct the ascendant, Sun and Moon.

A friend made up a nifty 100-year Chiron ephemeris that fits on six pages (for easy copying), I brought a new, very fast printer so we could have instant charts for the class and—with a little bit of mindfulness—we had everything we needed to get going.

After a brief introduction, I demonstrated the process on one student whose transits turned out to be quite dramatic and timed precisely to the 50-year orbit of Chiron. The themes of these events all related to his Moon/Chiron conjunction in Capricorn in the fourth house; the result being a long sequence of events involving his home, family, and security base. This was astrology in real life, not in theory; and it was astrology connected to a living client we could all see and dialogue with, rather than case study in a book.

Usually, astrology studies begin with the rote memorization of the planets through the signs and houses. Each placement is presumed to have a “meaning,” and that meaning is presumed to be static and definitive. For example, I have Venus in Taurus, and once I read in a book that this means I will go to the same restaurant every day and order the same thing. Which is precisely what I do, but I think it’s purely a coincidence.

The themes of Chiron, as I mentioned last week, are apropos of Omega Institute because it’s a holistic studies center dedicated to the raising of awareness, the two most important themes of this archetype. The risk of using Chiron is that material “too deep” will come up, but the friendly part is that when we’re truly serving as a facilitator, we don’t need to fix anyone or do very much, but rather bear witness to the human condition, and serve as an honest reflecting pool. I also thought it was excellent that Mercury in Gemini was stationing retrograde in an exact trine to Chiron as we began the class Friday night.

It can take an hour or two to do this process; I recommend that newer astrology students set aside a full session, and strive to accomplish nothing but hearing the client’s account of their biographical material.

At this point in my work, I can usually spot check the transits in about half an hour and get a feel for how someone who has come to me processes their changes. Once the lifetime Chiron transits are out in the open, the choices the client faces in the present moment, and the factors influencing them, are much more obvious. The name of the tune is pattern recognition, and seeing where the current experience of life fits into a larger, often hidden pattern—then bringing that pattern to light.

With this done, an astrologer and client can then work with the awareness of what has happened, what it represents, and what is happening—then use that information to look at options, consider possible courses of action, and to understand recurring issues much more clearly.

I think this is more effective and far more ethical than an astrologer picking up the chart and telling the client who they are. Yes, there are times to read a chart; Saturn in Capricorn has a different sense of existence than Saturn in Aquarius, and you need to factor that. An astrologer needs to be able to feel the Moon in a chart and be aware of the way that it can dominate the personality. But in a process workspace, the sense of existence needs to come from the client’s experiences rather than from the astrologer’s projections.

When I teach this process in Canada, they tell me it would be defined as “therapy,” and therefore questionably legal to practice without a therapist’s license. To which I reply, if there is an astrologer in the room with an ephemeris, a horoscope chart, and a client who thinks you’re an astrologer, who happens to be chasing a comet around the solar system, then that is clearly astrology. It may be “therapeutic,” but on the right day, so is going to the movies, a prostitute, or the gym. That an astrologer might listen to the client for an hour or two before making any pronouncements at all might be considered radical, but I think it’s common sense.

When I train established professional astrologers in this, one of their most burning questions is how to condition their clientele not to show up with questions like, “When should I dump my stock portfolio?” or “When is the fabulous guy gonna show up?”

This is easy. When you make the space for people to express their feelings, they usually open up. It happens rarely enough that anyone really cares or has time to listen, or the compassion to actually extend themselves emotionally.

Using the Chiron process, we admit that a person has feelings; and in doing so, we might even get underneath the resistance to being in a loving relationship, and we might understand something about values concerning money that would influence a financial decision. This seems more in the domain of spiritual work than therapy or traditional astrology, and I would remind everyone that the practice of both spirituality and astrology (and indeed of therapy) are protected speech under the First Amendment of the Constitution.

Such a process also does something vital, which is to teach astrologers how transits work, and thus how the natal chart works. It provides a window into human nature, and not merely astrological nature, as it attempts to explain human nature. Transits inherently remind us all that the cosmos is a thing in motion, and that planets act as waves much more than they act as particles.

Working this way runs precisely opposite to a dominant trend in mainstream astrology, which is harkening back to much older modes of work where things are perceived to be predetermined, predictable, and more orderly than life usually turns out to be.

In a world that grows more complex and uncertain every day, the idea that there is a simple answer to the many questions of existence is appealing. Astrology is terrible for finding easy answers. It is excellent for taking a complex view of a situation, seeing the many factors and people involved, observing that everything is in relationship to everything else; and then for making observations that may be reflected both in life and in the chart.

Closer to the heart of the matter is the need for astrology to face the many unknowns that come with existence, rather than attempting to explain the mystery away. That is religion: You co-opt philosophy, sex, death, and the meaning of life and sell it to people in a moral package.

An art form connected to an ever-expanding cosmos needs to look at mystery and show respect for mystery. We need to recognize that each client and each reader presents an entirely different, truly unique worldview, metaphysical view, sexual orientation, and set of specific needs.

We need to recognize that astrologers come to the work with their own issues. I encouraged my students, in particular, to know their sexual issues and to understand the specific ways in which religion and their parents messed them up. We may not be able to resolve all of this material before we start working with people, but if we know our issues it will be that much easier to keep them out of the way of our clients. We will be able to assist people who are happier than us, more successful than we are, or who dare to be freer than we would ever dream of being. And we can also work with those who face situations far more grim than we would ever wish for anyone, but not be coming from a sense of pity or the need to fix anyone.

Along these lines, I recommend that anyone who is working with people as an astrologer be in a therapy process. I don’t think it’s necessary to have “completed” the process, but rather to be in deep enough to feel vulnerable, and to have opened the lid to the unknown within themselves. Part of therapy is claiming what you feel, what you know and what you don’t know, and if you get into those habits, you will be a lot less likely to inflict damage on the people who come to you for help. And if you have a therapist you trust and can go to, you will have a mentor who can guide you through difficult situations with clients, which may arise from time to time.

This is a tall order, I know. But the short way around the tree is to listen, and in order for an astrologer to listen, the first thing that needs to happen is that an astrologer needs to know himself or herself. Clients need to be willing to speak about their lives, their needs, and what they want to create with the work—but this is much more likely to happen if the astrologer is open-minded and able to have a modicum of objectivity on their own situation. If your buttons get pushed really easily, or if you can’t at least make a space where this doesn’t happen, then it would be a lot better for you to not work with people until you get clear about your own inner condition.

There is also a need to have faith in creativity. In other words, instead of telling a client what is going to happen, it makes much more sense to ask them what they want to happen, what they don’t want to happen, and to use the awesome power of astrology and awareness to help them make the necessary choices to get the results they need. And this, too, needs to stand apart from spiritual fascism and New Age megalomania: We are only cocreators of the world; it does quite a bit of cocreating with us, and to us.

I think the single most significant thing that an astrologer can do is tune into the creative force behind it all. This is easy: You can start by asking for help, and agreeing that the work be devoted to the greatest good for all concerned. Then you gently move through the plasma of consciousness and see what comes to the surface.

Chiron by its nature turns the discussion to receptive mode, puts the emphasis on healing, and has a useful way of dedicating everything to raising awareness.

And, hey—this is what I learned in my first experience teaching astrology at a world-class holistic study center last weekend.

Eric Francis Coppolino has set up shop in Uptown Kingston and is taking astrology (and photography) clients in person, without a waiting list. He also has a fine website with daily content, photos and many excellent new features. You can reach him locally at (845) 331-0355, and on the net at PlanetWaves.net.

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