Letter sent in response to article in the Astrological Association about qualifications:
I followed with interest the debate about qualifications and “professionalisation” of Astrology in the Journal. It occurs to me that as Astrologers we are in a unique position to consider this topic given our astrological knowledge. Professionalisation and qualifications are very much the realm of Saturn. In myth, Saturn castrated his father Uranus and threw his testicles into the sea and from the waves Aprhodite (or Venus) was created. This myth seems to me to be central to the debate. Uranus is original and inventive; it brings new ideas and revolutionises the existing structure (Saturn). In turn each new idea takes form and structures are built around it until it becomes the established norm and eventually calcifies (Saturn castrating Uranus), at which point Uranus arises to break through the calcification. It is an eternal cycle.
I understand the desire to legitimise Asrology and I am a big fan of the work Nick Campion and others have done in infiltrating the academic world, but I am wary of aping the Saturnian traps that bedevil our current materialistic world view. I think the point of the current Pluto-Uranus square is to cause us to become more conscious of these dangers and to break down some of the Saturnian calcification that has taken place. Chrissy Philp’s work links Saturn with The Receptive or Yin in the I-Ching and links Uranus with The Creative or Yang. The I-Ching is very clear in stating that when the Receptive tries to lead rather than serve it is destructive to both. The fact that Venus was born of the battle between Saturn and Uranus is interesting in that Venus rules balance, awareness of others and relationship. The fruit of this battle between the masculine (yang) and feminine (yin) principles in Greek society gave rise to democracy and civilization, which at its heart recognises the value of each individual and their importance to the whole. It requires compromise and a willingness to see others’ point of view and thus avoid individuals imposing their views on others (tyranny).
I work in the business world using astrology (and the I-Ching) to coach leaders in major international organisations and I have seen first hand what happens to organisations when Saturn leads rather than serving. I was at Ernst & Young when the accountancy profession lost sight of the fact that its primary purpose was to serve the public by providing independent opinions on the accounts of companies. The result was Enron and the collapse of Arthur Andersen. The same thing happened when banks lost sight of the fact that they had a duty to the public. In Science, forgetting that Science is about open-minded enquiry and instead focusing only on that which can be measured or quantified tangibly has been deadening and had a damaging effect on disciplines like Astrology. I have also worked in Education as a chair of governors and here too the focus on ambition, qualifications and standards has been lopsided and very damaging to genuine education to the extent that it is no longer about education but rather about teaching to pass exams.
Astrology has survived precisely because it was studied by those with a genuine interest in all that it offered and a desire to understand, not because it conformed to societal norms and regulations. I am all in favour of those who have a natural preference for Saturn being good at organisations and wanting to gain qualifications. I am also in favour of structure, organisation, hard work and experience to serve the development of Astrology (big thumbs up for all that Saturn offers). Yet, I am also on the side of those who are more Uranian or Jupiterian not wanting to be part of organisations or pursue qualifications. In turn I am also in favour of those who are more Neptunian being more mystically minded. I am not in favour of exclusivity because that seems anti-astrology. I don’t think any planet or any chart is any better than any other planet or chart. Personalities that like don’t like qualifications are just as important as those that don’t – I am not in favour of any planet or chart dominating. It is perhaps no coincidence that this debate has been sparked more broadly as Saturn moves into Sagittarius and squares Neptune. My own experience working as a coach (using Astrology and the I-Ching) to senior leaders in Business is that the myth that qualifications and regulations and standards prevent incompetence is precisely that – a myth. I have friends who are heads of some of the most respected psychology schools but while they have a huge amount of knowledge and much as I love them, I would not recommend them to others who were in need. Similarly I have friends who have no formal qualifications in psychology yet are the wisest people I know and would be the first people I would send those in need to. Most religions are created by figures who have a dynamic enlightened perspective. These people embody an inclusive approach, yet those who follow them soon create structures and rules around them and before long the rules have become more important than the truth or heart and they have become exclusive while preaching inclusiveness.
The debate in the Journal described those who did not have formal qualifications as self-taught which struck me as odd, implying that they had a subjective and one-dimensional view of astrology. Those I know who do not have formal qualifications are far from self-taught, they simply have charts that do not do exams yet they are often avid learners from others. When I look at the astrological community I love the fact that it includes formal learning for those whose charts like formal learning; informal learning for those whose charts embody informal learning, mystical crystal ball gazing people, scientific rational leaning people. Can we stay in the middle and value everyone’s charts or will we be tempted to try and control Astrology? If we do, I fear we will destroy a very beautiful inheritance and we will have missed the central point of the subject we study.
One response to “On Qualifications”
Nick, I suspect the ‘profession’ of astrology is not alone in this dilemma. I know that Homeopathy is facing the same challenge and it seems falling for the same argument (in my view). Wanting to be accepted by the very establishment status quo that would banish them altogether if given the chance! Like you I agree that proper dialogue is necessary however one should be indeed be wary of the “traps that bedevil our current materialistic world view”. And in the case of homeopathy it is a scientific world view that by design has excluded the homeopathic principles themselves. Trying to fit into this design, someone else rules that you know are too limiting, will always make you a second class citizen battling your own smaller and smaller corner.