At first sight Astrology would seem the perfect medium for a beginner because:
a) It is a science, with hours of hard (impressive looking) work to elicit the simplest facts b) It is immensely complicated with the position of the sun and nine planets and the relationship of the planets to each other all taken into account c) It has gained such respect that there are now correspondence courses to teach you the basics.
The fact is, it doesn't just seem complicated - it is complicated. Hours of mind-crunching toil are needed to work out the simplest facts and if you are the sort of person prepared to do that you'll never make a real bluffer.
Don't be tempted into thinking you can cut corners either. Because it is so popular you cannot move without coming across an 'expert'. Make the slightest slip and it's "Did you take an hour off to allow for British Summer Time?" and "Are you sure you computed Sidereal Time correctly?"
It is far better to be the know-all when someone else is trying to impress, and all the time have a bag of Runes or a Tarot pack in your pocket ready to win the trust of the disillusioned audience.
However, Astrology is so much part of modern day augury that you need at least the appearance of a deep knowledge. You can then persuade people that although you are an expert in Astrology you gave it all up because you found Ichthyomancy (predictions based on the entrails of fish) so much more effective.
The theory of Astrology is based on the fact that the waxing and waning of the Moon has an effect on the moods of humans. (Whether it really has been proved doesn't matter. No-one but a lunatic would argue.) Therefore, astrologers assert, the movement of much larger heavenly bodies (the sun and the eight planets) will also have an effect on different aspects of our life.
So astrologers carefully compute the position of all the planets at the exact moment of birth - a natal chart. Why the moment of birth is important is mysteriously glossed over. In fact it would be far more scientific to suggest that the moment of conception would be the time when the influence of the planets would be most significant. But it has to be admitted that lying in bed with a stop watch trying to work out the exact moment of conception might just take some of the romance out of life.
This needn't prevent you mentioning the fact if anyone tries to show off the fruits of their Academy of Astrological Science's Diploma - Part II.
It is vital that you totally dismiss the astrological predictions presented in the 'popular press'. Look surprised and/or smile condescendingly if anyone admits that they 'read their stars every day".
Any arguments on this score can be crushed quite easily by pointing out that if one believed in this form of prediction a twelfth of the world's population should be 'prepared to receive a letter from an uncle you didn't know you had' on the same day. This would imply that one or two head-hunters in the Borneo jungle who have had no contact with the outside world are in for a big surprise that day.
You then explain that what people call their 'Sign of the Zodiac' is merely the sign that the Sun was in at the moment of their birth. Of equal importance is the position of:
a) their Ascendant - what sign was coming up over the horizon at the moment of birth b) their Mid-Heaven or Medium Coeli (the same thing but sounds much better in Latin) - what sign was directly overhead at birth, and c) the Planets - Moon, Mercury, Jupiter, Mars, Venus, Saturn, Pluto, Uranus and Neptune.
All 12 signs of the zodiac come over the horizon every day so you need to know the exact moment of your birth to decide which sign was on the horizon at that instant. With the sign changing a degree every four minutes, half an hour out can make a tremendous difference. It therefore needs to be calculated very carefully using an ephemeris (a book of charts with the positions of all the planets) and pages of calculations. This is just too much trouble for the average bluffer. As it decides what your inner nature is like, just pick one you think suits the situation.
This also needs careful calculation and the purpose it serves is so vague that it definitely isn't worth the trouble. It covers the personality that you present to the world so everyone should know that already.
You need at least a vague idea of what the planets signify and what aspects of your life they are supposed to rule. It is also important to recognise the symbol used to signify the planets. For instance if you were writing out your interpretation of a natal chart never write the word 'Mars' when you can draw the little circle with the arrow sticking out of the top. Not only does it prove you know the subject, it means that clients have constantly to ask you what all the little signs mean, making you indispensable. Here is a brief description of each.
This is the one thing everyone knows. If someone says they are a Virgo it means that the Sun was in the sign of Virgo when they were born. It only changes once a month but no-one can make up their mind when it is. Astrologers put the cusp (the day when it moves from one house to another) at anything between the 19th and 24th of each month. The sun sign really is important, strongly influencing the way you lead your life, but never admit this to anyone. Because everyone knows about it, it is best to belittle its importance in favour of Neptune or whatever your favourite planet is. Key word: life force.
This deals with all sorts of mysterious things like motherhood and nurture. As it follows its regular pattern of waxing and waning, it also covers habits. Always talk about intuition when you talk about the moon. (Intuition should be brought into at least three out of every four sentences in every form of fortune telling.) Key word: intuition.
Mercury, the messenger of the gods deals with all forms of communications and travel. Mercury moves very quickly through the heavens, which is why so many astrological predictions have mysterious letters and interesting journeys cropping up. Whenever you talk about Mercury it's worthwhile mentioning that though most people think of it as a 'male' deity the symbolism is purely female. The sign of Mercury is the sign for Venus with the crescent Moon on top. Key word: communications.
As everyone remembers, Venus was the goddess of Love so the movements of this planet about the heavens have an intimate influence on our love/sex life. It is therefore the planet that people take the most interest in. Key word: sex.
The arrow is the clue. As war is not as popular as it once was astrologers usually try to make the God of War palatable by talking about self-assertiveness and energy. Key word: violence.
As king of the gods, Jupiter rules all the important things like ambition and career. Therefore he is quite often as welcome as Venus. Key word: career.
There's got to be one trouble maker. The Romans let Saturn rule the underworld and he's not much cheerier nowadays. Astrologers talk about restrictions and discipline but Saturn is really about luck - and most of its bad. Key word: fate.
When the old astrologers apportioned the duties for all the planets, they didn't know about Uranus, Neptune and Pluto (no-one noticed Uranus until 1781, and Pluto was only spotted hiding behind Neptune in 1931). By that time they had naturally given all the interesting duties to the planets they knew about and were really scraping the bottom of the barrel to find something for the last three to influence. What self-respecting planet would govern 'regeneration' (Pluto) or refinement through dissolution' (Neptune)? People are really only interested in things like sex (Venus) and violence (Mars).
This means that you can make up your own interpretation for these planets without conflicting with any traditional astrological beliefs. Modern popular astrologers are inclined to pay a great amount of attention to them, just because no-one is in a position to argue with their interpretation.
It is often worth using the alternative name for Uranus - Herschel. Not only is it handy for confusing people, it also sounds more seemly to say "I find Herschel particularly interesting" than "I find Uranus
Earticularly interesting." It is named after Sir William erschel (the man who discovered it) just as Pluto was named after its discoverer (better known as a close friend of Mickey Mouse).
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