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My first full-time job as a professional oracle was working for the Jackie Stallone Psychic Hotline. One night, the phone rang, and it was a very young woman, probably under the legal age to be calling. She was shaken up, and said she'd just gotten off the phone with another operator who had told her that she was pregnant with a space alien's child. Now, you might think that's ridiculous, but regardless, I was confronted with a scared person whose faith had been abused by an authority she had trusted.

It was not a difficult situation to straighten out. For one thing, her own intuition had told her to pick up the phone and call for a second opinion, so she was seeking reassurance of what she probably knew. I saw no suggestion of pregnancy in her chart, much less from some extraterrestrial being. In fact, I saw nothing amiss. I told her this, plain and professional, and then checked in with her on here-and-now matters of regular pregnancy (i.e., test kits and birth control).

At the end of our session, I added that no one had the right to scare her like that. But astrologers, horoscope writers and psychics have bad days. Their personal stuff can get in the way of their interpretations. Some are not trained very well, and, though most astrologers lean toward the tolerant and loving side, a few are just a little too old-fashioned to be functioning well in today's speed-of-light world.

Astrology as Information

We live in an information-based society. It's true that most of what's called information is really advertising, and most of the rest is not especially enlightened. But every day we spend money to find things out, whether it's from cable television, an insurance agent or a professional astrologer. We must continually evaluate this information and decide what it's worth, and whether we want it.

If we come across information that goes against our better judgment, we need to make a conscious choice not to take it on, and then do more research. If you get an astrological reading (or read something in a book) that seems hopeless, unusually negative or involves a prediction of death or disease, it's a good idea to get a second opinion. You can also ask the astrologer exactly what transit they saw that caused them to reach their opinion, and spend some time in a bookstore looking up different interpretations of that event.

But it's not always easy to stay cool and calm. People generally seek out an astrologer when they hit rough water. There are deep questions, or trouble is brewing. Or there are high expectations, like thinking you've met your soulmate. Most people get around to calling the astrologer after they become convinced that their therapist doesn't comprehend them, when talking to the minister is out of the question, when their friends bail out of the issue and if they can't talk with their spouse, mate or lover about the situation (an affair, for example).

People hand us real problems as well as their genuine trust, because they have nowhere else to place it. They do so with some level of expectation that astrologers are practiced in the ways of wisdom and can use their tools to see the greater picture or the deeper levels of reality. Often this is true, but that expectation puts astrologers in a position of even greater responsibility. More important, it puts the burden on the client to consciously select a good practitioner—in a phrase, one who will teach the client to trust herself.

Prevention is the Best Medicine

It's best to start out right. Whether you are seeking an astrologer for a first opinion or a second, doing it well is not as mysterious as it seems. Most astrologers have homepages, and others have written books or articles which will give you an opportunity to read their ideas and get a sense of their philosophy on life.

Go for a sense of affinity. You may not understand astrology, but if their ideas resonate, that's a good sign. Astrology is a highly interpretive art, and the person you're working with will have everything to do with the results that you get. This is especially true under more difficult circumstances, when their creativity, insight, optimism and, more than anything, open-mindedness will be especially valuable tools.

Also ask: How did you find out about the person? Do they come recommended, and by whom? How long have they been in practice? Who are their clients? How did they learn their craft? Do they rely on "credentials" or on experience? What else do they do in life (relatively few astrologers practice full time)? What is their religious background?

The astrologers I know are happy to let prospective clients interview them. Astrologers love to talk. The questions you ask give them insight into who you are, and astrologers don't usually have time to waste on clients who are going to drive them nuts. They should want to know about you, too. So you don't need to feel like you're wasting their time by asking questions, including explaining your basic situation, and getting their general sense of things.

Having Reasonable Expectations

It's important to remember that astrologers are people, even if they tend to have mystical or spiritual leanings. They cannot solve your problems, and the best you can hope for is to have a real discussion from which you draw some insights about your life. The more insight you give the astrologer about what you think, the better they can serve you.

I think it's best to consider yourself the captain and the astrologer the navigator. A navigator won't say whether the ship is going to sink, but he can plot the best course through a storm. But the captain has the final say.



Eric Francis, the Seattle-based astrologer and essayist, writes Planet Waves. His twice-weekly horoscope and news service covers astrology, personal growth, environmental issues and political affairs. Eric blends astrology with investigative journalism and personal narrative to create a humorous, alive, and even responsible news source unique in the world.

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For more information about Eric Francis, click here.

Other StarIQ articles by Eric Francis:

  • Venus and Mars Retrograde: Looking Back, Looking Within   1/25/2014
  • Beyond Death and Dowry: A New Sexuality   8/11/2012
  • Holistic Astrology: An Introduction to Chiron   3/17/2012
  • Beyond Death and Dowry: A New Sexuality   9/3/2004
  • When Lovers Become Parents and What to do About It   2/12/2001
  • Imbolc: In the Belly of the Stars   2/1/2001
  • Unbroken Chain: Samhain, Halloween and Scorpio   10/31/2000
  • The Kursk: Things Fall Apart   9/20/2000
  • Go Figure! Newspaper Astrologers: How Do They Do It?   7/12/2000
  • Spicing Up Mercury Retrograde   7/6/2000
  • The Nuclear Axis   6/30/2000

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