Intuition in Astrology

 Astrology is not just an intellectual enterprise (although it does depend on concepts); rather, it is a training ground for intuition, or what one might call “direct knowing”.  This is why a beginning astrologer with psychic ability will generally give more correct information to a client than a non-psychic astrologer who has been studying the subject for a lifetime.  Although the study of astrology does require much left-brain activity (learning what different symbols and combinations of symbols mean), true  comprehension and application of astrology is more a matter of opening up our intuitive channels, of letting go of our ego defenses, intellectual belief systems, and doubts, and of learning to respect and respond to our gut feelings. 

 This was easier to do for astrologers in centuries past than it is now, because the trend in our modern society has been toward rationalistic and materialistic solutions to problems.  We are taught to rely upon so-called objective thinking, and to distrust our own feelings, which cannot be corroborated and therefore leave us standing alone.  Indeed, the modern trend in astrology has been to move away from intuition.

 One trend in this direction is represented by humanistic astrology, which eschews prediction and opts instead for a Gestalt approach, relying upon psychological mumbo-jumbo instead of telling people what’s really happening, and probably going to happen, in their lives.  Humanistic astrology has something of a sour grapes flavor to it; beyond that, it can do a disservice to clients who are not (usually) as interested in a holistic analysis of their human potential as they are in solid information about their love lives, finances, health, etc.

 Another trend has been towards rationalistic astrology, which seeks to recast astrology in terms which would be acceptable to mainstream science.   Astrologers of this school try to find statistical proof for the verities of astrology, which – as Michel Gauquelin after a lifetime of effort has shown – is impossible except for the tiniest little bits here and there. These astrologers attempt to remove from astrology anything that smacks of superstition or mysticism. Thus most astrologers of the rationalistic school reject the use of “unscientific” signs and houses, even though there is no more statistical proof of the validity of midpoints than there is for signs and houses.  In their toadying to the scientific establishment (which rejects them anyway, as it rejected Gauquelin) rationalistic astrologers risk being led into intellectual dishonesty.

 Such trends notwithstanding, astrology is still one of the last strongholds of spiritual truth in our society. Most of what we do nowadays is done on the basis of logic, conditioning, immutable schedules, what other people expect from us or would approve of, rather than on the basis of what feels right.  In other words, we do what we think we ought to do instead of doing what our hearts tell us to do.  And while this is a viable strategy for success in rationalist-materialist society, you can’t do astrology this way.

 To be an intuitive astrologer, it helps to have the sign Aquarius emphasized in your natal horoscope. But even if you’re not a “natural”, it is still possible to emulate those Aquarian qualities which facilitate relating to other people on an intuitive level: democracy, seeing other people as your equals, being willing to relate to people from all walks of life and stations of society without shame, superiority, or false humility. If you are not capable of seeing others as your equals, then you are defending yourself against them; and whatever you are doing to defend yourself against them will prevent you from psychically attuning yourself to them.

 To get your intuition flowing you must be willing to fly with your hunches. If it’s important to you that you always be right, then you’ll never make it as an intuitive astrologer. The channel through which insight flows is blocked by the door of worrying about whether you’re right or wrong. Only the courage to be wrong can open you enough to feel what’s going on, what the real needs of the client are, and what his or her chart is trying to tell you.  Once you’re no longer afraid of looking foolish, you just say the first thing that pops into your mind.

 Everyone who visits an astrologer does so because some question is weighing on them.  Even when they claim to be consulting you out of mere curiosity, in truth there is some problem bugging them, or else they wouldn’t have come to you.  It’s your job as an astrologer to elicit and address their problem.  This is not done by questioning them, but by examining their horoscopes and by staying open to their feelings; and this can be done even when the clients are not physically present.

 In everyday life we tend to block the feelings which other people send our way. We’re usually more concerned with maintaining our own self-image, with impressing people, with winning their sympathy, than we are with listening to them and understanding where they are coming from. When interpreting charts it is necessary to put aside your own attitudes and prejudices and see the clients and their problems from their own point of view, without and judgments or criticism.  You have to go into an interpretation without a point of view of your own. 

 One good way of doing this is to begin every horoscope interpretation with an invocation. You do this silently:  take a moment to ask for divine guidance in helping your clients to find the answers they are seeking.  If you are a Christian you can call upon Jesus for this help; if not, you can call upon the spirit guardians of astrological wisdom to guide you to the correct judgments. The point is that by beginning your interpretation session with a prayer you wipe the ego slate clean by the symbolic act of surrendering your own will (desire to look good) and letting the powers of the universe take over.

 The best training ground for intuitive astrologers is horary astrology. In horary you use little pieces of the chart (the planets and houses which govern the particular question being asked) and ignore everything else, which helps to focus your attention.  One thing that tends to overwhelm neophyte astrologers is the sheer mountain of information in a birth chart, since they have not yet learned what to focus on and what to ignore. Beyond that, a horary horoscope is completely centered in the now moment, is less encumbered by personal history (yours or the clients’), and is usually prompted by a strong desire for an answer; which makes it easier to tune into than a natal chart, where there are all sorts of themes and crosscurrents of emotion going on which have to be sorted out.

 The flux of the universe is constant – and movement is extremely fast.  What was a correct prediction a moment ago may not be valid now.  A horary chart erected tomorrow may give a completely different message than one erected to answer the same question today.  This is why it’s best, when you are using horary astrology for your own guidance, not to go to the oracle on your own, but rather to wait until some outside event happens (which bears on the question) and to erect the horary chart for the moment of that event. Such charts are always readable, even if they contain strictures – such as a void-of-course moon – which normally defeat interpretation (in such cases the answer is usually “no” or “not yet”.)

 Another reason why horary astrology is a better training ground for intuition than natal astrology is because it’s more symbolic, less rational.  A typical horary textbook consists of a quick set of rules designed to suggest answers, and then long lists of symbols for each horoscope factor.  For example, a list (Simmonite’s) of places ruled by Saturn might read: “deserts, woods, obscure valleys, … dens, … church yards, ruinous buildings, … sinks, wells, muddy, dirty, stinking places.” When you’ve memorized – or better yet, gotten a feel for – what each symbol means (in this case, Saturn-type places), you find that in the moment of interpretation one particular item pops into your mind.  You don’t have to rack your brains to figure out the correct interpretation from the smorgasbord of possibilities; if you know what the symbol means (how it feels), then you’ll always be led to the correct interpretation of that symbol in this instance. 

 Thus, horary astrology is more of a “symbol bank” than natal astrology: there’s less of an intellectual system to it, and what system there is, is more abstract (such as the ring-around-the-rosy technique for locating questions in houses; e.g., the father’s brother’s income being shown by the second from the third from the fourth = the seventh house).

 Horary astrology is more like dreaming, where natal astrology is more like being awake. Things are more symbolical in horary, hence closer to true feeling (what’s really going on). Just as we can learn more about our true state of feeling – what’s really making us happy or unhappy – by studying our dreams, rather than by constantly examining and re-examining our waking lives, so too can we get sharper, clearer answers from horary astrology than from natal.  Indeed, natal astrology becomes increasingly effective as we are able to integrate horary techniques into it.

 The other day I was interpreting the chart of a young man who is leaving the service, and trying to decide what he should do next. He had Mercury in Pisces opposing (and mutual reception) Jupiter in Virgo across the 9th – 3rd house axis. I got a strong impression that he should study and go for a professional degree in some humanistic field. He asked if he should study in his native Puerto Rico or go abroad, to the States;  I got the impression that he should go abroad – further abroad than the U.S. The word “France” popped into my mind, which made him chuckle when I told him because he doesn’t speak French, doesn’t have money to travel, and the whole idea seemed off the wall to him. Nonetheless I suggested that he look into it, to see what opportunities to study in France are available.

 And that’s that.  That was my job as an astrologer. It doesn’t matter if he never goes to France; it doesn’t even matter if he’s crossing the street tomorrow and gets run over by a truck. Whether my prediction is right or not has nothing to do with how well I did my job as an astrologer.  There is a Zen story about the most celebrated archer in all of Japan, who has never once succeeded in hitting the bulls-eye. In astrology, as in Zen archery, the concern has to be for the process, not for the result. Because of a mysterious law of nature, that’s the only way to get good results.

 Now the prediction about going to France obviously has nothing to do with the horoscope feature which prompted that prediction.  Neither Mercury, nor Pisces, nor Jupiter, nor Virgo, nor their combination, specifically carry the meaning “France”. How “France” came out of that, I don’t know. In someone else’s chart that identical planetary configuration might have an altogether different meaning.  And at another point in my client’s life, when some other problem is bothering him, that same configuration might have a different interpretation also. Horoscope factors only mean something with respect to a particular client at a particular moment in time. Although we learn astrology inductively – we learn what, for example, Mars square Saturn means by studying the lives and characters of the natives we know who have Mars square Saturn – we cannot interpret charts inductively. 

 This is why most statistical studies of astrology are doomed to failure.  Astrology is a wavelength we can tune into, not a dead specimen we can dissect and expect to learn anything from. We can learn to feel what Mars square Saturn means by studying its effects in a hundred cases; but we cannot arrive at a correct interpretation in the hundred-and-first case by extrapolating from a preconceived list of concepts or likely possibilities.  There are just too many possibilities.

 Nor can we gain anything by adding more and more points to the horoscope (hypothetical planets, midpoints, asteroids, etc.); all that does is muddy the waters. As Dr. Marc Edmund Jones pointed out,  astrology should not be more complex than life itself.  Rather, astrology should be a means of simplifying, of cutting across complexities and arriving at clear-cut answers. And this can only be done by bypassing the level of conscious, thinking mind.

We need to study what Mars square Saturn has meant in order to tune in to a certain feeling – the feeling of Mars square Saturn. Then when we run into a chart containing Mars square Saturn, we pick up this feeling and let it lead us to the correct interpretation.  We do need a grounding in the basics – an intuitive feel for what the different horoscope factors symbolize – and this implies study.  There are intuitive astrologers who can come up with the correct interpretation just by touching a chart (without even looking at it); but most of us are not blessed with such extraordinary ESP. Nonetheless, we can each develop our intuition by studying what all the different horoscope elements mean (how they each feel).  The study of astrology itself serves to open our intuitive channels.

To be an intuitive astrologer requires humility. This doesn’t mean false humility:  not taking complete responsibility for what you’re doing. It means not going into an interpretation with preconceived ideas, points to defend, a know-it-all attitude.  Being an astrologer, even a beginning one, means that people are going to believe what you say.  This is a big responsibility.  There is a natural tendency to cop out of this responsibility by being either overly serious (playing the mountebank) or not serious enough (playing the dilettante).  To be humble means to respect the client, to respect yourself as an astrologer, and to respect the craft of astrology.  You have to go into each interpretation as if it were the first one you have ever done, and yet with the confidence that you will be guided to the correct interpretation.  Then it all just happens by itself.

The Sunshine House System

 Most of us astrologers have at one time or another wondered why astrology doesn’t work as well as it’s supposed to. Although adamant in defense of astrology when confronted by skeptics, we nonetheless agonize in our innermost souls as to whether the ancient astrologers were lying, or whether astrology just doesn’t function as well in this decadent age; or whether -– horror of horrors! – we may just be fooling ourselves.

 No, no, it can’t be that. After all, that prediction we made about cousin Tillie’s boyfriend was right on the button! So why then, if astrology does work so well sometimes, do we find it so hard to make it work consistently?  Where does the fault lie, dear Brutus – with astrology, or with ourselves? 

 Actually, the problem is not with astrology per se, but with how we modern, western astrologers have been practicing it (or better said: conceptualizing it) for the past several centuries. Ever since astrology and astronomy parted company 300 years ago, both branches of the Uranian science have gone astray.  They’ve lost contact with their true roots – the astrology spirits who, from time immemorial, have guided astrologers and helped them to make accurate judgments.

 The Hindu astrologers never lost contact with the astrology spirits, and hence they haven’t gone through the crisis of confidence experienced in the west. The Hindu astrologers respect the astrology spirits (heed their counsel);  they respect their craft; they respect themselves;  and therefore they are respected in turn by their community.  We occidental astrologers – in our endeavor to turn astrology into a “reasonable” and “rational” (hence “respectable”) science (which it isn’t) – have turned our backs on the astrology spirits, have prostituted our craft and ourselves, and thus justly deserve the opprobrium which mainstream society heaps upon us.  If we were delivering up accurate predictions, you can be sure they’d be singing a different tune.

 To the astrology spirits, all statistical research is hooey.  It may be interesting and even illuminating, but even if it did score little points before the Rationalist-Materialist Inquisition (which it doesn’t), it has nothing whatsoever to do with astrology.  Astrology is not a matter of mind nor of logic.

 The aphorisms of the ancient astrologers were not meant to be taken as rules in the modern sense, but rather as examples of how to interpret charts by the spirit (by intuition).  We western astrologers have our rules – e.g. that moon in the 2nd house means such-and-such, or that Mars square Saturn means thus-and-so, etc. – and then we try to deduce meanings by using logical deduction (reasoning).

 Rather, the thing should be done by feeling, not by thinking. The ancient astrologers and the Hindus did it that way.  We don’t need astrology spirits to interpret horoscopes; we can do that with our own feelings once we’ve learned how to get our intuition flowing. What the spirits want to do at this time is to teach (or reteach) us western astrologers HOW: give us concrete tools to work with.

 Of course, there are some astrologers out there right now who are already doing this as a matter of course; and practically every astrologer has done it now and again:  made an astoundingly accurate prediction without knowing quite how he or she did it. What the spirits want to do is to show us how to do it all the time – consistently give our clients specific, exact information rather than vague generalities such as those which are cranked out by computers.

 To start with, the astrology spirits recommend changing the manner in which we calculate horoscopes.  This is not because there’s anything wrong with traditional house systems per se; after all, the ancient astrologers got good results from them. Rather, by misusing these horoscopes – by treating astrology and its guardians with disrespect – we western astrologers have put bad vibes over these horoscopes, and so have rendered them inoperative.

 The spirits recommend abandoning all current house systems and using instead a system of 24 half-houses which are precisely analogous to the planetary hours. The exact details of how interpretation works in this system have yet to be worked out, although an algorithm for computing half-house placements of natal planets is available; i.e. these new horoscopes can be computed, but not yet interpreted.

 In the meantime the spirits recommend using a system of 12 houses in which the houses have the usual meanings (1st = personality, 2nd = money, etc.), but which are calculated as follows:

 To obtain the houses above the horizon (7 – 12) the sun’s diurnal arc (the length of time from sunrise to sunset) is divided into six parts; to obtain the houses beneath the horizon (1 – 6) the sun’s nocturnal arc (the length of time from sunset to sunrise) is divided into six parts. Then these 12 division points are projected onto the ecliptic with house circles (house circles are great circles on the celestial sphere which pass through the north and south points on the horizon. The Campanus and Regiomontanus systems also project with house circles, but the former divides the prime vertical into 12 parts, and the latter divides the celestial equator into 12 parts).

 Because this new house system results from a division of the sun’s diurnal circle, we call it the Sunshine House System.  Although we are trying to get away from logic, a moment’s reflection will show that the sun’s diurnal circle is indeed the most logical circle to divide to produce mundane houses.  If the houses are to be considered analogous to the signs; and if the signs result from a division of the sun’s yearly path (the ecliptic); then it follows that the houses should result from a division of the sun’s daily path – its diurnal or declination circle; i.e., the small circle parallel to the celestial equator which passes through the natal sun.

 Since the analogy requires that the angles be house cusps (or in any event, the spirits require it), projection of these 12 division points must needs be with house circles, since only a projection with house circles retains both the Ascendant and Midheaven as house cusps.

 The Sunshine House System has two unusual features:

    • 1) Three parameters (Sidereal Time, Latitude, and Declination of natal sun) are required to compute house cusps, rather than only two (ST and Latitude) required by all other house systems. This feature precludes a table of houses for the Sunshine House System, but in this age of computers this is not really a problem.
    • 2) Opposite house cusps (except for the four angles:  Asc, IC, Desc, and MC) do not lie opposite in the zodiac. In fact, it is common to find intercepted pairs of signs which do not lie opposite in the zodiac.  This is an odd feature, but certainly not an objectionable one.
    • When I began recalculating the horoscopes in my files using the Sunshine House System, the first experiment I tried was secondary progressions to intermediate house cusps.  I had always regarded secondary progressions to intermediate house cusps to be the acid test of proof for a house system (transits, because of retrogradation, are too uncertain to use as a test for timing). I had never seen secondary progressions to intermediate house cusps work in any of the half-dozen other house systems in which I’d tried them.
    • Needless to say, they didn’t work in the Sunshine House System either. Disappointed, I was about to file the whole idea away for the duration when I happened to take a vacation and found myself in the (for me) unusual position of doing a lot of face-to-face natal consultations for complete strangers. I calculated all these new charts with the Sunshine House System, and I discovered the following:

      Using the Sunshine House System and the traditional house symbolism (e.g. 7th = marriage, 8th = death, 9th = journeys / religion, etc.) I found that I obtained much clearer psychic impressions than I’d ever experienced in the 20 years I’d then been studying astrology.  My astrology mysteriously reached an altogether new level.  I’d be looking at some feature in a chart, and then suddenly I’d just know, beyond a shadow of a doubt, precisely what happened to that guy at age 6; or what he’ll be doing in 20 years; or what’s bothering him right now.

      When I use the Sunshine House System, it sometimes happens that an actual picture pops up before my mind’s eye;  but more often it’s just a feeling of something known – like reaching out for a memory of something which you know, but can’t quite put your finger on – which horoscope symbols help you pin down or express in words.

      The impressions definitely come from the native, not the horoscope.  Nonetheless the horoscope is intrinsic to the process.   All feelings take off from symbols in the horoscope; and also the horoscope serves as a focus or way of conceptualizing feelings which are in the air.  It can’t be done without the horoscope (at least I can’t do it without the horoscope).

      Although you can use intuition with everyone, the clearest impressions come from natives who are themselves psychic, or who are at least open-hearted and straightforward people.  The guy who sits there with his arms crossed and with an “I dare you!”  look on his face can effectively block any attempts to psychically probe him. You have to break down such a native’s screen of thought forms (penetrate his defenses) before you can give him his money’s worth. I can usually get an antagonistic or dubious client to loosen up by starting (in a friendly and easy manner) with his or her current progressions and transits.  I get clients used to the sound of my voice;  I let them know that I’m not threatening nor judging them; and then, when they’re relaxed, I can start pulling impressions out of them. The point is that if you’re going to be an intuitive astrologer, you have to be open to the native (rather than defending some sort of ego trip of your own).  This means respecting the native, and also respecting yourself; it means giving the person emotional space, and at the same time, not permitting him or her to encroach upon yours.

      There is really no other way of being able to give specific information to a client except through intuition. That’s the only way to cut through all the innumerable possibilities of what the symbols could mean logically, to arrive at what they do mean in a particular case.  The rationalist astrologers who believe that astrology should be based upon reason rather than intuition are only promulgating an astrology of distrust:  distrust in the spirit, distrust in their own abundant inner knowledge, and distrust in the craft of astrology.  We are not advocating “blind faith” in astrology here; we’re talking about concrete results that we can each validate for ourselves in our own practice.

      The Sunshine House System is a link, given to us by the astrology spirits, to help us activate and utilize our latent intuition. If you use a house-based astrology in your practice, I highly recommend your giving the Sunshine House System a whirl.  I think you will be surprised and gratified to find how such a simple adjustment as changing the house system you use can produce such an amazing difference in the specificity and accuracy of your predictions. 

Bob Makransky’s Astrology Corner © 2001

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