Exploring the Birthchart
As a Template for Lifelong Learning
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When I switched gears in my astrological career from doing readings for clients to teaching students how to explore their own birthcharts, the work largely revolved around a process that I call taking a cyclical history. A cyclical history tracks whichever astrological cycle or cycles are most relevant to whatever issue is presented by a client for exploration.
If, for example, I determine that a client suffering from jealousy, anger, betrayal and emotional vulnerability in the wake of her husband’s recent affair is related to a natal opposition between Venus in Aries and Neptune in Libra, I might track a number of relevant cycles: 1) transits of Neptune to natal Venus; 2) recent transits of Venus to natal Neptune; and 3) the movement of progressed Venus in relation to itself and Neptune to this point in the life. In the first two cycles, cardinal aspects – conjunctions, squares and oppositions – will likely be most relevant. In the third, any change as progressed Venus moves from one sign to another; one house to another; turns retrograde; or forms any aspect to natal Venus or natal Neptune will be noteworthy. I would generally allow a 1° orb for each astrological “event.”
By listening to the client’s story in relation to these “events,” I would then begin to piece together a more detailed and nuanced understanding of the pattern we are exploring. Tracing the pattern back far enough – in this case, perhaps especially through Cycle 1, I might get a sense of its origin in childhood. I would also get a sense, considering the story as a whole, of how the client has dealt with the suffering associated with the pattern; what, if anything they are learning; and where they might go from here.
All of this taken together gives a sense of meaning. A cyclical history tells the story of a pattern and its attendant issues that has likely been unfolding over the course of a lifetime. It also reveals a process of gradual growth and learning that brings the client to this critical juncture, at which she has the opportunity to apply what she has learned to the same pattern in a more conscious and intentional way.
This type of analysis – which comes through a dialogue with the client, exploring relevant periods of their actual life experience, and together looking to identify themes and patterns unfolding – is far more useful than a standard “reading” in which the astrologer merely provides foreknowledge that might serve as a “remedy” for suffering.
The next post in this series is Harvesting the Wisdom of a Life as a True Gift to the World.
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