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getting started with astrology

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Bumping this thread because I’m just getting into astrology myself, and I’d love to see this topic keep going. I’m really curious if anyone else has strong opinions on the different branches, what people use, and what techniques other witches find most helpful. So, does anyone have strong opinions on Western, Vedic, psychological, evolutionary, Hellenistic, etc.?  Which branches would you suggest for beginners?

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Reviving this thread. Self-studied haphazardly for many years before enrolling in a rigorous and structured international certification program, which I have made it halfway through. Took me 2.5 years, studying half-time, and I'm certified by my school in Natal. All Western, and I've learnt all major classical and modern techniques.

 

It's really a challenge to suggest where to start, because even by limiting to, say, "Western, Classical" or "Western, Modern" there are so many branches and approaches, it's ridiculous. And, whatever branch a person should lean toward, is a personal choice. Regardless, it takes an insane amount of time and focus to become even borderline proficient. One of the major reasons for this is because it is a self-study before anything, and besides learning the foundations of the practice, chart-reading, prioritization, chart-reading, correspondences, and what I'll call "wide-sight" (which is basically expanding the internal concept from linear to spherical, adding new dimensions to the consciousness), it takes the actual process of time to experience Lived Correspondences, and one's own chart. So, we learn our chart in a natal sense, which for many (it did/is for me) brings up awareness of parts of the individual self and can be really disillusioning, and brutal. At the same time, we learn by watching what is happening at any given time, and experiencing how that manifests in our experience of our daily lives in the world (transits). We also experience transits in relation to our natal charts. You will start to feel the effects of the astrological weather. If you aren't already sensitive, astrology will make you sensitive.

 

Astrology practice will turn up your awareness experience of all of your parts, and life as it passes, to 11. As far as timeline goes, well, it takes Saturn 2.5 years to move through a sign, and about the same amount of time for Pluto to complete a transit to any planet or point in one's chart. Learning this, one sees that one has to go through these cycles, or technically parts of cycles, to develop a relationship with the timelines of each planet. After a certain point, it doesn't matter how hard you study, if not enough time has passed: Astrology is about Time and Cycles, and without living through these, it's all theory. Mercury and Venus take about a year, and Mars takes 2 to make a round. Jupiter takes 12. It's a truly humbling practice.

 

An example: the 7th class of the Natal module I completed, we were given "mystery charts." One of the charts was for a Most Heinous world figure. No one in the class even guessed that the person was Evil. The professor and TA also admitted that when they took the class, they read the chart as being for a Good Person. It was a lesson in how difficult it is to truly read a chart for its essence: we may see all sorts of little details, but are we getting the big picture? Humbling, huh?

 

That said, I am the sort of person who devours information anywhere I can get it. My advice to a newbie would be to listen to as many podcasts and videos as possible (there are many good ones, and each have their own style), and find astro writers, online or print, that resonate with you. Astrology is a language with a culture around it: expose yourself to it. I could only recommend names if someone had a specific niche interest. After a certain point, a student develops interests in certain branches, of course. What I would emphasize, though, really, if you can, is foundations, foundations, foundations. It's so easy to get caught up in the infinite details, and jump in deep without having the basics. No, Black Moon Lilith is NOT more important than Mars. One thing about astrologers, is that often there is no common ground. It is DEEPLY personal divination system. Truly, the adage "physician, heal thyself" is perfect for this art. Yet, it is also deeply scientific, and correspondences have been painstakingly deduced over our long history. Despite this, wars between astrologers over systems are common. I have been privy to many, and I'm still young. For example. as some others mentioned, Vedic and Western are totally different systems, yet both work accurately. Yet, some astrologers will argue and fight over this stuff. Don't pay attention to the war: just learn that the differences exist, and stick with what feels right for you. Pick Western or Vedic and DO NOT STRAY unless you want to make yourself insane and not get anywhere. My suggestion is, unless you are Indian or deeply steeped in Indian culture, go Western. Especially if you're of Euro descent: it makes the most sense to study a tradition closest to one's ancestral culture, unless heavily compelled to go another way (of course, historically, Euro astrology has its roots in Babylon, Arabic, etc, but that's a little besides the point here). This is where formal education comes in. Personally I chose to go the route of formal education even after many years of self-dabbling, because I knew that I was floundering without it, and I have never regretted it, not once. And I still feel like a noob, even though I know that I'm not. Learn foundations. My school uses the textbook On the Heavenly Spheres. It's a text based on the classical tradition. You won't go wrong with that, but it's not easy, especially alone.

 

Looking at resources published by reputable organizations like NCGR, ISAR, AFAN, Kepler, etc, is a really good place to start. Of course there are many AMAZING astrologers who are off the beaten path, too. Trust your intuition, and vary your diet, especially in the beginning, to find what jives with you. but once you find that, pare it down. Too much varied input will confuse the living Eris out of you.

 

So, that's advice regarding other people/teachers. Here's some that don't have to do with teachers:

 

Make studying the Moon cycle your priority. Know what moon phase and sign we're in, and if it is conjunct with any other major bodies at all times. Watch the Moon throughout the month.

 

Learn the cardinal directions and be able to read them based on where the Sun or the Moon is at any point (this becomes much more difficult if the body is at the Midheaven... I even have trouble with this still). Study the night sky in general. Don't pressure yourself too much: this is a lifetime study, and there's no way to process it all at once. Just get used to watching the stars move by day and by season.

 

Learn how to read a circle chart, and if there are bodies in your night sky, identify them, see the sign it's in, and ID any nearby fixed stars.

 

Correspondences and mythology. Planets, Signs, Houses. My advice is, use Whole Sign Houses, Equal Houses, or Porphyry, instead of Placidus, which is what astro.com automatically uses. Why? Placidus is calculated based on complicated trig that you don't know, and divides the houses in a way that becomes arbitrary without deep knowledge. Keep it simple, stupid. That said, house systems is one of those things you Don't Bring Up At Dinner. I only recommend what I am recommending here in the interest of keeping it simple. If you're learning houses and you don't understand why one planet is in the 3rd instead of the 2nd, then you shouldn't be using that system, plain and simple. Make it easiest you can on yourself.

 

Learn to read an Ephemeris. This is just as important than reading a circle chart, because you can see one or two months at a time, and see how the bodies move over time. KEY. This should be your first purchase.

 

Don't even think about asteroids until you can read a chart and make a prediction without them.

 

Sacred Geometry is your Best Friend.

 

Rulerships.

 

Elements and Modalities. KEY! You can't eyeball or head-calculate major aspects without this knowledge, and the insight into what the signs actually mean is foundational.

 

Figure out what outer planet transits you're going through, and study what they mean.

 

Once you get sick of running to astro.com, get a good computer program or app. There are a few "pro" level ones like Solar Fire. Don't bother, as a noob. You will spend way too much money, and confuse the living light out of yourself. Just get a basic chart caster that can do biwheels (to show transits on a radix, usually a natal chart), progressions, show ephemerides, and save charts, so you don't have to keep running to a website to cast. I have a Mac, and use iPhemeris, which was about $60 when I got it. Not sure about Windows machines. There are lots of apps for phone that are free and good for beginners, too.

 

Often a chart will "contradict" itself in many ways, though it's not actually a contradiction, but an interplay of many forces, and it's the astrologer's job to figure out what is actually going on. Easier said than done.

 

Caution. Astrology is a rabbit hole. And it's getting more and more popular, and a lot of people have a lot to say about it.

 

Caution when reading for others. People expect an astrologer to be able to "know" stuff, yet, are so afraid of "bad news," and if you inaccurately profess, or sugarcoat something that really needs to be said, you can really mess someone up. Like reading Tarot, people who ask your advice will take it seriously, but unlike Tarot, people understand that Astrology is not just a divination, but it is also based on science and real-life stuff they can see, so, they may take you even more seriously. Know your qualifications and/or abilities!!!!! Do not overstep them. There are so many forces at play, and astrology has limits. Astrology is also a language in and of itself, and so even if you can read a chart accurately yourself, putting the right portion of that information into layman's terms is an extreme challenge, perhaps even more difficult than reading itself.

 

Anyone who wants to know more, feel free to ask.

Edited by phantasmagoria
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Congrats on the certifications!  Which program are you studying?  You seem to have a very good working knowledge.  Well done! Astrology is a difficult subject to master, that's for sure!  :D

Edited by Aurelian

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Congrats on the certifications!  Which program are you studying?  You seem to have a very good working knowledge.  Well done! Astrology is a difficult subject to master, that's for sure!  :D

 

Thanks! It's the program with International Academy of Astrology, a blend of classical and modern. It's very challenging, and part of the program is learning hand-casting. I almost dropped out during that one, but I'm glad I practiced it, because being able to do the work without a computer was something that I was dead-set on learning. I have been meaning to go back to that and spruce up that skill, actually. The second half is the professional program, where we learn forecasting, timing, counseling ethics, relationship, and specialties. There are a few reasons why I did not continue straight on through without a break, but the most relevant is that I wanted the time to be able to integrate and practice what I spent all that time learning, and find more of my own stride, before jumping in again.

 

Yes indeed! As I continue learning, I admire the work that my elders/teachers have done more and more!

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As far as  software programs; I think the Astrograph- Time Passages products are excellent and easy to use , and the author; Henry Seltzer is talented. ( Although he uses very big words :rolleyes_witch: )

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Wow. I for one had no idea astrology could be quite so complex and intricate! Reading this thread is making me seriously consider pursuing it a bit down the road from where I am now. And congrats phantasmagoria on knowledge well earned. And thank you for your extensive advice to new comers of astrology.

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I never could get into astrology because I do not know my time of birth.

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I never could get into astrology because I do not know my time of birth.

 

A qualified practitioner could do what is called "rectification," which is basically reverse-engineering the ascendant degree with known life events, and any time of day info available. Personally, I have never attempted it, and you would definitely want to solicit someone with verifiable experience or references for something like that. You can still learn a lot from a noontime chart, but, it does make it harder, and not as fulfilling, without a rectified birth time. Yet, still better than not knowing the date, or even month! At that point, just stick with Tarot... LMAO

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Indeed! And again with Thoth deck: a good bridge into Astrology as well, as a reinforcing study tool, with the cards all labeled with the astrological correspondences.

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OMG! Do you read the Thoth Deck? It is the only deck I have ever had, I have had the same deck for 40 odd years and I feel I am still learning it.

I have a book that I still use, those cards are so complex, you have to know so much to get the entire meanings of the cards. I would say a lifetime of learning.

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I should add that the book I use for the Thoth Deck is "The Crowley Tarot" by Akron-Hajo Banzhaf

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OMG! Do you read the Thoth Deck? It is the only deck I have ever had, I have had the same deck for 40 odd years and I feel I am still learning it.

I have a book that I still use, those cards are so complex, you have to know so much to get the entire meanings of the cards. I would say a lifetime of learning.

Yes, I do read it, but I don't have a deck anymore (gave it to an ex who it wanted to be with, before it was stolen from him), and I didn't know it for that long, either (a couple/few years). But I would love to have another one! I get quick, straight to the point answers with it. I have not even really begun the study of the Sephiroth, so I am really a novice at Thoth, but, intuitively, I get very clear answers with it. I would love to learn more, and of course, my reading list is long enough to last many lifetimes. I do my best! Thank you for the study book suggestion. I really appreciate it.

 

Crowley did write a bit on Astrology, specifically, too. Here are some links that I found:

 

From Magick without Tears,

 

https://hermetic.com/crowley/magick-without-tears/mwt_21 Chapter XXI: My Theory of Astrology

There is a lot of really good practical-minded advice in here.

 

https://hermetic.com/crowley/magick-without-tears/mwt_22 Chapter XXII: How to Learn the Practice of Astrology

Interesting something in here that I have never seen or heard of before: he refers to the fixed signs as "cherubic." Sourced more info here by another author:

 

http://pillar-of-enoch.com/language_series/universe/Language_of_God_in_the_Universe_Chapter-2_Cherubim.pdf

I didn't read this particular one before posting it, but it looks like some interesting material.

 

Crowley also ghostwrote for the famous-in-the-field Evangeline Adams:

https://hermetic.com/crowley/astrology/your-place-in-the-sun/index

Edited by phantasmagoria

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Crowley is an endless subject, and he wrote a lot of information. Thanks for the list, I will be putting it on my reading list for sure.

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I just got another Thoth deck thanks to a dear friend gifting one to me (YAY!), and have started up my Crowley studies again, and holy moly, what a library. Please see freshly minted Meme attached LMAO

 

Anyway, for those here for the astrology, I just posted a long bit of information in this thread:

 

http://www.traditionalwitch.net/forums/topic/13819-recent-shifts-in-energy/?view=getnewpost

 

about the Great Conjunction, and other current and upcoming astrological weather. It is pretty heavy stuff, but, very relevant as far as our timeline goes.

post-1310-0-80962300-1577661064_thumb.jpg

Edited by phantasmagoria
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phantasmagoria gave great advice! I feel like adding my two cents because these are anchoring points I don't see discussed that often, unfortunately.

  • Start with basic astronomy. It's probably the biggest field of scientific vulgarization, there are tons of solid, entertaining and beautiful educational material out there. You just need to understand the position of each of the 7 traditional planets (+ Uranus, Neptune and Pluto if you want to use them but only use the planets to start) relative to the sun and to earth, the time it takes for them to complete their orbit, to what extent they're visible from earth, and what they roughly look like. That last point is so important. It's crazy how well the images we've been able to get for what amounts to a blip in human history symbolically match the historical delineations: Mars not only glows red, it has a huge gash like a battle scar; Jupiter is ENORMOUS, like, you have no idea; Uranus is contrarian through and through, he won't even spin the same way every other planet does, etc. Rather than learning a list of keywords by rote, anchor your understanding in the astronomy, the way astrologers were always meant to.
  • Relatedly, go out and look at the sky. Even in a highly light polluted environment, you can see tons of stuff. I'm in a big city and I can see Mars rage every night right now since he's been stuck in Aries for most of the year, we shake our fists at one another, it's great. It's absolutely fantastic that we can cast charts in milliseconds for free on the internet but it also means we've lost context for most of what we talk about. That's how you end up with really bizarre takes in modern astrology - if only people would look up from their computer screens (and understand that they're part of a tradition), most of these empty arguments would be cleared up in a flash.
  • The point about knowing the length of the orbits: it's mostly so you know how personally important different placements are. No, it doesn't mean anything on its own that you have Pluto in Scorpio - Pluto spends up to 30 years or so in a sign before moving on in the zodiac, your whole generation has the same Pluto sign! Compare that to the Moon, who spends 2 1/2 days in a sign on average - the sign placement of your Moon is much more directly relevant to you personally.
  • Understand the Moon phases: they're a product of the Moon's relationship to the Sun. At the new moon, the Moon is conjunct the Sun; at the full Moon, she's opposite; at the Quarters, she makes different sorts of squares. Understanding this gives you a grounded basis from which to understand aspects.
  • As for the zodiac, don't start with lists of keywords and trendy buzzwords. Start with elements, polarities, modalities and rulership and derive meaning from them. No, Scorpio isn't about death and sex, it's a fixed feminine water sign, and it's the nocturnal domicile of Mars. Secrecy, dedication, stagnation, depth, instinct etc come to mind - you're building a larger picture, one you can remember easily because it's not an arbitrary archetype, there's a logic to it.
  • Finally, and this is really my point in a nutshell: form an understanding of the underlying logic of astrology. It's a system, and so it should be well-oiled to allow the properly oracular moment to take place when you look at a chart. In addition to what I've already written, look into the Thema Mundi to gain an understanding of rulerships and other dignities, even aspects and house meanings.

As for book recommendations for complete beginners, I think Carole Taylor's Astrology: Using the Wisdom of the Stars in your Every Day Life is fantastic. She has a very different approach to mine, I don't agree with everything, but she's a wonderful teacher and writer. It's the only beginner book I've found that doesn't drill anything in your head: it gives you the tools to start applying and observing astrology in concrete ways.

This other book is more advanced and it's on an apparently narrow topic but it's actually fundamental. It gives you everything you need to know to understand the birth chart not as an abstract 2D circle on your screen but as it relates to the actual sky it represents: The Houses: Temples of the Sky, by Deborah Houlding.

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