Dazzled by Power
The seductive nature of new astrological approaches
by Hank Friedman
Beginning astrologers find themselves presented with a candy store full of choices when they acquire a professional astrology program, go to a large conference, or simply Google astrology books on the internet.
The power of the written or spoken word (and similarly the power of astrology programs) convinces the novice that most of what they encounter must be genuine and effective.
And given that most Western astrologers are not trained in the scientific method or discriminative thinking and are also very politically correct, even the most outlandish or ungrounded approaches are treated with respect and openness.
When I first "got into" astrology, I was coming from 14 years of immersion in the sciences, and my agenda was to disprove astrology in order to show my girlfriend that she was wasting her time with this "woo-woo" stuff.
Much to my chagrin, initially, too many of its delineations worked far beyond chance. As I continued my testing, I was able to separate the wheat (what worked) from the chaff (what didn't) and the accuracy of my readings gradually went from about 70% to 100%.
As time went on, I began to see astrologers introduce a wide range of astrological approaches, most without any serious testing to see if they worked. And I watched as beginners used a technique that shouldn't have been used for a purpose instead of employing a much more longstanding method that worked exquisitely well.
A good example of this is the Composite Chart. Invented by Rob Hand in the mid '70's, it creates a fictitious chart by combining the midpoints between the planets in two charts. As such, Composite charts are so far removed from reality that they cannot astronomically exist, E.g. Mercury can easily be further from the Sun than is actually possible.
Nevertheless, Composite Charts clearly have value, enabling astrologers to explore themes represented by the relationship between two people. But what they don't show are the actual interactions between the couple, the temperamental rapports and clashes, and therefore the true degree of compatibility between them.
Here's an easy example: If two people both have their Sun signs in early Water, their Composite Sun will be in Earth. An Earth sign Composite Sun may be meaningful in some ways, but definitely does not show the watery connection between the two people that is paramount to their relationship.
Therefore astrologers who become infatuated with this approach miss the actual psychological relationship between the two people, and cannot describe the functional aspects of the relationship with any degree of accuracy at all.
Similarly, many Indian astrologers rely on the Kuta/Ashkoot method of compatibility assessment to see if a couple should get married. But this method is limited in many ways. First of all, the only planet it examines is the Moon in both charts. Secondly, it is biased towards procreation.
It was developed in a culture where having a family was paramount, which may or may not be the top priority for a modern couple. And so over-reliance on this approach may lead to an astrologer advising marriage where they shouldn't. (My own Jyotish Guru, Hart deFouw, said that at most this should account for only 1/3 of the factors used to evaluate a couple.)
In sum, I am encouraging astrologers to value time-honored methods, and to be very careful about over-relying on either new or single methods, or too rapidly adding more and more methods to their toolboxes without first mastering one method at a time.
In the next part of this article, I will be exploring other approaches that may or may not have value, including Heliocentric delineations, Theme astromaps, chart rectification tools, the phase approach, and more.
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