Amidst the vastness of the practice of astrology, there comes a wide variety of techniques, each with its own flavor and purpose. How is it that such a diversity of approaches and perspectives can at once be not only valid but yield a similar and at times identical judgement?
First each astrologer should seek an approach or technique only if it yields accurate results when it comes to interpretation. There are many things we can say to clients which sound good, deep or true but don’t hold any salt. Many are those astrologers, who, bereft of any deep insight, use a plethora of terms and concepts to whip up an interpretation which in truth means absolutely nothing.
The art of interpretation lies in the ability to discern factual qualities about a person’s life rather than nebulous concepts which make them feel good. Examples of such qualities would be for us to see that a person will likely marry twice and that their marriages will be good for wealth but not very emotionally fulfilling and that they are likely to be married to people older and that the spouse will be quiet, somber, hard working and pessimistic etc. These are statements that by no means apply to every person and it is possible to get even more specific than this. We can go deeper as well and use techniques to look at how marriage figures into the person’s spiritual or religious life and how “fated” it is or if it was less fixed in its character.
A good technique gives us the correct information, sometimes more and sometimes less with regard to the details. A friend and I were once both reading the same chart - I was using medieval Persian methods and the tropical zodiac, whilst she was using the techniques of Jyotish and the sidereal zodiac. Though the reading was not a very in depth one, we both came to many of the same conclusions or agreed with what the other had said based on our own technical analysis.
The question naturally arises as to how to choose which techniques to use and when. The first criterion is based on the validity described above: does this technique yield concrete and accurate results when interpreting a chart? Furthermore the technique should be simple, not in terms of mathematical calculation but in terms of application. This means it ought to yield obvious and quick results when applied even casually, meaning we shouldn’t need to delve into complex logic, composing many a page, to justify why a technique shows something (this is often the case when bad techniques are employed). Truth speaks for itself and so should a good technique.
All astrologers have a wide variety of techniques through which they can approach a chart. The next key is to realize that only certain ones are relevant for certain things and at certain times. We see this most clearly with time lords (systems wherein planets rule periods of time). There are a plethora of different time lord techniques but they all show something different, so we take the ones most relevant to a given situation or question. If we are only looking at broad periods of time then we need not invoke solar and lunar returns etc.
Perhaps the most important thing to keep in mind whilst applying techniques is confluence - or the repetition of a theme. When studying a chart and attempting to discern things we know nothing about we will get the best results by using techniques that show us confluence and in this way our judgment can be more firmly anchored within the structure of the chart itself rather than vague intimations or guess work. This approach leads us to a holistic synthesis of the entire chart when looking at just one area of life (such as marriage, health, religion, money etc.). Through the process of drawing out confluence, the whole chart is taken into account to understand just one subject. It is this kind of holistic approach that focuses the mind so that it may receive the clear light of knowledge - real intuition - concerning something in a person’s life. This intuitive vision allows astrologers to literally see the future or know the past in a supra-accurate manner that is not possible through a reductionistic approach in which the factors analyzed are merely added together to produce an idea or concept.
Confluence and its ability to tap one into the intuitive is the reason why many different approaches can all produce excellent and sometimes identical results.
A holistic technical approach necessarily implies that the moment of the consultation or delineation be taken into account. It therefore becomes exceedingly important that when studying and testing techniques or theories one always does so in the spirit of using the technique to make accurate delineation in a consultation setting - meaning that the technique will allow one to make sense of a chart of a person one knows nothing or very little about.
Any astrologer can analyze a nativity or event after the fact and claim that this or that factor is what shows an event or reality etc. and we see this all the time in the astrological world. This is not to be unduly criticized as it is how one learns, yet very often if you read between the lines you’ll find that such an astrologer probably couldn’t have delineated those events or facts BEFORE they happened or before they knew about them using the techniques they are demonstrating. This is because they think too reductionistically and attempt to constantly isolate techniques and factors and present them in a vacuum. This does not work in practice.
This isn’t to say that one factor won’t sometimes give you the correct delineation, but in such circumstances an astrologer is either very lucky or that single factor was enough for them to tap into the correct interpretation. Once I was able to discern that the native’s former spouse was an atheist just because I saw that Saturn was exalted in the 3rd house (the 9th from the 7th) - however something I did not notice at the time, which may have also been important, was that Saturn (being L7) was in aversion to Jupiter, Venus and Mars - Jupiter being natural significator of faith, Mars ruling the 9th and Venus being the dispositor of Saturn and ruling the 3rd. There are probably other indications of this but it matters not because when I made that delineation I was not thinking reductionistically. I merely noted Saturn in the turned 9th and got a hit on the ex husband being an atheist. This was not merely an intellectual deduction because it also felt very correct even before I asked about it and I guarantee that I was also picking up information on very subtle levels merely by talking with this client a little and hearing the manner in which she spoke about her ex husband. I believe that this kind of situation is very common amongst astrologers but that many of us do not realize what is going on. My point here is that sometimes one astrological factor is all it takes to focus the mind to receive the light - and this is a great blessing.
Another very important idea to consider when studying and learning astrology and focusing on techniques is context, of which there is a variety:
The context of the entire chart
The context of the period of time the native was born in versus the period of time in which the technique was written about in a particular text
The context of the social status of the native, the country they were born in and any other factors that cannot necessarily be known from the chart itself (such as familial medical history)
The context of the application of many other techniques alongside a single technique - or how one technique combines and intermingles with others (whether astrological or not!)
The context of how the ancient astrological authors thought and the purpose of the texts they wrote
This last point is of a singular importance. One needs to realize that a plethora of ancient texts in astrology were probably written so as to be supplemented by lessons from a living teacher and practitioner of the art. Therefore many things are left unsaid in these old texts and very few concrete examples are given to demonstrate the validity of the techniques in practice. Many ancient authors probably also purposely wrote in a more obscure manner, concealing many subtle and finer points so as to challenge those who would learn the art to plumb the depths in order to uncover the interpretative powers afforded by such techniques.
Finally it is my own theory that the effectiveness of a technique was not judged in isolation from other techniques, nor was it judged on the basis of how often one could apply it to charts to see something that had already occurred and thus “know” if the technique actually worked.
NB: it is good to do this at times because there are indeed some techniques that really don’t work at all or with great inconsistency, such as the technique wherein the number of signs between say Venus and the MC shows the number of wives, but this is a very literal kind of technique.
Instead a technique was judged on the basis of philosophical or logical frameworks and, more importantly, on its ability to, within the context of studying an entire chart and used in conjunction with several other techniques, focus the astrologer’s mind, block out external noise, transcend linear thinking thus enabling the mind to receive the light of wisdom thereby producing at times supra-accurate judgments concerning the life of the native (*large breath*). This light of wisdom can come as a full blown vision or as a subtle intimation spiralling forth from somewhere beyond the rational sphere (Buddhi?).
Thus to a linear thinker who relies on sterile statistical analysis to find the validity of a technique this all may sound very strange, for such a person seeks to decontextualize moments in time and space, thus reducing them to a mere set of factors or parts and thereby ignoring the holistic character of each and every moment. In reality each moment is totally unique and therefore an astrological technique which appears to not be very consistent at first glance and when applied linearly may be very powerful when applied in a trans-rational manner - that is, a manner that focuses and opens the astrologer’s mind to receive the correct information making accurate judgment possible. Again many techniques don’t work all that well in isolation (which is perhaps why many astrologers have been confused by how to approach bounds in nativities).
This also means that the very moment one sets to work to judge a chart, the connection with the client and what is happening in their life, and such factors as these, deeply influence an astrologer’s ability to pass good judgement. The implications of this are profound because it means that we will not always be able to see certain things when passing judgement and making prediction - instead we will see what is relevant to that moment, that consultation and for that client at that particular phase of their life!
As one works with a technique or set of techniques, one not only observes and learns the subtleties through experience but also develops an intuitive bond with a particular technique. Through this affinity doubt is removed and once removed there exists a tremendous freedom and possibility for that technique to yield the gold of wisdom as opposed to the lead of linear thinking.