Accuracy of Astrological Interpretations Denetta Asks: “I have spent a lot of money and time with having a couple of different people do my astrological profile. Unfortunately, what I got back is not only off, they are almost 99% wrong! Having only a couple lines out of a five page, $55 profile be anywhere near correct is very discouraging. The first time I had it done I thought it was the person doing it, the second time I almost gave up, and the third one (luckily it was free!) is also way off and very incorrect. How could I be so off from three different profiles done by three different people saying three different things entirely? Is it because I was born at midnight?” Kevin Answers: Denetta, Your question is excellent, although the answer is a bit complicated, and probably opens up several spiritual, philosophical and theoretical cans of worms, but here goes. The single biggest debate, when it comes not only to all forms of prediction and prognostication, but also to religious issues dating back thousands of years is the question of fate versus free will. I’m not going to explore the history of this debate here; suffice it to say that the modern approach to matters spiritual leans very heavily on the side of free will. In other words, we are each the master and the architect of our own, individual destiny. We create everything in our lives (although we rarely care to take full responsibility for our choices). Now, if free will is the last word, how do practices like astrology, that at least on some level seem to be able to predict events, fit in? The modern and humanistic approach to spirituality generally accepts that 1) while we all have the ability to exercise absolute choice and absolute free will, shaping and molding our individual destinies and lives, 2) most of us don’t even begin to exercise these options on a conscious level; we tend to run our lives on auto-pilot. As far as any kind of prediction goes, especially when that prediction has to do with behavior or events, and whether that prediction comes from a psychic, an astrologer, a tarot reader or anyone else, the predictions are accurate so long as free will is not exercised. In other words, any kind of prediction that you receive about your future is only accurate assuming that you don’t do anything in the present to change it. (How this all applies to interpreting natal charts is a bit more involved. I haven’t forgotten the question, I’m just working up to the answer.) It’s difficult enough to generate accurate predictions using interrogative forms of astrology such as Horary, Electional or Event Interpretations, where the rules for interpretation are extremely rigid and precise. These types of astrology are focusing on discrete events and questions; these charts do not change or evolve over time; and most importantly, these types of charts involve the least amount of implied free will. When it comes to interpreting an individual’s natal chart, it’s next to impossible to make accurate predictions about that individual because in a natal chart, free will is a fundamental assumption; more than that, the chart, and the individual evolves and changes over time. I’ve asserted many times before that astrology can not predict behavior. Astrology can help us to understand our patterns, our needs, and our motivations, but how we experience, react and respond to these is entirely our choice. Each planet, sign, and aspect in astrology can be interpreted and experienced in an infinite number of different ways, and indeed will be experienced differently by each individual. So how can astrology be considered to be accurate at all? To understand how and where astrology works, you have to understand that there are seven different levels of being. In descending order they are: Ketheric = Spiritual Mental Plane Celestial = Spiritual Emotional Plane Etheric = Spiritual Physical Plane Astral = Transition Mental Emotional Physical Astrology operates on the Ketheric plane; it is a spiritual blueprint; behavior is a very distilled manifestation of the potential of this blueprint that shows up on the physical plane. Energy on the Ketheric plane can be seen as motivation; to travel from the Ketheric plane to the physical plane, that motivation becomes an assumption, which becomes a belief, which becomes an attitude, which becomes a behavior (or a hardened belief). What all of this means is that each element of astrology, while specific and unique in and of itself, can translate to an infinite number of different forms of expression—each of which is still a true expression of that symbol. It is absolutely impossible to look at a natal chart and be able to describe an individual and their life, because without knowing that individual, an astrologer has no understanding of how that individual is working with their chart. What astrologers are able to understand by looking at a natal chart are the blueprints—the underlying motivations, the potential patterns that an individual is likely to experience in their lives. Without knowing something about the context of that life, however, it’s all academic. When I prepare for a consultation with a new client, I rarely know more than a few bits of information about that client’s current situation. I can of course, make certain other cultural assumptions based on the client’s age and background. A person born in the 1940’s in Europe who lived through the holocaust and emigrated to the United States is going to have a very different approach to their chart than will a person born in the 1970’s in the U.S. Although these are rather extreme examples (but for the record, they do match descriptions of actual clients), this demonstrates how I begin to try and put a natal chart in context before a consultation. The bottom line, however, is that all of my preparation is little more than guessing. I make up stories about the chart and about the client to make sense of their chart. But until I can actually sit down with the client and talk to them about their life and their history, I can’t know for certain how they are experiencing and expressing their chart. Sometimes my “guesses” are exceptionally accurate (I’ve got a pretty good track record, particularly when it comes to a client’s parents); and just as often, I’m entirely off-base about certain details. But let me be clear: what I’m off-base about is not the individual’s chart, but simply how they may have experienced a particular element or aspect of their chart. The more dialogue I have with a client, the greater the context that I have in which to place their chart, and the more accurate my “predictions” become, because I have a better understanding of the client. I can look at a chart and see that a client is likely to have issues dealing with authority figures, but until I understand a bit more about their individual life situation, I couldn’t say how this aspect would play out in their life. Once I do know more about their life, however, it’s much easier for me to recognize situations where this pattern is manifesting for the client. It’s difficult enough to give accurate interpretations when you have interaction with a client; it’s next to impossible, however, when providing a written report. Most astrology reports are written as “cookbooks.” They break the chart down into individual little elements, and interpret each element without synthesizing the chart as a whole. It’s not possible to get the “big picture” from this type of interpretation; and it’s also not possible for the person reading the interpretation to understand what areas of their chart will tend to be the most dominant and what areas will tend to be the most hidden. When reading a “cookbook” report, everything’s pretty much of equal importance. I don’t want to sound like I’m coming down on “cookbook” reports—after all, I do write them myself. My approach to these written interpretations, however, is to convey that what is being described are simply examples of some of the infinite potentials of each element and aspect of the chart. I try my best to stay away from absolute language (i.e., if your Sun is in Aries, you will always be headstrong and impulsive, etc.). I also try and emphasize that there is no such thing as a “bad” planet or aspect. Every single element of the chart can be expressed in both “positive” and “negative” ways. Remember, we have absolute free will, and it’s up to us how we experience our charts. Denetta, you’ve unfortunately experienced this type of thing first hand. Every astrologer has his or her own perspective and his or her own approach to interpretation. If you take the three reports together, you’ll probably find some very common elements between them for each description, although the specific examples that they offer may be very different. Being born at midnight isn’t a factor here. What is a factor, however, is that if you want to have an understanding of your natal chart that truly fits in with your life and your experience of your chart, then there is no substitute for a one-on-one dialogue with an astrologer. It’s just not possible to get that sort of thing from a written report, and particularly from a computer-generated cookbook report.