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I don't want to do readings, but consultations
There's a difference.
I was getting ready to send over a video reading to a client, who had just turned seventeen. The service they purchased required well over an hour of research and writing, and then finally a video of myself summarizing what I found. I was trying to be as ethical as possible. Even if I did follow through and sent the reading, I needed to get the client’s parent’s permission to complete the reading.
I had no contextual information about their life but their birth time and location. It was a quick request to analyze the astrology of the next five years of their life. It is impossible for the astrologer not to project their own experiences onto the chart, no matter how technical their technique is. The language of astrology itself has meanings that are then projected onto a human experience, which naturally deviates, presenting new arrangements of the same old matter. Even if astrologers are purely technical, the purely technical, traditional astrology may unnecessarily scare a client who is uninformed that these transits can manifest in multiple ways. Without the client present it’s not possible to ground the astrology in real life.
Human astrologers can read charts in ways that algorithms haven’t learned how to do yet, sure, but the service of a “reading” with no live interaction between the client and astrologer seems robotic. The client could get more meaning and personal substance out of the service if they either spoke with an astrologer in real time. Or if they’re looking for something impersonal, they could just punch their birth data into astro.com.
Before sending the package over, I asked my roommate, who heard my recording, what they thought of what I was saying. They said, “Have you sent it over yet?” No. “You sounded a little unsure of yourself.”
Maybe my ennui was from the jet lag. Maybe it was the client’s young age looming over my head. I was extremely excited to work with a younger person, but I felt even more pressure to be gentle and responsible with their birth chart. Younger people are more sensitive, “impressionable”. Their eyes are wider. They remember things more strongly. I knew that what I said could be something they remember for the rest of their life.
Over the past week I have had conversations with cab drivers, where I tell them that I am often intimidated by the power and responsibility that I have as an astrologer. Especially in the totally vapid times that we’re living in, where we have little access to leadership and meaningful spiritual guidance is rare, many people want other people, trusted authorities, to tell them how to live their lives. It may be why astrology has become more popular recently, but that’s not what astrologers are meant to do. Astrologers are meant to support the decisions that clients want to make for themselves to begin with, to empower them to make their own conclusions.
a. Positive Growth and Development
Astrologers encourage client growth and development and avoid fostering dependent relationships. Astrologers do not tell clients what they should do with respect to choices in relationships, career, relocation, sex, finances, or any other matter. While the astrologer may clarify matters as revealed in the chart, provide insight into the nature of conflicts, empathize with the client’s dilemma, or recommend a course of action, the astrologer respects and supports the client’s capacity for decision-making.” (ISAR code of ethics)
I have completed 103 “mini readings” of me recording a video talking about a chart’s inherent qualities and the ways that transits have activated their chart. I have gotten strong, positive feedback on these videos, which motivated me to keep going, however I feel more certain, and less alienated, when I am speaking with a person in real time. Instead of sending the video and write-up over to my client, I sent them a letter instead. Part of it read:
From here on, I would prefer to conduct my services via Zoom or video chat, and will be reconsidering offering pre-recorded birth chart readings at all. I want you, and my clients, to feel like you are the co-creator of your life, along with "the universe". For me to prescribe everything to you has questionable ethics, and in the video I made for you it's clear in my voice that I'm not comfortable to "do a reading" without another human presence. Because at the end of the day you play a very important part in all of this. And I now understand why the astrologers that I look up to do "consultations" and not “readings”.
In a reading, a client may not feel like they are allowed to correct the astrologer. In a pre-recorded reading, they are not able to do that whatsoever! Clients should always feel like they can interrupt, step in, and steer the course of the “reading” at any time. If a reading is pre-recorded there is no space for this correction, and the client may not be able to get the most out of the service.
There is a difference between a consultation and a reading. In a consultation, the client consults with the astrologer. They use astrology as a tool to derive meaning together. The power is shared. A “reading” implies that an astrologer is an all-knowing all-powerful prophet who knows the client better than the client knows themselves.
While I do get a thrill when my predictions are right, I am far more excited when I am proved wrong and can learn more about life. It is beautiful to see the wonderful ways that constant matter rearranges itself in infinite combinations in our lives. In my practice as an astrologer, it is more fulfilling to witness God than to pretend that I am God.
So I am taking a step away from the pre-recorded mini readings until I can work out something that I am comfortable and satisfied with. All of my consultations via video chat, or in person, are recorded, and come with a write-up as well. They simply require a little more human interaction, which might require a little more courage.