All the astrologers I spoke to emphasized confusing factors as one of the main reasons why astrological prediction is never, ever 100 percent safe. “People have misconceptions that the astrologer looks into a crystal ball and sees the future perfectly depicted,” Brennan says, “but that’s actually not what astrology is.”
It is here forecast becomes many astrologers’ favorite future-oriented words: forecasts. Astrological predictions tend to describe the future more thematically or archetypally than concretely, and the vast majority of astrological predictions today fall into this category. Forecasting has more room for various possible outcomes and allows for human error in interpretation. Horoscopes work this way, as do forecasts for the coming year and planetary intrusions, and this is often exactly what happens in one-on-one consultations between astrologers and their clients.
As Sam Reynolds, an astrologer who started out as a skeptic and has served on the board of the international astrology organization ISAR, points out, even character analysis via the natal chart is essentially a form of thematic forecast: “By virtue of looking at your Character, [astrology] can tell what is likely to manifest what we are likely to deal with, “an extension of Heraclitus’ statement that” character is destiny. “Character affects how we navigate the circumstances life throws at us.” Fate has two arms: One of them is yours, “he says.” Astrology is about learning to work with the arm you can work with. “
Working the useful arm of fate is what astrologer, teacher and co-founder of the CUSP app Kirah Tabourn does for himself and his clients. A planning-focused astrologer, Tabourn considers prediction to provide “more grounding in the present by having an idea of the pattern of the future,” including the precious gift of organizing his life. “[Astrological timing] helps people to feel that there is some structure, an order in things, ”she says. “It helps people make decisions.”
If astrology can help determine “the right time” to make decisions, it follows that astrology can also help us distinguish “the wrong time”. The forewarned are pre-armed, as the old saying goes, and the cyclicity of astrology is uniquely positioned to give impoverishment. “As we examine historical and autobiographical astrological cycles, it is important to see where the repetition occurs,” says author-astrologer Pallas Augustine. This may include cyclical recurrences of rhyming difficulties, such as mental or physical health relapses, sore subjects that require deft compassion when occurring in client sessions. Astrological prediction, used gently and skillfully, can help “spot the meaning and the movement [going forward] by looking at what is different, ”Augustine continues.
But knowing that people make choices based on astrology comes with a requirement to be as ethical as possible when translating celestial movements for clients. “Our customers and content consumers are often in a room where we put a lot of emphasis on what [astrologers] say, ”adds Tabourn. “Being really aware of that power dynamic is super important.”
The downside of astrology’s enormous meaning-creating potential? It makes practice vulnerable to the abuse of prudent types with questionable engagement in honorable conduct. An astrologer who is more concerned with being right or being (in) famous than they are with being helpful runs the very real risk of chasing sensationalism at the expense of integrity. This results in people using astrology as an excuse to be an ambulance hunter or to create viral, intimidating content on social media. Astrologers without conscious training in counseling skills or trauma-informed practices, even those with the very best of intentions, inadvertently risk harassing their clients instead of supporting them. Some professional astrological organizations try to solve these problems through ethical rules, but because there is no governing body that dictates who can and cannot call themselves an astrologer, such codes are limited in their ability to govern in practitioners, behaving irresponsibly. In addition, these codes cannot, by their very nature, fully address ethical differences across cultures or generational gaps.