The Astrologer, the Counsellor and the Priest – Two Seminars on Astrological Counselling

The Astrologer, the Counsellor and the Priest - Two Seminars on Astrological CounsellingJuliet Sharman-Burke and Liz Greene

In this volume, the complexities and challenges of working as an astrologer are explored on many levels, from the practical to the psychological and philosophical. It is only recently that the responsibilities of the astrologer in relation to the client have begun to be defined, and this book offers sound practical advice about working in the astrological session as well as provocative insights into the reasons why one becomes an astrologer in the first place.

Part One, Astrological Counselling (by Juliet Sharman-Burke) first explores the important issue of boundaries, and then examines the value of sound communication techniques in order to make the astrological session comprehensible and helpful to the client. The interaction between astrologer and client in many typical situations – couples seeking advice, the severely disturbed client, the client wishing to know about death, the problems involved in predicting events – is examined from both a practical and a therapeutic perspective, and an evaluation of the dangers and risks involved in poor communication and prejudgement of the client reminds the astrologer that the horoscope does not render him or her exempt from needing a thorough understanding of human interaction.

Part Two, The Astrologer, the Counsellor and the Priest (by Liz Greene) begins with an examination of the role of the astrologer in context of astrology’s history. The archetypal background which motivates any individual to study astrology is then deeply examined, followed by a discussion of the charts of two great modern astrologers – Dane Rudhyar and Alan Leo – from the perspective of the personal world-view which any individual astrologer espouses. Charts from the group help to illustrate what motivates those who choose to become astrologers. The unconscious dynamics of the astrological session are then discussed, particularly the projections which occur between astrologer and client (transference and countertransference), as well as the deeper psychological reasons – both positive and negative – which impel individuals into taking on the role of the helper

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Review by Anthony Owen: Astrological Journal, March/April 1998

For a profession which spends so much time in trying to connect to the deeper meaning of actions – spiritual or psychological depending on one’s viewpoint – it has always been a surprise to me how little literature there is analysing our own motives for becoming astrologers and how we relate to our clients. From the first time our own or another’s chart suddenly ‘comes alive’ for us we know that we are playing with magic of some sort or another. We know that this is more than just marks on paper, and in stepping outside of the mundane we (hopefully) touch issues which can be of great import for both the client, the astrologer, and, maybe, the collective. This should not be taken lightly.

The latest CPA publication (though the numbering seems to have gone a little awry, this Vol. 2 and Vol. 9 have been published simultaneously, whilst the intervening volumes have been available for a year) brings to bear the considerable talents of two of the centre’s tutors and their students, in a wide-ranging discussion on the practice, power and responsibilities of being a working astrologer. The format is, as usual for this series, a transcript of live seminars, with the disadvantage that there is no methodology in the astrological material covered (lovers of astrological cookbooks should stop here!) However this is far outweighed by the immediacy of real people obviously discussing issues which are important to them. Juliet Sharman-Burke’s section on astrological counselling starts with the most basic of themes, the consultation room, advertising and referrals, charging fees, all so important and so often neglected. Even if you have found working practices which you are comfortable with, this section still contains much of value. Finding out that other astrologers have also had to dare to ask the same questions is both reassuring and challenging to a methodology which may have become a habit. (‘What to do with a client whom we simply do not like?’ ‘What about friends’ charts?’ ‘What to do when a client cries, or threatens me?) From there Ms Sharman-Burke moves on to communication skills and the internal dynamics of a consultation – transference and countertransference.

Which leads to Liz Greene’s section, from which this volume takes its name. Her views on the training and responsibilities of astrologers are well known, and those who do not agree with her will find no comfort here, though she does at one stage admit she is being deliberately provocative. She does, however, give some reasons for her belief that astrologers should themselves go through a process of therapy or psychoanalysis, and links this with the position which we have been ‘forced’ to take by the collective, and hence by many of our clients.

Despite the fact that this seminar also apparently deals with the position of the astrologer both within the ‘helping professions’, society in general and in the consultation room, it still succeeds – in Ms Greene’s customary style – in bringing up personal issues of deeper import. A fascinating consideration of the archetypal background of astrology leads to the analysis of several charts of astrologers – and a virulent ‘non-astrologer’! Finally there is a group discussion on the issues which brought the participants to astrology in the first place and the suggestion that it is of value to study the transits and progressions in operation when any astrologer first begins to consider their art seriously – an exercise which is so blindingly obvious it is likely that few of us have done it; this book is worth getting simply for some of the comments in this section alone.

As an added bonus there are a number of footnotes for further reading, outside astrology but within psychology, which are well wroth following up. It seems churlish to have any complaints about such a valuable book, but there are two which would take so little time to rectify and would be so valuable. Whilst the style of astrology practised by the CPA is very much House-based, for those of us used to more Sign-based charts the ‘American style’ charts used by the CPA are nearly unreadable – please, please, there are so many attractive and easy-to-read computer-generated charts available now the reader surely deserves better. And secondly, as any half-way decent processor can now generate an index in but a few minutes I can see no reason why any book produced now should be without one. By virtue of their format the CPA volumes are books to dip into, and a good index would make that so much easier. These are but details, but when there is so much of value it is a shame that there are any shortcomings!

This is a book which should not just be recommended, but compulsory reading for all professional and semi-professional astrologers. Juliet Sharman-Burke’s section contains advice which will stand anyone in good stead, and Ms Greene’s section asks questions which, whether one agrees with her conclusions or not, should be considered by every astrologer. I would suggest that we risk failing both our clients and ourselves if we do not.

© Copyright 1998 The Astrological Association of Great Britain

Review by Donna van Toen – The Mountain Astrologer, August/September 1998

This book consists of two transcribed seminars given as part of the Centre for Psychological Astrology curriculum. Part One, “Astrological Counselling,” is by Juliet Sharman-Burke, a teacher and consultant in astrology who is also a qualified analytical psychotherapist. In this section, you’ll find a discussion of everything you need to be aware of as a counsellor: boundaries (including time and fees); communication skills (including paraphrasing and the art of asking questions); projection; “splitting off” (and other forms of unconscious communication); and the difficulties caused by using too much jargon. You’ll also find exercises in listening, hearing, and interpreting. The emphasis throughout this section is on practical issues that need to be considered when setting up an astrological practice – from your choice of room to the power of predictions.

The use of questions from an audience of astrologers who have experience seeing clients nearly guarantees that your own questions will be answered, e.g., “what about sliding fees? Do you charge for missed appointments? How do you handle consultations for friends?” These questions and more will be familiar to you, I’m sure. All are addressed thoughtfully and carefully. In fact, most, if not all, of the dilemmas faced by new astrologers are touched on with common sense and compassion. The material in this section is invaluable, and I would guarantee that even seasoned counsellors will learn something, or at least come away from this section with something to think about.

The audience also shares experiences that have not worked so well. There’s the astrologer who went on for three hours with a needy client only to have the needy client still go away unhappy about “not enough time”. There is also the inherent difficulty of not allowing oneself to be trapped into making the client’s decisions for him/her. These are stories from the trenches that are a refreshing change from some fo the self-aggrandizing tales you hear at conferences and meetings. This audience deserves special thanks for making such important contributions to the book. This is must-read material and makes the book well worth acquiring, even before a peek at Part Two.

Liz Greene has written Part Two, “The Astrologer, the Counsellor, and the Priest”. Greene begins with a brief discussion of Pluto in Sagittarius, which includes consideration of the importance for us in knowing why we are doing astrology, and what we are invoking by its practice. There is a discussion of the importance of looking at the transits and progressions you were having when you first became involved with astrology, in order to gain further insight into what you are doing.

The historical role of the astrologer is considered in great depth, along with the archetypal background underlying this role. The horoscopes of Dane Rudhyar, Alan Leo, and Pope John Paul II are discussed in depth as examples of what can motivate the astrologer.

Much time is spent on what actually happens in an astrological session, and charts from the group are used to elucidate principles. Problems surrounding money and power and the narcissistic wound of the helper are particularly well covered.

This book is a must-have. If you are a counselling astrologer, buy this book. If you buy only one book this year, make it this one. It is the most thought provoking book on counselling for astrologers you could ever want.

© Copyright 1998 The Mountain Astrologer

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