How do we decipher who qualifies as a real astrologer?
A recent BuzzFeed article featured four astrologers talking about how horoscopes and astrology are still a craze on the internet. It’s a favorable story on astrology. I personally know two of the astrologers interviewed. But the other two aren’t astrologers. At all. I take offense to that. In fact, one has described herself as a fake astrologer. They’re writers only, not astrologers who also write like my colleagues Chani Nicholas or Susan Miller. But how would anyone else know that?
And that’s one of astrology’s biggest problems and has been…forever. You don’t need to be licensed or certified to be an astrologer, anywhere. So, yes, you could read only ONE book on astrology or barely know the 12 signs and dub yourself an astrologer. And no one could legally say jack.
It’s a sad truth about a field I’ve studied for more than half of my near 50 years of life. Of course, there are certification programs from schools and astrological organizations like ISAR, NCGR, or AFA. These programs try to bring more standardized learning and practice into the field. But, again, you don’t need those to practice. And the public mostly doesn’t know those programs exist. Many don’t even care if the astrologer seems accurate and clear.
That last point is important. Astrologers tend to talk in arcane terms about planets and signs that aren’t relatable. And that’s perhaps why writers fare better in print and online as fake astrologers than real ones. Twitter was eye-opening to me for that very reason. I could get immediate feedback and questions on concepts that I thought everyone understood. For instance, many didn’t know that they had a moon sign because the moon shifts signs every 2.5 days. So, now I cringe when I see astrologers tweet, “Moon is void of course at 4:54 pm today! Good time to chill!” If the astrologer hasn’t taken the time to explain what “void of course” means, most won’t know why they should chill. It just sounds like a celestial omen to be obeyed. We aren’t mysterious, ancient priests anymore.
And that’s certainly one important benefit of the internet. It opened astrology up to the world. What once could only be known in books and periodicals, underpublicized conferences and meetings, or classes in occult and rare bookstores can be known with a finger glide across your computer’s keyboard.
Yet, it’s still hard to know what’s written or said by a real astrologer. But there are several ways to know.
- Check out how the astrologer describes him or herself! Many writers about astrology never claim to be astrologers, because they know they’re not. Not every piece you read on the web about horoscopes or a sign will be written by an astrologer. In fact, many publications have taken to hiring non-astrologers because they can pay less. Many editors think it’s all entertainment, anyway. So, they don’t invest much in the pieces. And that’s okay if all you’re looking for is a good laugh or something to read. But I wouldn’t take to heart that you should vacation in St. Maarten because some article said that fits your sign, for example.
- See if they list how much experience the astrologer has in his or her craft. Or what certifications they’ve gotten; the teachers with whom they’ve studied; or where they’ve taught classes or given talks. Chances are if someone teaches astrology, he or she might know something. That won’t guarantee he or she is good. But it increases the possibility that he or she is an actual astrologer.
- Check with other astrologers you might know. Many aren’t aware that astrologers often do know each other. Sometimes our starry-eyed world is smaller than you would think, even though there are diverse forms of astrology and astrologers. And, sure, we don’t all know each other. But if you ask around enough, there’s a good chance that someone will know the astrologer or writer in question. If you want to meet more astrologers and lovers of astrology, then you’re going to want to be here in May 2018. Not all good astrologers socialize, of course. But many do. I’ve seen that the many writers who like to profit off astrology don’t socialize with other astrologers. But they love to be fawned over by the public. Again, some of the best astrologers are off the grid. Yet, they’re also likely not to have much of a public profile with books, blogs, etc. These are folks who are content to have their practice spread by word of mouth and an occasional public event.
- Read what they write about astrology. Most often non-astrologer writers can’t talk about much beyond sun sign stuff. Simple enough reason: their knowledge of astrology might not be much deeper than the next person. Every real astrologer I know has invested in his or her astrological education with books, magazines like The Mountain Astrologer, Dell Horoscope or Hexagon, or countless hours of listening to talks, lectures, or recordings. Many of these writers are just clever enough to know how to riff off what’s funny or interesting about Zodiac signs. For learned astrologers, that’s the equivalent of a 2nd grade education. As I say often, Astrology is a very tall building and Zodiac signs are just the lobby level.
- Read more about astrology on your own. I’ve listed some of my favorite websites and resources here. These are sites and books from genuine astrologers, living or dead. There are many, of course, that I don’t know. But it’s good to vet a source from someone or something rather than have nothing.
Again, you don’t need certification or licensing to be an astrologer. Though it’s nice to have a process to know what you don’t know. That can be hard to do when you’re self-taught. The worlds of astrology are vast.
And the only reliable measure for who is a “real” astrologer is that he or she practices or researches astrology. That doesn’t guarantee that anyone does it well or knows it thoroughly. Astrology hasn’t reached that level yet. It might never do so. Some even argue whether it should. Yet, I think it’s important to know who is a real astrologer.
Not everyone can or would be willing to share who has been his or her teachers in astrology. Not all astrologers have had actual living teachers. Many have only been able to rely on books, experimentation, and experience. Not everyone can or should be certified in a program. Not everyone can write or talk about astrology well. But the mark of a real astrologer is his or her commitment to learning and loving astrology. It’s not entertainment for him or her. It’s not just another thing that he or she writes about for pay or a book deal. It’s his or her calling and love. If you love astrology, then show enough love and respect for it to find an astrologer who can give it to you. For real.
*Special shout-out to Sellieve Neptune for asking this on my personal Facebook page.