The Astrological Society has a well defined programme for teaching astrology. It is based upon a clear astrological pattern and is an effective model for the layering of different levels of chart interpretation - not necessarily in terms of increasing complexity but certainly in terms of enlivening the chart under examination.
The Society believes it is important that the student has an understanding of the geocentric framework. A mechanism which aids this is for students to learn from the start how to draw up a chart using tables of houses and ephemirides and understand, as they work through the calculations, just what these mean in terms of the astrological principles being manipulated. However there is another benefit of the student physically drawing up a chart rather than relying on a computer, or even someone else in the group providing the chart for interpretation. It is a beneficial exercise for the astrologer to copy out the chart by hand giving it full attention whilst so doing. The principle behind this is that when a chart is being constructed the astrologer is in effect creating a map of the subjects psyche, a vessel from which he hopes to draw the strands necessary to effect the chart interpretation. However, astrology is not simply a reflective art but a creative one and the astrologer must put a part of himself into the chart by means of drawing on his own astrological experiences, in order to make a chart interpretation come alive. The chart is the physical manifestation of this vessel and, as such, is a critical component of the end process. It is not simply something to be hurried over in passing onto the symbolism within the chart.
The Society encourages students to learn the nature of the houses, signs, planets and aspects by means of a key word approach, building up a vocabulary of ideas around each astrological principle. As students start to interpret charts they can use the key words and sentences as a basic key into the chart. At the same time as this associative process is taking place the student should be aware also of a feeling response to the entity that their strings of key words are begining to delineate.
To clarify, by associations I mean the movement of the mind from one idea to the next linked idea to the next etc. By feelings I mean the registering of energy states within the individual. Each person has their own feeling vocabulary and this is linked closely to their personal ideals. Most people are aware to some extent of their associative mind in operation, the running internal commentary. However fewer people are aware of the shifts and changes of their own feeling state and how this too is a 'running commentary' signalling their responses to events in their day to day lives. From this it is clear that the feeling state, just as the key word engendered associative process, is present to inform the astrologer. It is important that it is not used as a basis for judgements because it operates at a more automatic level. Since the feeling response embodies an energy state it does enliven the chart being interpreted.
In conjunction with this introductory programme the Society starts to introduce the concept of observational work to the student. A series of observation based exercises are set in order to help the student gather first hand experience of the astrological principles in the world around them, initially, and then of these archetypes operating within their own psychological world and hence within their own chart.
Again to clarify, by observation I mean the placing of the students' attention into their external physical world. Most of the time people are in an sort of half-way state of awareness, partially aware of particular things going on around them but also caught by internal commentaries, images and feelings. The students are initially asked to place all their attention into their surrounding physical world keeping it wide rather than moving from one thing to another thing to the next. Whilst in this state the student is to keep half an eye open for examples of which ever of the astrological principles is being observed that week. When an example comes to light awareness should be allowed to settle on it rather than focussing directly. This will occur in a moment and though this moment is usually short the full nature of the principle is observed, its limitations and fullness, its operation and chief characteristics. Furthermore, even many years after a particular observation, it is as fresh and clear in the memory as if it had been experienced very recently.
After a little time the student can begin to 'step back' and include in the external world the day to day psychological activity within their mind. At this point they can start to observe the astrological archetypes in operation, as depicted in their own chart, and they can truly begin to write their own astrological 'text book' - one based on their own body of experience and incorporating an emotional understanding.
Developing on this theme further, once a student has truly observed, in a moment, part of their chart in operation they have mastery over it rather than it over them. The habit patterns indicated by the particular principle observed will take a while to die away but they have in effect been cut off at the main root and the student can start to operate more from choice rather than habit.
There is, also, a bigger picture to the continued practice of observation in particular and external awareness in general. This is that the change of state necessary for the student to carry out observational work begins the long term process of permanently shifting the basis of consciousness from an habitually responsive moon-based state to one within an individualistic, living-in-the-moment sun-based state. Hence, the Society sees astrology as a clearly defined developmental system that can aid the achievement of sun-consciousness.
Returning to the methodology of chart interpretation. The student will by this stage be able to draw up a chart, know all the key words for the planets, signs, houses and aspects, be aware of their feeling response to these principles and have observed at least some of their chart in operation within themselves. They can now pick from their own body of experience a particular planet and, though they may have seen this in operation in a particular sign, 'move' it to another sign of which they also have knowledge using the combined experiences in their interpretation. Because the students are drawing on their own experience of astrological principles at archetypal level there will be an emotional content to the chart reading, which everyone present will be aware of. If a number of students reach this stage together and begin to operate as a group in this manner then a particularly powerful chart interpretation can take place. One in which the students present each give a part of themselves to create a presence of the subject. Experientially, it is almost as if the subjects essence has been invoked within the field of the group.
Going back to the start of these notes I did suggest an astrological pattern for this interpretation mechanism and I place this below.
Being in the moment,
The completed chart,
Environment of group
© The Astrological Society