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I Understand

IT’S BACK!! The Astrologer, the Counsellor and the Priest

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It’s back. This is the reprint of the incredibly popular CPA Press version, now safely nestled amongst the other Wessex Astrologer titles.
The two seminars in this volume, given by astrologers with extensive psychotherapeutic training as well as many years’ experience of astrological work, will be an enormous asset to any astrologer working in a counselling role. This book may also be disturbing to those astrologers who feel that reading the horoscope, because it seems “detached” and different from traditional psychotherapy, alleviates the astrologer of any personal responsibility for inner work. The real depth and richness of astrological work is presented here in an accessible but profound fashion, enlivened by the seminar format and relevant for anyone wishing to use astrology to work with others.

Juliet Sharman-Burke

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Like The Art of Stealing Fire, this title comprises two seminars conducted in 1996, one led by Juliet Sharman-Burke (Astrological Counselling), the other by Greene (the title of this book), for the CPA. The common theme is: How to be a good counselling astrologer. What are the requirements to be one? What are the boundaries? To what extent should an astrologer immerse in psycho-engagement while analysing a horoscope? As noted in the blurb, the ideas advanced here may trouble astrologers who shy away from psychotherapy, viewing chart work as essentially divinatory, detached and impersonal.
Sharman-Burke’s seminar is highly practical. She talks about the kind of environment in which the consultation should be conducted, the time allotted (as a form of boundary-making), fees, referrals and dealing with friends’ requests to read their charts. (My personal strict rule is to agree to a brief free analysis if asked – but for a deeper exploration and forecasting, here’s my list of charges.) Analysing couples and dealing with death themes are also included – much of it a matter of common sense and ethical consideration, but the value lies in hearing all this from an experienced astro-psychotherapist.
How should one deal with clients’ tears? asks an audience member. Hold their hand and say “There, there”? Or is there the risk that in so doing you are trying to contain the client – to get them to stop crying through comforting? Yes, it can be complicated.
Greene’s seminar – as one might expect – addresses the larger archetypal, psychological and emotional issues of astrology. At the time of her talk, Pluto was in tropical Sagittarius, a period of “questioning, religious anxiety, intolerance, fanaticism, and sectarianism”; and these themes inform the seminar: she feels that because of the transit, astrology is “under fire”. Hence the need to better understand the role of the astrologer and the nature of astrology, viewed as “fringe” by mainstream society.
We are encouraged to examine the “ancient roots of astrology”, to appreciate that once upon a time astrologers were like priests. We no longer see ourselves as such, yet in our role we retain something of the “bridge” between heavenly and human worlds – and this is worth acknowledging even if this prompts tension or inner conflict. Or alienation from peers. Greene seems to be saying: Do not be ashamed of being a priest; understand that the “Judeo-Christian” culture is bound to see us as “heretics”. Own it!
In one remarkable passage, Greene says: “The primary theme that runs through the Orphic myth and teachings is that something must be given up in order to be a priest-teacher. Something must be purified, cleansed, or sacrificed… One must consecrate one’s life in order to be a priest.” What this means in practice is debated but not conclusively answered.
Some readers may find Greene here to be too high-minded, too concerned with the mythic and archetypal significances. But to treat astrology as just another mundane ‘job’ is to ignore the nature of what we actually do. Later in the seminar Greene becomes a lot more down-to-earth and discusses astrologers’ attitudes to fees and value for money. Why, say, do certain financial astrologers successfully advise plutocrats yet fail to apply this advice to their own interests? What’s the fear? Discuss.
Both seminars fizz with stimulating observation, provocation and enlightenment.
Victor Olliver  The Astrological Journal

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