By Maurice Fernandez
As the leader of OPA and having travelled the world to different astrology communities and witnessed the different approaches and mentalities, the breakthroughs and crises, and the general development of our practice, I’m fairly optimistic about our next potential, and also, fairly lucid about what may sabotage the growth of our practice and culture.
Looking at the upcoming transits, we can identify what the coming cycles have to say about key moments in the near future of Astrology.
Astrology seems to be prominently symbolized by the planet Uranus and the sign of Aquarius, as well as the cyclic rhythm of the Jupiter/Uranus cycle. In the book The Professional Astrologer, I have also referred to important breakthroughs in the field, occurring during Uranus to Nodal axis conjunctions (and other major aspects to each other).
We can notice these upcoming configurations to possibly represent key moments in Astrology’s development:
- 2017 – The Jupiter/Uranus opposition in Libra/Aries
- 2020 (Dec 21) – The 20 year Jupiter/Saturn conjunction at 0 Aquarius
- 2022 (August 1) – Uranus conjunct the North Node at 18 Taurus
- 2023-2043 – Pluto in Aquarius
- 2024 (April 21) – Jupiter/Uranus conjunct at 21 Taurus
These powerful transits indicate a unique opportunity for breakthroughs in astrology. With a strong emphasis in the signs of Taurus and Aquarius, it seems obvious that the dialogue between Earth and Sky must gain new grounds, or in other words, that the material approach to our astrology practice will need to upgrade and adjust to changing needs.
Where are we headed? Where should we be heading?
Let’s explore our milestones and our current limitations.
MAKING A LIVING FROM ASTROLOGY
With the age of the internet, astrologers are now able to advertise their services and gain greater visibility at minimal costs, reaching clients around the world and building more global communities like never before. With a greater pool to draw from, it is more possible today for many astrologers to support themselves and lead a full-time practice.
Challenge: Astrologers are still not adequately remunerated for their service and expertise. As a result, most people do not have faith that they can make a living from this practice, and therefore, astrology studies and practice are still largely categorized as a luxury expense, and as a result, people are not able to justify investing time and money into their astrology education the same way they would pay for law or culinary schools. Instead, astrology enthusiasts enroll in short courses and learn from scattered information online, and as a result, fail to gain the necessary backbone and confidence to practice, or worst, claim to be able to practice with these meager foundations. For many, the practice of astrology is often limited to a ‘retirement plan’ for those who finally allow themselves to follow their true passion, when they are past the financial burden of having to raise a family.
The lack of abundance and prosperity ultimately hurts the quality and growth of astrology. Relying on people who invest their soul and personal finances in astrology and do it for love is a good starting point, but not a sustainable approach ultimately.
While we are on a good track in this direction, changing mentalities and making this profession more financially secure is a work in progress. OPA is very conscious about this issue, and yet, as an organization, we too struggle to pay our speakers deservingly. We can be optimistic about the movement of Uranus into Taurus, and the upcoming Jupiter/Uranus and Uranus/North Node conjunctions in Taurus to completely upgrade the financial approach to astrology. Free contents will always remain accessible online, but we can aim at doing true financial justice to services provided.
CREDIBILITY, QUALITY, AND RIGOR
There is now more rigor and more comprehensive educational programs that enhance the credibility of astrology practice. While Science and Religion still demonize Astrology, sometimes for truly valid reasons, astrologers today are better educated and more diverse and professional in their practice.
Challenge: Astrology is one of the most powerful tool that fuses science, art, and spirituality; it is built on the foundations of measure, interpretation, and meaning. So, what does it mean to be more rigorous in our practice? Should astrology be quantified in reference to Newtonian laws of physics and be entirely empirical and predictable? Astrologers find themselves pressured by the need for more credibility, and as a result, can sometimes vilify each other using self-righteous claims to know what is valid from what isn’t, dismissing at times pertinent interpretations that cannot be systematically quantified. We should all remember that there is no real proven understanding about how astrology really work, to begin with.
Notwithstanding, astrology knowledge needs to evolve on the foundation of more reliable research methods. While it is in the nature of astrologers to commonly be free-thinkers and immensely creative, and as such, potentially bring truly valuable new realizations and knowledge to the table, more objective standards of investigation, research, and use must evolve in our methods. With the next cycle of Jupiter and Saturn in Aquarius, we may not only expect greater interest in the study of the skies, but an upgrade in our standards of research. The necessity for this goes beyond a yearning for approval, but it is a quest for better service.
Similarly, improvement can begin with better educating astrology students and practitioners about the building blocks of astrology, such as for example, teaching astronomical references. Perhaps, every astrologer should know about the Precession of the Equinoxes and other central Astronomical phenomenon. Such a perspective can naturally help everyone be better equipped with arguments when debates arise about the validity of astrology.
DIVERSITY, GROWTH, AND DESERVED TOLERANCE
With the upsurge of psychological and modern astrology in the 80’s and the revival of traditional astrology through the translation of ancient texts in the 90’s and early 2000’s, Astrology has expanded exponentially, toward the past and future simultaneously. Moreover, we see more fusion of Vedic and Tropical astrology approaches.
Challenge: We must continue to reconcile different approaches and enrich astrology’s content and culture—astrology should not be homogenized to avoid conflict, but benefit from its diversity. It is time for astrologers to move beyond divisive approach about which house systems to use or whether traditional or modern rulers are the valid ones. We should know by now that these different approaches are all valid and that they each serve a purpose in different contexts. While debates and differing opinions are part of our creative growth, tolerance and understanding must prevail, without for that compromising rigor. How so? More emotional maturity to overcome our biases, an open mind, and better research to validate the different approaches.
THE FUTURE ASTROLOGERS
The first generation of prominent modern astrologers were born in the 1940’s with Uranus in Gemini, some of them on their North Node (1946). We found prolific writers, such as Liz Greene or Rob Hand, who provided deeper (often psychologically leaning) astrology material and the building blocks of our modern astrology culture.
The mid 60’s and 70’s were astrologers born with the Uranus/Pluto conjunction in Virgo who made considerable progress in making astrology a more viable profession. Those born a bit later with Neptune in Sagittarius and Pluto in Libra often thrived in the internet era of knowledge profusion and diversity, boosting research, expanding the reach of astrology and creating more communities. Many of them were inspired to bring a more spiritual meaning to astrology practice.
Astrologers born in the 80’s and 90’s, with Neptune and then also Uranus in Capricorn became more exposed to more traditional astrology from the get go, as the knowledge was being recovered around that time. Regardless of their orientation, they contribute to solidifying the foundation of astrology and gaining more credibility. Most of them are still in the budding phase of their professional practice and will certainly be a central force in the future of astrology.
Future astrologers born from the 90’s to 2010, with the strong Neptune, Uranus interplay: Conjunct in Capricorn and then Aquarius, and in mutual reception with Uranus in Pisces and Neptune in Aquarius, are bound to become key players in the development of astrology, fusing science with spirituality as their modus operandi. Many will be further exposed to astrology during the Pluto in Aquarius era, and under the Jupiter/Saturn conjunction cycle of 2020. We can expect this generation to break new frontiers in many directions, in reaching greater masses through astrology, developing new research, and revealing completely new insights and approaches to the understanding and use of astrology.
The Future of Astrology: Academic or Esoteric
By David Cochrane
The 21st century started with astrology entering the academic mainstream. Kepler College granted academic degrees from 2000 to 20121. The dream of an academic institution where one can receive a degree in astrology was, however, short-lived because Kepler College was unable to receive the required accreditation to continue to grant academic degrees. The closest we have now to academic degree granting educational institutions with a specialization in astrology are colleges that teach primarily the historical and cultural aspects of astrology rather than an emphasis on actual chart interpretation.
Will the Doors to Academia Open Again?
Is the profession of astrology destined to be an endeavor supported only by our grassroots organizations like OPA, and are we forever to be excommunicated from the hallowed halls of academia? Are we always to be engaged in an esoteric discipline that exists outside the mainstream, but is nevertheless an important, thriving, and vital alternative to mainstream psychology, therapy, and counseling?
To answer this question, I wish to share some of my own personal experiences that I believe will shed some light on this topic. Like many astrologers, I combine astrology with other areas of interest. Many of us have extensive training in psychology, symbolism, and myths. Some of us have studied herbs or naturopathic medicine. The financial astrologers among us are well-versed in finance or economics. One of my interests is research methods, and I have lectured at an academic conference on pioneering work in research methods, and I also am a co-author of a paper that was published in the prestigious academic journal “Structural Equation Modeling: A Multidisciplinary Journal”.2
A Hopeful Sign
Much to my surprise when I began taking graduate courses in research methods and statistics and attending academic conferences, my involvement in astrology was generally welcomed and appreciated. My colleagues in research methods, including those who are most respected and, for example, are keynote speakers at conferences, usually do not dismiss astrology as nonsense. Typically they are amazed and surprised when I tell them that I conduct research in astrology. Most of them had no idea that astrology was being researched in a formal manner and they are intrigued. I often get questions about the nature of this research and they become even more intrigued as I answer their questions. If the conversation lasts long enough, the question is raised of whether I have discovered anything in my research. My standard answer is that we are still mostly in the model building stage of research, the models are getting better every day and there have been some confirmations with test data, but we have not yet gotten consistently replicable results in hypothesis tests. This is the kind of language that we research methodologists use, and I am sure that you are able to follow the basic concept of what my response is even if some of the terminology is a bit new to you.
Do We Care? Is this important?
I often wonder what the majority of my astrological colleagues think about the way in which I function in this interdisciplinary way, crossing the boundaries and integrating ideas in research methods with astrology. In reality, the amount of time that I pursue research is very limited because I have a full-time job writing astrology software. Nevertheless, with the helpful collaboration of others who share these interests, tremendous progress in astrological research is being made.
Will my research and the research of others (a) eventually cross the current chasm between academia and astrology, and usher in a future where astrology finds a home in academia as well as being an esoteric study, and (b) do astrologers think that the rapid growth of evidence-based astrology in the past few years is important to astrology and our shared interest in raising professional standards and advancing the goals and mission of OPA?
A New Wave: Evidence-Based Astrology
I was delighted that OPA president Maurice Fernandez gave a lecture at the first annual Kepler Conference in Florida in January, 2017.3 The evidence-based astrology movement is relevant to anyone interested in professional standards in astrology. The Kepler Conference is devoted exclusively to evidence-based astrology. By evidence-based astrology we mean astrological ideas that are supported by more than anecdotal evidence and tradition. It is now clear that evidence-based astrology will continue to grow rapidly in the near future. The number of views of my youtube videos on evidence-based astrology4 continues to dramatically increase, and the response to the videos is very enthusiastic. We also now receive regular requests for new research features in our Kepler and Sirius software5, whereas from about 1990 to 2010 we rarely received requests for new research features.
The evidence-based astrology movement is strong, but will it change the face of astrology? Will it transition astrology to be an academic field as well as an esoteric field? Is this movement going to derail astrology? Are we going to fail in discovering anything important in our research? What is the future of astrology, academic or esoteric? Perhaps most importantly, should astrologers begin to adopt some of the concepts and techniques of modern research methods, such as removing selection bias when gathering data? I won’t go into the details of what selection bias is and how it can often be easily removed here because my point here is that there are simple and powerful things that we can do to determine how astrology works, at least according to the philosophy and specific tools available in modern research methods.
I believe that this is a discussion that we need to have, and I am interested to know the opinion of OPA members. As you probably guessed by now, I am very optimistic and enthusiastic about this new wave of evidence-based astrology and research. The relationship of controlled research studies and scientific methods to astrology can be controversial, and I ask only that we be respectful to each other and respect different opinions. Thank you for reading this article and for considering these issues and questions.
David is the author of two astrology books, a regular lecturer at international astrology conferences, instructor at the Avalon School of Astrology, computer programmer at Cosmic Patterns Software, past President of ISAR, has created over 260 free tutorial videos available at youtube.com, author of numerous articles and research papers, and pioneer in the development of Vibrational Astrology. He has collaborated with dozens of astrologers on astrological software products and research projects.