Drawing Down the Stars

Astrology Readings and Research
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Frequently Asked Questions:

What is astrology?

The Oxford English Dictionary Online entry for astrology begins with the following:

“Practical astronomy; the practical application of astronomy as an art to human uses”.

There are many definitions of what astrology can be, and what is not. Most people nowadays associate astrology with newspaper horoscopes, which is a Sun-sign astrology, based only on the position of the Sun on the Tropical Zodiac. This is a very vague perspective, taking into account only one type of position of only one celestial body (the Sun is in Western astrologies one of the seven traditional bodies, alongside the Moon and the five planets visible with the naked eye). My experience of reading Sun-sign predictions from a newspaper is, as probably with the majority of people, a nice way to laugh with friends.

Most professional western astrologers take into account the positions of the Sun, the Moon, the five planets (Mercury, Venus, Mars, Jupiter and Saturn), the Zodiac Signs, the astrological Houses and the relationships between all of them (rulerships, different sets of dignities and debilities, aspects), and how all these link and relate to a particular individual. Planets correspond to different principles (for example, Mercury for learning and communication) that, according to its position and relationships, will show how that particular individual relates to that principle.

Astrology is a model of how the skies can relate to what happens on earth. It is geocentric, as it relates to things on earth, even though we all know that the solar system is heliocentric. Astrologers are also aware of the precession of the equinoxes, a phenomenon that means the Signs in a tropical Zodiac don’t correspond to the position of the constellations we actually see in the skies at present. Constellations have different sizes, while the Zodiac is an abstraction of 12 Signs of equal length. There seems to be an inner logic to the Zodiac and the astrological system, being able to reflect the experiences of human beings using concepts which, in general, have been more or less the same for 2000 years. If the astrological model is understood as an abstract model, a system that grasped a structure of the Cosmos that goes beyond the material realm, it is a matter of personal experience whether this model is useful or not.


Why is Traditional Astrology different?

Contemporary traditional astrology follows the techniques and worldview of different Ancient, Medieval and Renaissance astrologers and thinkers. It is more complex in its techniques than modern astrology, giving, in my opinion, more clarity and detail to the readings. I am particularly inspired by Ptolemy, Guido Bonatti, Cornelius Agrippa and William Lilly, but there are many others. The basic worldview is that everything is connected, not necessarily in a deterministic way (such as a planet causes something) but in the perspective that something that happens in the skies is a reflection of a Divine Order, a Cosmic Harmony with a Divine Chain of Being, which will also have a reflection on Earth. I will explore these concepts throughout the centuries in the Research area

Modern astrology is predominantly psychological, inspired by Jungian archetypes, and uses the transpersonal planets (Uranus, Neptune, and Pluto).  I take all this into account, while trying to keep the traditional worldview, obviously and unavoidably adapted to our modern world.

You speak about Cosmic Harmony. Well I don’t see much of it, to be honest.


The material world is ruled by the natural laws of growth and decay. All living beings in the material world are born and have to die. It is easy to see the harmony in the seasonal cycles of Nature; we cannot have Spring without Winter. It is less obvious to see the cycles in our lives, but they are there! That is one of the things astrology is good for, to learn about our cycles. And that was how I began convinced at first that astrology worked.


 There are also bigger cycles of regions and nations, which affect all humans in a particular area. An earthquake, a financial meltdown or a war won’t probably be visible in a birth chart, they don’t belong to the scope of natal astrology but to a wider field called mundane astrology, the astrology of nations, which to my knowledge no contemporary astrologer has been able to clearly master yet. I hope I may be able at some point to learn some mundane astrology techniques and give it a go. A financial meltdown may not be seen in a birth chart, but a loss of job probably will be! If there is an indication of difficult issues related with career in a birth chart, and the economic mood is not the best, the event of loosing a job is more likely.


In a wider perspective, all difficulties and hard times are moments to learn something, even though we only realise that in the long run, and if we pay attention. If we are to get the most of this life, good and bad, pleasure and pain, happiness and sorrow, they are all necessary. Some people have more of one, some people have more of the other. But we all have some of all, it’s part of life’s journey. It’s how we deal with the journey that matters, and astrology can help by giving perspective and understanding cycles.

How accurate can astrological predictions be?


Let me give voice to Ptolemy, who wrote his astrological compendium, the Tetrabiblos, in the 2nd century CE :


“It is not attempted to be denied that any individual, although he may have attained to the greatest possible accuracy in the science [of astrology], must still be liable to frequent error, arising out of the very nature of his undertaking, and from the weakness of his limited capacity in comparison with the magnitude of his object.”
                                 Tetrabiblos, Book I, n.2, 5, available at http://www.sacred-texts.com/astro/ptb/index.htm


What Ptolemy is saying is that astrology is a very complex field, with too many variables to be error-proof, especially regarding predictions. The way I do the readings, in a lively interaction, allows me to confirm with the client that my judgements about him/her are correct, and, by weighing all the factors involved, to arrive at a clear understanding of the birth chart. I can make some accurate predictions if I’m sure about the timing of an event, but if there are contradictory answers from different techniques I prefer to admit that, and speak more of windows of opportunities that may materialise or not.


If I meet an astrologer that says he can predict everything, or that never fails a prediction, I get very suspicious. After all, every human life is interconnected with its natural environment and society, there are just too many variables to be contained within a natal chart. Ptolemy says:
It is also to be remembered that considerable variations are caused in all creatures by the respective places where they may be brought forth (…), and in addition to this, it must be considered that different modes of nurture, and the variety of ranks, manners, and customs, contribute to render the course of life of one individual greatly different from that of another.”
                                                                                            Tetrabiblos, Book I, n.2, 6-7.                                                

Nevertheless, you can find better or worse astrologers, and due to the lack of a regulator of this craft, and the variety of schools, it’s up to the clients to identify which astrologers better suit what they are looking for. Still,

It would not be fitting to dismiss all prognostication of this character because it can sometimes be mistaken, for we do not discredit the art of the pilot for its many errors. (…) Nor, further, should we gropingly and in human fashion demand everything of the art, but rather join in appreciation of its beauty”
                                Tetrabiblos, Book I, n.2, 9, Robbins translation, from the Loeb Classical Library.           

After all, many other crafts are not 100% error proof: a doctor may sometimes fail to diagnose the condition of a patient, an economist may not be sure about the state of the economy or its trends, and the weather-man misses his forecast once in a while. Nevertheless, it is unthinkable to dismiss medicine, economic sciences or metereology. Why then can it be so common to dismiss straight away astrology, something that presently many people do not have a clue what it is, never enquired to know more about it, and never had an experience with a good astrologer?

It is true that some astrologers don’t provide the best service to their Art, maybe by applying simplistic interpretations, or techniques that have not been tested by the scrutiny of the wider astrological community. In such a complex field as astrology, the learning curve may be slow, especially if one is not deeply dedicated to a lot of study and practice. And, as with any other trade, there are some professionals better than others. Honesty, responsibility and the willingness to contribute to society are not values shared by all, unfortunately, and spirituality in general is an alternative field brushed aside by a mainstream atheistic society, leaving interested people unprepared to have a clear idea of what to expect from practices such as tarot or astrology.


Still, and despite all the misinformed and misleading criticisms throughout the centuries, astrology is still alive today, and is discussed, studied and practiced by many people all over the world. Written resources are widely available, and is up to astrology students and teachers to make the most of them.


Even if we, humans, all have our imperfections and flaws, and we are just a part of a changeable and imperfect natural world, that doesn’t mean that the world, and indeed the universe, have no order or laws. How can a tiny drop in a wider Cosmos as ourselves understand all of them? Maybe it is not possible. But that doesn’t mean that we give up trying. Learning about ourselves, our purpose in this life, and the mysteries of the Cosmos, are all able to be discovered by the one who seeks them.

Why is the initial reading of one and a half hours?


From my experience it is the length of time long enough for both the client and myself not to feel pressured to rush, especially while analysing and remembering past events, and not too long so that the client can absorb the most of it. It is long enough to explore several areas of life with some detail.


If you’d prefer a shorter or longer time let me know and we’ll work something out.


I don’t have Skype. How do I install it?


Go to www.skype.com and click the ‘Download’ option. You’ll get plenty of instructions and help in there if you need. There are subscription plans if you want to use your Skype connection to call fixed or mobile phones, but you don’t have to pay anything for the basic service, Skype-to-Skype (computer to computer) calls, wherever you are.


Why do you prefer webcam readings?


Webcam readings allow me to see the client and be seen, it is the closer we can get to a live reading. Picking up slight reactions on key moments allows me to assess more of what the client wants or doesn’t want to talk about. There’s nothing like a lively interaction between people!


I don’t have a webcam. Do I need one?


Well, just because I prefer to do webcam readings doesn’t mean you need to buy one! Without a webcam we won’t be able to see each other, but we still can do the reading via a Skype audio call. Webcams are very cheap now, and most new laptops have already one built in.


My internet connection is slow.


The best way to check if you have a decent enough connection is to try it! We can schedule a test session before any payment is done. Even if a video call is not possible an audio call probably will be.  If the connection is not good enough, or you don’t feel confident with using Skype, we can do it over the ‘good old phone’ (phone charges at client’s expense).


Copyright 2009-2014, Andre Henriques, All Rights Reserved