Astrology is growing into a beautiful and multifaceted entity. Today, it is more refined and diversified than ever before. The revival that started at the beginning of the 20th century has stimulated research and development in ways that cannot be compared with previous times in history. The field of astrology is now wide, rich and complex; it encompasses forecasting, divination (horary), psychological evaluation and coaching, medical evaluation, analysis of mundane trends, as well as spiritual development and self-realization. Astrology reflects life in all its forms and as the individual opens up to new dimensions of being, these new insights are integrated within the field of astrology as well. There is much more to excavate and learn about it, but already today, many approaches and techniques make it a valuable tool for understanding existence and orienting efforts. The various approaches have all proven the relevance of their foundations in the course of time and experience: the Vedic, Traditional (Medieval, Hellenistic, Babylonian, etc?, Galactic, and so called Modern (Psychological, Karmic and Evolutionary). The diversity therein is akin to life itself: a source of fascination and conflict. Religious wars exist inside the field of astrology because our critical mind wants to discriminate what works from what doesn’t in order to find truth and reliability. A common problem, however, is that many assumptions are made based on prejudice and self-righteousness; as in every other field, there are ideological and political disagreements.

Relatively speaking, full time astrologers are rare today because astrology has not yet fully won the approval of the mass consensus, a reality that affects its market size. It remains a uranian-neptunian domain that exists on the fringes and is commonly subject to prejudice and misunderstanding from both the intellectuals and the religious. Many professional astrologers are focused on changing this status and proving the integrity of this field. They are working on developing codes of ethics and professional standards in order to better shape its development, strengthen its foundation, and increase its credibility. In a naturally uranian way, the attempt is to upgrade its minimum standards and introduce a more academic dimension to it. There is great value and danger in that effort; I personally find the academic astrologer often caught up in his/her own fear of being discredited by mainstream intellectuals, and consequently obsessed with making astrology too politically correct in order to gain academic approval. This attitude ends up squelching the impulse to become and diversify. The need for more order is not in question, but this approach is frighteningly similar to conventional medicine dismissing “alternative?methods. What must be important is what works and helps someone, not what will satisfy academic standards. Moreover, if we may compare astrology to medicine again, even advanced doctors take risks and speculate when making a diagnosis and suggesting healing options. As it is with all sciences, astrology is also in a continual process of discovery and therefore, subject to redefinitions. This doesn’t undermine its current value. Our reference must be our clients?development and betterment, and success stories abound which validate its value and reliability.

So what does it take to become a part-time or full-time astrologer today? The most common services offered are counseling and forecasting. When further integrating into the discipline, teaching classes for beginners or amateurs, publishing articles or even appearing in local media, as well as lecturing in different conventions or social settings are the next logical steps (within which there are different levels of exposure and development). A higher level of mastery will induce research and development of the art and science, book publishing, professional tutoring, social development and expansion through the creation of various organizations and conventions, or else, development of software and other creative endeavors. A part-time astrologer may focus solely on one of these functions and services, while a full-time astrologer would most likely not survive economically without offering a wide range of these services.

Counseling and Forecasting

Chart reading and guidance is such a valuable service to an individual. Astrology offers an exceptionally rich perspective on the energies and circumstances at play; quite often a single good reading can recharge a client for many months. Unlike many psychologists, astrologers usually play a more active role in the counseling session. Personally, I ask the client questions based on what I see rather than wait for things to surface. Especially when focusing on the evolution of consciousness, a counseling session is a moment of truth for the client. It is not only a time for support and direction but also for alignment. An honest discussion about the client’s life can be engaged within which the need for adjustments is explored and advice is given in order to make the best of the chart’s energy and upcoming transits. The astrologer can challenge the client, although, to a certain extent only. The purpose is to help; therefore overly pressuring someone is no real service, no matter how right the astrologer may be. There is a need to assess how far one may stretch boundaries and a great sensitivity is required for that. The best way to have a productive reading is to discuss things with the client rather than lecture him/her. A session can start with the astrologer giving an overview of the chart dynamics, and then asking the client if he/she can relate and describe life circumstances that match what has been discussed. From there, a dialogue opens. Because there can be a challenging dimension to the reading, some clients may not come out of it happy and satisfied because they did not get what they expected. Still, if the reading is of quality, the insights soon prove themselves to be valuable through life circumstances. The purpose is to be truthful not overly romantic, and yet, without being inappropriate or insensitive. If the astrologer works from the heart, eliminating self-righteousness or sarcasm, the client will open up and better integrate what is being said whether supportive or challenging. The client must be convinced the astrologer is on his/her side; when this trust is established, eventual criticism is better taken and useful.

The session can be intense and penetrating in a relatively short time span. It may require the client time to assimilate things. Therefore, it is highly recommended to tape the session. A week later, a client will remember about 20% of what has been said. A tape is necessary to recapture the whole dynamic. Moreover, the tape is a proof of what you said. Quite often, clients have selective hearing; they may disregard what they don’t want to hear or misinterpret it, sometimes even distort it. Going back to the tape clears that. This also means the astrologer must be responsible for what they say; it’s on tape! The astrologer should also be available for clarification questions after the reading; you do not want your client to understand things the wrong way. The drawback of having a single session is that you do not usually have a follow-up with your client, unless they choose to call and report their experience. Thus, availability for some exchange after a reading is beneficial.

I personally advise a normal session to last between an hour and two hours maximum. More than that can overload the brain, no matter how accurate the content may be. Overly extended sessions can be like chewing the same gum over and over. The client may hold on and keep asking questions, or the astrologer delivers too much information and too many details ?it may end up inefficient; boundaries must be established. Shorter than an hour sessions may be too short for the client to grasp and assimilate. Often deep emotional content is exposed, it is important not to wrap things up too fast, unless circumstances support that. Still, each counselor, session and client has *its individual needs; there is no absolute statement about the length of a reading.

It is important to price your reading well. The rate will depend on the environment economic conditions and on the astrologer’s level of expertise. A beginning astrologer can start training him/herself by giving free readings to family or friends. Starting to charge is necessary at some point because it gives weight and value to the reading; the client will give it more importance when paying for it. Charging also puts more responsibility on the astrologer; the person expects more when he/she pays; there is less playing around at this point. Still, the beginning astrologer must gain confidence in knowing that he/she knows things through the chart that the client does not know. He/she will surely add something to the client’s life; this is service enough. Astrologers are not lifesavers or seers, and should not present themselves as such; reducing these forms of expectations will put the counselor more at ease. Charging a “solid?price also gives value to the whole profession, removing it from amateurism. Charging too much can also ruin a reading, for the higher the price, the bigger the expectations and the more common the disappointments. Moreover, consider the fact that people may need your help and not be able to afford the fee; astrology must not be accessible only to the elite. Sliding scales can resolve that issue.

Clients may come for a reading to gain clarity and find direction when going through a crisis or when having to make important decisions. Others may come when they are curious about it and want to learn more about themselves and their alignment process. A client may come only for one session, get the insights and not feel the need to come back for years. Other clients may come every six months or once a year; you consequently need many different clients to have a full practice. It is not easy to market astrology because new clients often come as a result of word of mouth rather than advertising; this means it takes time to build a reputation and be trusted. It is therefore advised to start a counseling practice when having another already remunerating job; one cannot expect to finish school and start supporting oneself with readings right away.

In Evolutionary Astrology, forecasting comes after the psychological and soul developmental dynamics have been covered in the reading. It is assumed that to make the best use of future influences, one must first know about the necessary work on the self. Other approaches in astrology can isolate forecasting from counseling ?it has its validity and serves people.

While the chemistry with some clients may not be optimal, most of the time the reading is highly rewarding for both the client and the astrologer. The intensity created in the intimate atmosphere where the heart and the soul are out of their shell is unique and makes the moment highly meaningful. Consider the fact that you will be wrong at times; there is no way around it and this is fine as long as you don’t sell yourself as perfect. The reading is a learning experience for the counselor; it is time to apply the knowledge to real life. Even when nailing every issue with precision, there is always a dimension of research and study in the reading time; it may be the best way to learn more about astrology ?from direct experience.

Marketing and Expansion

As mentioned previously, it is not easy to market astrology and gain credibility. Not only is it a profession that is highly misunderstood, but additionally, since it deals with such intimate aspects of one’s life, people do not trust counselors easily. There is a need to educate the wider public that astrology has more to offer than predictions; it is one of the best tools to help one with realignment and self- realization on all levels. Probably more than 90% of the public does not know that there is a counseling dimension to astrology; a lot of work is required in explaining what the service is about.

A major block that new astrologers may have is in discriminating their clients. One has to be open to the wide range of ages, backgrounds and motivations. Some will come to know when they will get rich, others out of curiosity, or else in search for their soul purpose. The first step is to explain what you do in an encouraging way; if from there, they still want to sign up, never refuse a client! (unless you perceive they are dangerous) Don’t find excuses to bail out, don’t be too busy, but rather, dedicate yourself to the task and do it. Experience is important and so is building a clientele; do the work and let life take care of the rest. Many clients ask the trivial questions about “when the marriage or the money?because they don’t know that astrology has more to offer. You can reply in offering probabilities for relationships or financial opportunities, but on top of that, take them on a ride to their soul ?you will give them something they will value and get out of the reading with more than they expected. The bottom line is to accept the wide range of people that may be interested for one reason or another. Conversely, do not give readings/counseling advice to people who do not ask for it! Imposing your wonderful skills will only lead to defensive attitudes. The “I know what’s good for you?attitude pushes people away in most cases. Talk about what you know and what you can do, and let the person decide for themselves if they need your services.

Very importantly ?Do not hide the fact that you are an astrologer and that you give readings! Tell your family, mention it to your friends and co-workers, put the word out there – don’t push it, but don’t be ashamed of it! It is true that some may think it is stupid, but you have to be confident with who you are; people will respond to your attitude towards it. Don’t expect potential clients to trust you if you are afraid of public opinions about astrology.

A good exposure opportunity is participating in psychic fairs or settings of that sort. Doing 15 to 30 minutes mini-readings is good to train your improvisation skills and focus on what is eminent and important in a chart. There is no “opportunity?to prepare for days for a reading in this context ?it is about jumping in the water and letting the chart talk to you ?and it does! Enough to discuss a particular aspect of the chart ?just the Nodes, or just the “Mars/Saturn in the 4th House?- It will be relevant information, even if not as deep as a regular reading. Lighten up! These fairs expose the astrologer to the public. On this note, do consider that when working in a regular setting, there is a need to gradually decrease the preparation time for a reading. The more confident you are with your knowledge, the more you will be able to work in the present and require minimal preparation. When having many readings and other related activities, you won’t be able to afford days of work on a single chart.

Writing articles for local new age magazines is one of the best ways to pierce through. You are considered professional and people will trust you if a magazine publishes something you write. It is not easy to get through, but it happens ?try, and try again; make your article accessible and yet deep.

Start teaching beginners at your home: minimum costs, and yet a great way to gain experience, extra income, and popularity. If you have enough knowledge to counsel clients, you surely have enough knowledge to describe astrological archetypes, elements and aspects. It is easier than you think and yet, it does require tremendous work! Teaching will force you to organize your knowledge, explain the details ?you cannot be vague if you are a teacher, but you don’t have to have all answers either. Start with a group of five ?most likely only two will remain. This is normal, people drop out when they realize that astrology is not something you learn in two classes? nothing personal! If all five drop out, well?you may have to refine your skills?Be generous with the knowledge you share; give all that you know in the defined time-frame, and the universe will replenish you with new insights. Some teachers withhold information to keep control over their students ?the students consciously or unconsciously feel that and eventually leave; it doesn’t work! You are doing great service to yourself, your students and to astrology through teaching, you allow it to expand and have a future. It is one of the best ways to take off with your practice, given that you already have some counseling experience.

When advertising your counseling service or classes, use new-age magazines rather than daily newspapers or other generalized media; target your audience! Moreover, when advertising in general media, you are more likely to attract weirdos and freaks that will waste your time and benefit little from what you give.

Once you start teaching, tape yourself and send the tape to a conference organizer. Keep sending as your presentations improve. Breaking into the conference circle is a very positive step. It is a wonderful exposure and a way to get acquainted with other colleges; your network will expand and you will have fun. Some conferences pay very well, others barely so; it depends on the philosophy of the organizer and the financial success it has. But in any case, try to make it, especially if you are just breaking through ?it is worth losing money on it since the eventual gain in exposure is usually greater. You can also duplicate your tapes and sell them to people who cannot attend your classes in person.

Creating a website about your practice is important along the road. There are two main types of websites formats. The first is more basic; it consists of presenting all your services online with some background about yourself. It is a one time effort with occasional updates, much like an elaborate business card. It is strongly advised to showcase at least two articles you have written on an astrological topic. This adds professional credibility and allows people to evaluate your approach. The second type of website requires much more work, but may be a great advertisement tool; a website that provides constant, updated information that keeps surfers coming. You can post new articles or forecasts on a regular basis for example. Some websites also provide all kinds of technical services like chart generators and the like. This usually requires advanced programming skills, but then, if you have something unique to offer, it may be worth hiring someone for the service. You can add a forum to your site, although this is a big gamble; most forums remain empty and having an empty forum on your website is not good Feng Shui if you know what I mean. It is best to launch a forum when you already are in a prominent teaching position and know that students will use the service. Importantly, try to invest as much as you can in your website’s appearance; aesthetics and originality make a big difference.

Closing Thoughts

Being a professional astrologer, you are on your own ?for better or for worse. You have a flexible schedule doing something valuable that you probably love; it is a very fulfilling profession. Yet, you can only survive in it if you are creative, self- disciplined and open to adventure. No one can guarantee that clients will come – you must live with uncertainty and find creative ways to access the public. Sometimes, demand is high without effort, other times it’s the other way around. Basically, you need a strong Mars to keep pushing and a good Neptune to flow and improvise. You need a strong Sun to empower people and light up their spirits, and a healthy Saturn to help align people with their chart’s energy and gain their trust.

Starting as a part-time professional is the sane option. Otherwise, pressure may be too much too soon. Doing so may facilitate a smoother transition to eventually becoming a full time professional when foundations and confidence are more grounded. So, for those of you who are ready for the leap, get the best education you can and from there, you will gradually learn from your own experience; learning will not stop once you start!