rob_hand.jpgAs a whole (except when privately kvetching between themselves behind another’s back), astrologers are quite allergic to criticism; whether providing it thoughtfully or accepting it. It is just not done, constructively or otherwise.

My personal theory is that since the word “astrology” is synonymous with pariah, most astrologers find themselves operating as a kind of functional outlaw, living somewhere on a continuum between a healthy capacity to question authority and a pathological disdain for accountability of any kind.

While various astrological organizations around the world have tried to address this by attempting to boost the “image” of astrology by establishing various qualifying criteria, in practice, there are very few meaningful standards in astrology (particularly in the US), either educationally or ethically. In fact, the US, both ISAR’s and the NCGR’s list of qualified or “certified” astrologers are largely populated with people who either never completed a recognized course of study or took a single astrological exam — that is most of these “certified astrologers” were granted a kind of honorary certifications (generally the criteria was that they were a “known” astrologer, which in practice meant that they were known to ISAR or NCGR board members). The situation with the AFA certification is somewhat different as they have never given a Professional Certificate to anyone who has not completed all exams; the main criticism leveled at the AFA is that it is that the exams lack rigour — a criticism which has also been directed toward ISAR and NCGR).

Fact is, since astrology is not a culturally recognized profession, anyone can hang out a shingle and set up an astrology practice. It is entirely up to potential consumers to figure out whether a particular astrologer has any real astrological education or ability (the two are not one and the same, though the former must by necessity, preceed the former). Many of the most innovative, imaginative and responsible astrologers are self-taught, though there are many so-called “self-taught astrologers, as well as those who boast of being “certified” who should be avoided.

Speaking of self-taught astrologers:

About a week ago, as I listened NPR’s Robert Siegal, host of All things Considered interview Rob Hand about the banishment of Pluto from the conscious solar system brouhaha, I was pleasantly surprised at the way in which Hand responded to one of those proverbial gotcha’ moments:

NPR: You know one of our listeners heard our correspondent David Kestenbaum’s piece yesterday about this controversy and sent us an email saying that he had had his chart done some years ago and the position of Pluto led the astrologer to conclude that he would never marry. Therefore he wonders whether indeed that forecast might be rescinded based on the new status of Pluto, should it change.

Hand: Not necessary to rescind that forecast. It should never have been made. No planet is capable of indicating absolutely that a person can’t get married. All a planet can do is indicate what a person has to do in order to get married.

NPR: Ah ha!

Hand: And sometimes that requires so much work on the part of a person that they are not likely to do it. But it isn’t actually the planet that is preventing it, it’s the person’s own inclinations.

I consider a forecast like that to be malpractice [long 4 second pause; was Seigal stumped?] And I have a lot of company.

NPR: Well Mr. Hand, thank you very much for talking with us.

Hand: You’re welcome. (listen to the full interview here)

Yes it is true that Hand has a lot of company in this respect, but it is also true that there are many practitioners (as well as many people who consult astrologers) who do believe that the placement of Pluto, or Saturn for that matter in–say the 7th house of a natal chart– is indicative of the situation described by Seigal. And that it is the astrologer’s job to so inform the client.