So, you’re having some difficult issues, and you think you might want to have your chart read? I will be the first to tell you how extremely helpful this can be. I had a tough situation with a love triangle a few years ago, and I found astrology so helpful that I began studying the discipline myself. While I’m not experienced enough yet to nail up a shingle outside my door: P.D. Reader, Astrologer, I do know enough to help you save time and money in finding a professional who’s right for you. For a reading that’s on point and can really help you untangle a difficult situation you’re facing, follow these steps:
1.) Think about whether you want to consult with a professional who practices Western astrology or Vedic astrology. The two systems are different. Western astrology (and this, I can vouch for) is said to provide a psychological profile of the individual and hints as to how the person may grow and avoid some trouble on his emotional journey through life. It will provide you with a hint or two about why you decided to incarnate into this life and what you're here to experience and to learn, but its main focus is to tell you what kind of childhood you had, what kind of person you are, and significant events you are likely to experience in this life. Current transits to your natal chart tell you what kind of time you are going through now and give you advice about how to handle it. Western astrology tends to assume that the heavens only describe your life; they do not rule or determine what happens to you.
Vedic astrology originated in India and purports to tell the individual mainly about their soul: What your purpose was in coming here and what your soul expects to gain from this life. Vedic astrologers tend to be deterministic; that is, they believe more so than Western astrologers that what’s in the heavens causes the events in your life. Often they will prescribe actions you should do to help a situation go more the way you would wish. I have been on internet boards with a lot of Vedic astrologers and found those boards had an almost superstitious feel to them, which may or may not appeal to you.
A third branch exists: Chinese astrology. I do not study Vedic or Chinese, only Western, so the rest of this article pertains to Western astrologers only.
2,) For each person in the reading, you will need an accurate birth time, date, and place. Astrology can be wildly inaccurate if the birth time is far off; the same goes for the date and place. You don’t want to spend money for a reading that may not be accurate, and your prospective astrologer should tell you this up front. If you don’t have a birth time, but want to know something anyway, try a computerized service on the internet and just know to take your results with a grain of salt. These websites can be uncannily accurate if you use a reputable one, and they are much cheaper. I plan to post an article on how to use these sites later on.
3.) Know that each professional has his or her own strengths and weaknesses. Before I began trying to learn on my own, I myself hired two, and I found them to be very different. The two readings varied quite widely in quality and usefulness. Some astrologers do a lot with relating aspects in your chart to decades in the past when those aspects were prominent in global events. I have not found this approach helpful, but some people do. If I am on the phone with an astrologer and I find them nattering on and on about the sixties rather than my life, I start to find that a little bizarre and not a bit helpful.
Other astrologers are what I call “the dogpile type.” This type of reader will find every little thing of significance in your chart and give you a thumbnail sketch of what each aspect commonly means. The astrologer I use, Alice Portman of Adelaide, Australia, is this type of astrologer, and I’ve found her readings to be extremely accurate. Some others will give you deep psychological profiles of what your aspects mean, which can also be very helpful. Liz Greene comes to mind as the best example here.
4.) If you hire a professional on the net, you will be spending a good bit of cash. Most pros who advertise on the net will charge you around $200 for a sixty- to ninety-minute reading, which is what you will need for a good thorough look at your chart, or for a decent comparison of your chart with another person's. Some of these people have read literally hundreds of charts a year for the past twenty years; they know what all the aspects mean the way you know what your office looks like.
Some of these people are downright flaky and more than a little woo-woo. You don't need to drop $200-$250 on one of these folks. Professional astrology organizations exist which train and certify astrologers, but be aware that just because a person is making their living in the field in an expensive area such as New York City, or has a certification after their name, doesn’t automatically make them legit.
A student or someone less experienced may charge less; but be aware they may be very good in the areas they've studied a lot, but miss information if an aspect is one they haven't read a lot about. Or they may take a lot longer to give the same quality reading a twenty-year veteran in the field can do in one hour.
5.) Ideally, if your prospective astrologer is a little woo-woo, you want to find that out before you ever hire them. How do you do that? Do it the same way I found Alice, by surfing around and reading blogs and articles. Before I found Alice, I had an unfortunate experience with an astrologer who told me I had six yods and a Thor’s Hammer in my chart, and that because the person I was involved with was “in my yod,” it meant the relationship would never work. That’s when I started to wonder what a “yod” was and began looking up information for myself. When I discovered it was highly unlikely that anyone would have six yods and a Thor’s Hammer, I suspected I’d been had. I looked up more articles on yods, found a very interesting one by Alice, and that's the one that convinced me she should look at my chart. I also found some articles by people who made me wonder if they might have been smoking crack. If you're uncomfortable reading someone's article, skip that professional and move on.
6.) As you surf around the net, reading what different astrologers write, concentrate on your specific issue. You can google something like "the astrology of relationship triangles" or "heartbreak astrology" and see what comes up, and go from there, for example. When you find a writer who seems to "get" your issue and whose style you like, there's a person you might consider hiring. Generally any article they write will point you to their website, which should tell you how to hire them, how payment arrangements are handled, and how much they charge.
7.) You should also evaluate their website while you are browsing around. I'm not saying a woo-woo website with a lot of stars and pentagrams and flying unicorns definitely means an astrologer can't really read and is just going to blow smoke; but I feel a lot safer with someone who's put up a businesslike website, myself.
8.) Check out the person's bio and see who that person has trained under. Names like Liz Greene, Robert Hand, Barbara Hand Clow, and Noel Tyl are famous names in astrology; anyone who's trained under someone well known is generally a good bet.
9.) If your community is large enough, you may have a New Age bookstore. Go there and browse the astrology section. If the staff is worth its salt, they should be able to tell you which astrology books are considered classics in the field, and which are the best for beginners. Note down the names of those authors. Anybody who mentions training under these people is probably a good bet. Pick up some of the books and leaf through them. If the writing style is accessible to you, they're writing about something you care about, and you find that the writing draws you in, explains something interesting to you, and makes you want to know more in just a few pages, jot down that person's name and look up their website. This may be someone you want to hire.
10.) Before you hire anyone, make sure the person is not biased in any way about your issue. The issue I originally consulted for involved a love triangle with a married man; that was the reading I discussed above, where I was told the person was “in my yod” and the relationship would never work. I was also told I’d meet someone else and be married again by October 2017! As I began to study and learn astrology myself, I saw the aspects for that date and began to suspect I would actually hear from my married man again at that time. When I hired Alice, she looked at our charts and said the same thing. This was exactly what happened. In class, my teacher and my more experienced classmates pulled my charts up and found more aspects than I had, indicating that this would happen.
Astrologer Number One looked at all the same data, but told me something wildly different. If I had believed her, I would not have looked at the charts any more, not have read articles, not have found Alice, not have learned any more about the situation, and been tempted to make a serious mistake when the guy appeared on the scene again. Since I didn’t buy what Astrologer Number One told me, I did my homework, and I knew by October not only what made the best course of action, but a whole lot more about why.
I later posted a blog about my unhappy experience, which found its way to Astrologer Number One’s facebook page. I lurked on her comments there and discovered why I had been so badly misled: This person had a married man experience in her twenties and wrote that she was very prejudiced against this situation and hated reading charts if an affair was involved! Keep this in mind, and, like a trial lawyer, dismiss your prospective astrologer from the jury if you ask and discover the person isn’t happy or comfortable reading your situation.
11.) See if the person has a specialty. For instance, when I encountered Alice's website, I knew she knew something about yods, and was probably the person for me. Medical astrology is a branch of Western astrology, although Chinese and Vedics may also specialize in medical questions; if you have a health issue, try to find a medical astrologer. That field is tricky and requires in-depth study to achieve real expertise. When in doubt, look for testimonials. See if the astrologer will give you references.
12.) Look for a website with a psychological tone and feel. I have never hired this person, but Hiroki Niizato's lovely professional website echoes so much of what I already know from all my reading about psychology and relationships that I know this guy would be a terrific fit for me. He has an archive about a mile long, and no matter what I click in it, what he's saying about psychology, relationships, and the growth of the personality is spot-on, whether I know anything about the astrological aspect he's relating it to or not. An astrologer with a website like this is always a good bet.
13.) If your town is large enough to have a New Age bookstore, chances are you have a few local astrologers who frequent there, offer readings there, or even teach there. This is a great opportunity to get an impression of someone in person before you plunk down any hard-earned Benjamins. If they offer astrology classes, attend one session just to hear the person lecture. You can get quite a sense in a one hour lecture whether the person is someone you might want to pay to read your chart. Some of these people write for local papers or magazines. Again, a way to check someone out prior to hiring them. Astrologers who only practice locally may be a lot cheaper than those who solicit clients on the internet.
14.) If you're asking a general question, like, "How significant is this person in my life?" or "Will I ever see him or her again?" a dogpile-type astrologer like Alice is a good bet for you; a person who knows how to pick out every little thing of interest. The interpretations you get may not be all that in depth, but every connection you have with that person will be discussed, so you get the most accurate opinion. If you're more concerned with what's affecting the outcome of a troubling situation, a Liz Greene-type astrologer, someone who will give you interpretations that are very in-depth and psychological in nature, is what you should look for.
15.) Pay attention to the tone the person uses with you. You should always be treated with dignity and respect.
16.) Lastly, and perhaps the most important thing I can say here: When receiving an astrology reading, the key thing to ask yourself is, Does this sound like me or not? And be very, very honest in your answer. Some of the aspects that came up in my research had ugly things to say about my character, and some interpretations of those contained some advice about what in my childhood was making me behave this way and that I really ought to investigate this possibility. These readings helped shape the psychotherapy I was in. I've made incredible breakthroughs I might never have otherwise without them, and without this affair that drove me to the astrology in the first place. Think of astrology not so much as a prediction, but as a tool to guide your growth, together with some warnings about what could happen should you not achieve that growth.