Image: a wonderful family that probably did not realize that they were enacting astrology, but you've got to love the face on that kid playing the role of Mars
Astrology is good information, but it’s hard to truly practice. And there’s been some good wondering lately on Twitter about what lies beyond astrological hot takes, and red-flag lists, and all the fearmongering astrologers do, either inadvertently, with good intentions–I am sure I have done this myself! Or more cynically, to feed social media algorithms that thrive on panic states. I’ve been listening and nodding in agreement with all this talk, and thinking through an alternative that relies less on creating informational content, and is more about helping folks develop an astrology practice. This is the first in a series of articles and other content that’s about shifting from consuming astrology information, and developing a more embodied practice.
If you want to shift from an informational relationship to astrology into a practice, a good first step is to stop worrying about where the Moon is every day or what big transits are coming this week. Instead, I propose focusing on one planet a year. Anybody with access to this handy annual profections calculator can figure out what their “ruler” or “lord” of the year is. And if that is too complicated for you, just email me your birth date, time, and location–I will tell you for free with zero obligation.
Annual profections are a powerful timing technique that can give you a lot of information. But that’s not necessary. You can also just find out what planet is exerting the most force on you this year, and decide every day to behave like the best possible version of that planet’s symbolism. Enacting your best version of your Lord of the Year is what I would call an “off-label” use of annual profections, but it works. The shift from a hard-driving Mars year to a grace-giving Jupiter year is not particularly difficult to feel. And working with that feeling–developing a relationship with it all year and letting it inform your decisions–teaches more about how to live an archetypal, symbolic life than astrological information ever will.
I like this approach to beginning an astrology practice for three reasons. First, it cuts through the complexity inherent to the topic and leaves you with one concrete thing to focus on–a planet. Planetary archetypes feed most of the symbolic meaning in astrology. They are behind the meanings of signs and aspects, and they can symbolize every single thing on earth. If you’re deeply learning the planets, you’re learning 60-65% of astrology. And if you’re learning them in an experiential, embodied way, and not as things to fear or as a list of red flags to avoid in other people… well, then you’re learning what astrology actually means! It means that we are all in this together, under one sky, with all seven of these archetypes moving through us. With us. In us. In ever-shifting, wonderful, mysterious ways.
Second, it shifts you away from anxious or fearful questioning about what will happen–because who isn’t afraid of the future at least some of the time? And it turns you toward cultivating a relationship with your experience here and now. This shift is meaningful and revealing. There will be more articles about how to work with that shift, because it’s nuanced. But it doesn’t take much study of the symbolism of one planet operating in your life to crack open a fuller, more self-compassionate sense of how the scariest parts of astrology–things like “good” and “bad” and “fate” and “free will” operate in your life. You start to develop a sense that there are things you cannot control. If you’re in a Mars year, there will be cutting, for example. But you also start to develop a feeling for all the things you can control. To some degree, you do get to decide what gets cut and how.
Developing this kind of discernment about what you can and cannot control, and the importance of making good decisions about your fate, or karma, in a loving way is the cornerstone of any spiritual practice, and ultimately it’s what astrology helps with most. Buddhists call this discernment things like “right thought,” “right speech,” and “right action,” but you can always just call it enacting your values, or doing what you believe in, or remembering that everything isn’t all about you. Whatever you call it, using astrology in this highly accountable way that leaves you on the hook for how you express the archetypes that are active in your life is likely to change you. Every decision to do what’s right instead of what’s easy matures a person. And every time you imagine or feel astrology as something that permeates your experience, even to the point of animating this mysterious unfolding of consciousness that we call “you,” you challenge this idea that you are a discrete, important “you” in the first place. Your participation in astrology has the potential to be incredibly meaningful, both at a personal and cultural level, and not because every single transit is going to transform you or be a manifesting opportunity, or be the worst thing that ever happened to you. We are living at the tail end of a white, patriarchal, modern experiment in radical individuality. Your participation in astrology can open the door to what lies beyond that cul-de-sac of the individual that we find ourselves in today. But only if you’re open to it.