The Ethics of Astrology
by Pat Geisler
Is there a code of ethics for the astrologer? Of course. In fact, there are several.
Do you have to follow any of them? No. But if you don't follow some sort of ethical code, you will self-destruct, or your practice will.
The first rule for the astrologer who offers professional services is privacy: What the client tells you in confidence is confidential.
That sounds simple, but a lot of people tend to blurt out bits and pieces of what they know if they don't take active steps to remind themselves continually that this matter is not public information.
Every one has the right to the privacy of their own birth data if they wish. Always ask the client if you may use their data (for a classroom illustration, perhaps, or a lecture topic). Don't put their name on the data if you do and make sure some details of their lives are obscured to protect them.
Granted, if you are using data of a public person such as Madonna or Bill Clinton you don't need to be so picky, but private people have a right to be private.
U.S. courts have ruled on several occasions that newspapers, for instance, can print almost any information and criticism of public figures but private individuals are another matter altogether. The same rules do not apply to them and woe betide one who holds a private person up to ridicule.
Does this mean that you as an astrologer can never discuss what you have learned? I don't think so, at all.
Most astrologers know that Gemini rules things that come in twos. Some may know that Pisces deals with things that come in threes. I once had a client with Venus in Pisces and she had three functioning kidneys. Venus, of course, rules the kidneys. This was a wonderful bit of evidentiary material which I have shared with other astrologers and astrology students on several occasions. Telling that does not violate privacy, I believe, but I certainly would never identify her or use her birth data or full chart without her permission.
The second rule -or perhaps it should be the first rule-is the golden rule: Treat a client the way you want to be treated.
It sounds simple and it is. But in practice, we sometimes need to assess where we are on this one.
Many times parents want the charts of their children analyzed. This is a fair request. However, adult children have a right to their own privacy. Even teenagers should not have information from their charts revealed in ways that would violate that right. Analyzing personality is one thing, discussing sex lives, for instance, is another.
Don't ever give anyone information they are not entitled to that you see in the birth chart. Just because you see it doesn't mean you have to say it.
If you question whether an information request is valid, ask yourself how you would take it if your mother or father or whoever asked it about you.
Sometimes, in the case of parents, you walk a fine line. Sorry, but it goes with the territory. If the parent already knows the child is gay, for instance, and they want to know if that child will ever find lasting happiness with a partner, it's a loving concern and a legitimate question, to my mind.
But don't break the gay news to parents. It's not your role.
If the child is handicapped and/or disabled, the parent may ask more probing questions and that's only to be expected. They have a vested interest in knowing whether their child will be self-supporting, or whether custodial care might be needed.
One grandmother I know hesitated to tell her son that she thought his child needed psychiatric care. I looked at the child's chart and encouraged her to speak up because I told her it appeared the father was not seeing the problem clearly.
We should always see our role as fostering understanding and helping people make good decisions for themselves. We should be careful not to try to sell our own point of view, however, but rather to offer information and provide an objective sounding board.
Sometimes that means being a listener. Not every client wants or needs a full reading. Sometimes they want hand-holding and just to unburden themselves. It's a valid need and we may be exactly right to serve that. It is not unethical to charge the full rate, even though we haven't forecast a thing.
One of our greatest roles is peace maker.
As astrologers we can see both sides of a conflict between two people and often help them to grasp what is preventing harmony between them. We should never adopt any adversarial stance when we read a chart, however.
We are not on anyone's "side." It is not, therefore, a conflict of interest to be an astrologer serving both husband and wife who are not getting along.
On the contrary, we may be the only one who can help them see the other point of view. By holding up a "mirror" so they can recognize themselves, we may help clients see what their needs are and how best to deal with their own lives.
But lest we delude ourselves with self-importance, convinced that astrology bestows godlike power or insight, I must mention referrals.
Many cases that land on astrologers' laps don't belong there. The client obviously-and sometimes desperately-needs to see an attorney, or a physician, or a psychiatrist or a marriage counselor. If you are truly doing your job, you will send them there.
And don't meddle with the situation after that if you do. I once had a very ill client whom I convinced to see a doctor. He promptly put her in the hospital for tests before doing surgery on the cancer that threatened her life. While she was in the hospital she called me to check on whether it was a good day for a particular test.
I refused to say. I told her she was in the doctor's hands and she should do what the doctor said. I am not medically trained, the case was out of my hands and I absolutely will not get in the middle between a patient or client and the professional being consulted.
And this brings up another important principle: understand your limitations. If you don't know anything about investing, don't give investment advice. Every astrologer does not know everything. There are astrologers who specialize in the market. Use them. I sent a client of mine to one last year. I hope she helped him. It is perfectly all right to tell the client, "I don't know." Another thing it is all right to say is, "I'm not sure."
Tell the truth. Sometimes it might be easier to give a client a well-buttered platitude, but you are not doing your job. One young woman I read for many years ago badgered me and badgered me trying to get me to forecast that the man she was interested in would reciprocate. He was married, and I had to tell her she hadn't a prayer. Years later (20, perhaps) she told me the reason she kept coming back to me was that I rarely told her what she wanted to hear but that she could always count on me for the truth.
Use tact in what you say. A wise man once told me you could tell people absolutely anything if you knew how to do it. He was right. If you don't know how, take a course in communications, or counseling.
Honesty is always the best thing to bring to the relationship you have with a client. I can see if a husband is ill in the wife's chart. I can't always tell her what he's ill with. I may have to say, "I don't know." This is her chart, not his. When you explain it, people understand quite well.
One time a client was upset with me because her husband died the day after I had done a reading of her chart and she felt I hadn't warned her about it. I had told her there was a health problem and suggested she urge him to get a physical check up. All I could say to her later was that I was sorry my suggestion came too late. I don't run the universe, I simply try to help people make sense of it.
Read conservatively. If something is shown in a chart in three different ways, you can feel confident about a forecast. But things are seldom as good or as bad as you think they will be. Give yourself some leeway.
Try to avoid situations where your reading may be compromised. It's very hard to be detached about your own children's lives, sometimes. Send your child to an astrologer you trust for career help if you realize you are looking through rose-colored glasses every time you pick up his chart.
The same principle may apply to other relatives and sometimes close friends. If you can't be objective, say so. Sometimes you have to give yourself a good boot in the rear end when you fail to understand your limitations.
The Hippocratic rule physicians follow is a good one for all astrologers to follow: First, do no harm. Help if you can. Hands off if you can't. This seems so common sense we should all realize it, but many times we wade in on someone's life without sufficient forethought.
Prepare thoroughly for each reading. Do the best work you know how to do. It is perfectly acceptable, however, to limit the number of techniques you apply to each client's chart.
Back in the pre-computer days, I spent many hours on the mathematics of each chart, double checking constantly. Now preparation time is much faster and we can use more tools, but we do not necessarily see more. Try not to get lost in the details. Stick to reliable techniques and perfect them.
Before you read for any person, take a few moments for meditation or prayer. If you do not wish to call it prayer, call it centering yourself, or whatever you like, but take those moments for quiet, reflective preparation.
Don't try to overload the client with information during each reading. There are many times in life when leaving things out of the reading means that more currently relevant things will fit into it. If you haven't discussed every house in the chart, perhaps it is because you were doing a few of them more intensely.
Do this with confidence. Trust yourself. Follow your instincts. Listen to what the client needs.
Of course, sometimes you will be flat out wrong. Admit it. Baseball players get paid big bucks for hitting balls less than a third of the time. Astrologers with 90 percent batting averages should be worth millions, right?
Sometimes you will fail. Forgive yourself. Try harder next time.
Sometimes you will be criticized. Listen carefully. Your enemies will tell you more important things you need to know than your friends ever will.
Charge a fair price. Don't undervalue what you have to give. You worked hard to learn to be an astrologer. Establish your fees and stick to them. Charge when clients call during the year seeking additional information. If you include such calls-or one of them, perhaps-as part of your annual service, make that clear in the beginning.
If a client becomes a friend, make sure the friendship is not simply a camouflaged way to get free information. If in doubt, stop talking astrology with them and see how well the friendship does.
It is not unethical to avoid being used. If a client is taking advantage of your good will and demanding increasing amounts of time, increase your fees.
Establish private time. Make sure regular clients who call frequently understand that you don't work on Sundays, for instance. If you have a client so self-centered they constantly intrude on your life over a long period of time (not simply during a crisis), ask yourself if their business is worth it. Listen to your answer.
Don't allow clients to become too dependent. Some people are born leaners. You are not being a good astrologer to allow it. You may have to cut them loose, even if you lose some income.
Don't operate in a vacuum. Talk to other astrologers. Find one you can confide in who will talk honestly with you.
Continue to study. Grow in your knowledge. Learn new techniques. Add to your library. Stretch yourself. Do the best you can to be a better astrologer year by year.
A word about money. Keep good records. Pay your taxes. Don't play "under the table money" games. Hold your head up. If a disgruntled client starts trouble for you, your hands will be clean. Remember, this is your livelihood, not a hobby. Treat it respectfully.
If you are an astrologer, treasure the name and carry it with dignity. Give astrology the best you can. You have some of the knowledge of the universe in your hands. Hold it with great care. It is a trust.
Share what you know. Teach others who ask, help the beginners, counsel those who want to follow in your footsteps. This is your gift to the world.
( Copyright 1999 Pat Geisler )