“I’ve been taking your classes for five solid years, and recently passed the Level Two NCGR training.” Jane told me, brushing her long brown hair off her forehead. She was sitting across from me in my bright cozy office. “How do I know when I’m ready to do readings for money?”
“I think you’re ready now” I said, “and I don’t need to look at your chart to know that.
Many people think that doing readings for money, or being a “professional astrologer” is a simple one-time decision. In my experience with training students over the last 27 years I see it differently. It’s an ongoing decision. It’s a decision you make it every time you sit down across from someone and exchange your ideas and insights for their money.
Learning from books and teachers are wonderful starting points for all students, but at some point your greatest teachers will be your clients. Being with another person and talking with them about their chart, asking them questions and listening to their answers not only teaches you how each planetary pattern works a bit differently for every individual, but how the ultimate understanding of the horoscope comes from watching it play out in another person’s life. Everything in astrology is an abstract concept until we see Uranus in a transiting opposition someone’s Venus along with an Eclipse to their Moon and our client tells us their best friend died suddenly last week.
People put off doing readings for money for many reasons, the fear of being wrong, the fear of being held responsible, and the fear of not knowing enough. I’d like to address these three.
Everyone makes mistakes. This is inevitable. I’ve made many mistakes as an astrologer, some of them serious enough to warrant refunding the person’s money. Giving someone a refund will almost always rectify what went wrong. A mistake doesn’t ruin your reputation if you treat each person fairly. Simply treat them the way in which you’d like to be treated. Each time someone has challenged me something I said, or how I said it, I’ve tried to learn from the situation.
Early in my career a Pisces woman came to me with multiple Saturn squares to her already stressed Virgo Moon. Because my mother died when I was a teenager I’d spent lots of time looking at my own chart and those of my siblings to try and understand that traumatic event. In my family Saturn transits played a large role. During my reading with the Pisces I mentioned her mother could get ill or have health problems. A year later she returned to tell me that her mother was fine, but she had never stopped worrying. I learned then to be very careful how I spoke about family member’s health and to present the range of possibilities each cycle brings.
Sometimes clients will blame you for not seeing an upcoming event, for steering them in the wrong direction, or for suggesting something that didn’t work. This needs to be addressed before the reading or while you’re setting up the appointment. The more clear the astrologer can be about what a client can expect, which usually is information, looking back at previous cycles, and then guidance, the less likely a client is to give you the power to make decisions for them. As we market ourselves and interact with potential clients, we need to be clear about what they hope to receive from our time together and the scope of what we can provide. Having a list of other professionals on hand, whether lawyers, therapists, or even other astrologers, is good business and builds the client’s trust.
I don’t think I will ever know everything there is to know about the planets, the signs, the houses, and the aspects. That’s part of what I love about astrology. We can keep learning and growing in this field for a lifetime. Not doing readings because you don’t know enough is an excuse, not a reason.
The simple advice I give my students is to practice chart interpretation first with people you know and trust. When that is comfortable, practice on people you know less well; friends of friends or people at work. Tell them that you are a student and you would like to practice on their charts. When that is comfortable, and you’re getting good feedback, you can start to charge for a session. Set your early fee at half of the going rate of professionals in your area. Charging too little undermines the professionalism of astrology. I always tell my students to add up all the time and money they’ve spent on books and classes as a way to realize that you are worth a decent fee.
Doing readings is just one of the ways that people practice astrology. But if you want to become a professional, getting the face-to-face experience with your clients will enrich both you and them. Please check out my Apprenticeship Program.