Learning Astrology a student’s insights
Firstly I want to be clear that the below views and opinions are ones that I have gathered through my own personal experiences and witnessing others over the last 6 years or so of Study. I can only speak for myself but to define the actual moment I decided to take Astrology seriously as a student is difficult to pinpoint. There was a process of enlightenment that leads to the realisation of how grand it really has the potential to be. And in that enlightenment, there is your first spark of true understanding. This for me lead to needing to know more but as I quickly realised, it was so vast a subject it soon became overwhelming. This is an important moment for anyone that finds themselves in this situation. It's at this point you need to take a breath and relax for Astrology is a lifelong study and all Astrologers are students. What is important is to break things down into the initial building blocks of study. Like setting any good plan you need to look at some small short term goals of understanding before getting into anything serious. These consist of basic building blocks of Astrology that I would suggest you look at first before studying with anyone or if self studying before getting into something more complex. Now this is not because a teacher won't go over these things its because If you go in with a bit of an understanding already like knowing how to draw and recognise Saturn or Aquarius's Glyph and knowing what a teacher means when they say a Square or the midheaven then you will be able to absorb other things more easily and be a little more comfortable in the learning process. Paul Kelly sang from little things big things grow, I can vouch for that theory. If you break it down into mastering small things one at a time your persistence will be greatly rewarded. I would suggest gaining a basic understanding of the below groups first.
Planet, Sign & Ptolemaic Aspect Glyphs
In my mind, the glyphs are a fun and easy way to start learning Astrology they are like learning the letters of the alphabet and without them, you are lost. I plan on writing a future blog outlining in depth about all the major and minor astrological glyphs.
The Elements, Modes & Polarity's
This is the single most important thing you should learn when starting out. Astrology has so many combinations its impossible to just remember everything. Signs like aspects have a mechanical formula, understanding the formula makes it easy to understand the signs and the aspects they make to each other so you need to remember the mechanics of the elements, modes and polarity's. This means you won't have to memorise so much Uranus rules Astrology it also rules mechanical concepts. Memorise the formula and apply it rather than your memory this will give you a richer understanding as well early on and long into the future.
Chart Angles & Houses
A basic understanding of the four primary angles and the house divisions derived from them are vital. Firstly recognising there are many house divisions and knowing the names and be able to recognise the main ones in use today. And have an understanding of the various name's and meanings of the four chart angles or points of the chart.
Basic Astrology Terminology
There are a lot of Astrological terms some having the same or similar meaning as others, some modern some ancient. It is helpful early on to go thru these terms much like learning the glyphs it will help you understand the language and others Astrologers more easily. If you learn these early on it will make things far less confusing, as many of them sound strange or complicated but they aren't or have the same meaning as others knowing this will also take away confusion. I plan on writing a blog on these later also.
The single most important thing I feel I need to pass on to anyone who reads this blog is the following. Remain open to as many forms of Astrology, and as many different views and concepts as possible. Avoid one mentor's view as gospel and develop your own over time. If you want to create the richest possible experience in practising Astrology then this is truly the key in my opinion. As there are many different formats and ways you can now learn Astrology. I am going to list a few of them and give some pros and cons for you to think about, remembering these are from my personal experiences and depending on your learning style you may have different experiences.
Self study is obviously where many start out and it has benefits such as maximum flexibility in pace and direction of learning. I believe it also helps your intuitive ability to read a chart as there is less rigidity to it. However, the issue is you may spend a lot of time looking for answers in the wrong places or you may start using sources that are bogus or of low quality without realising. In hindsight, I feel I studied alone far too long (3 years) at first, this method for me is best used after some initial study or in unison with direction from a credible teacher.
Correspondence is not as popular as it once was since the development of online webinars and meetings. Although we now have email and video formats rather than post so it is still a feasible format. The benefit for me again is flexibility as you study when it suits you. There is a little less pressure than a live class so would suit the more introverted person, and someone who is driven because self motivation is required and the ability to work alone with good time management.
Live webinars are great because they have an interactive element to them. And you can usually focus on a specific topic you have interest in. However, if you're in the southern hemisphere as is the case with myself, many but not all are on at very inconvenient times. Often you can get a recording to watch when it suits you but you lose the interactivity of the webinar.
Learning with an astrology school has a few advantages, multiple teachers while having one format to follow gives great direction and structure to the learning process. And as above being influenced by multiple teachers from a different genre of Astrology is very beneficial to find where you truly fit into the community in style and philosophy you want to follow. Schools also offer certificate programs that are recognised throughout the Astrological community. On the downside, the curriculum may not always suit your philosophy so you will need to do some research before committing. They will generally have fixed times for classes so be aware of this and set time frames to complete homework. Another plus is that you will receive plenty of motivation and support from classmates and teachers so if motivation and drive are issues for you then this could be the correct path.
Above I have mentioned I would suggest not to have a single teacher, I am not against having a single student-mentor relationship, however, I do feel this is best later in your studies. As in an Astrology school, many individual Astrology teachers but not all will have certificate courses or apprenticeship programs that are recognised in the astrological community. A benefit in some cases would be more personal attention to your work and bonding experience. However, the biggest benefit would come if you were deciding to mould yourself in the philosophical and applicational image of the astrologer in question.
I have found reading columns or horoscopes to be a help although only minor. At first, it may help in the identification of terminology and glyphs. Later on, reflecting on horoscopes you will see the methodology they have used to come to there conclusions, this in itself is useful much like watching a replay or a rewind of some well performed sporting feat you see how it was done.
Many Astrology associations have routine meetings this is helpful in finding like minded souls. Some associations give discounts to members on software, books, webinars or subscriptions etc.
I would strongly recommend joining one early on to get the greatest benefit from them. However, I won't mention them here as there are so many. They will keep you in contact with the astrological community at large and be a good source to answer questions that you can’t find the answers for. Some organisations also teach or do accreditations that are recognised globally.
I have only attended one and looked at and considered others, what I have found is they are a little expensive once you add up all the costs compared to say a course of study. So bang for your buck as far as learning I don’t believe there a good option. However, they do have other very important benefits such as networking with other astrologers and exchanging ideas. They are also very enjoyable and if you are a hard taskmaster in your studies then a retreat may well be a good option to avoid burn out while still absorbing knowledge.
YouTube, Facebook, social media
I have come to realise over time that social media platforms are the main form of disinformation regarding Astrology, now, of course, there are some useful groups and pages but they are outnumbered vastly by a lot of very ordinary ones. My advice for learning Astrology is to take nothing from them until you are good enough to realise the wheat from the chaff so to speak. The other thing is social media takes up a lot of time following various threads and you can get lost on a tangent that in the end is not relative to your development. So, however, fun they may be there not a good place to start and they can distract you from more prosperous work.
Podcasts have become more popular in the last few years and in learning Astrology, I have found them truly helpful in many ways. Conversations between Astrologers often bring up topics you haven't considered and are a good way to begin to understand Astrological terminology and references. They are also a good use of time management as you can listen while you drive or exercise. I haven't found many podcasts of low quality not saying they're not out there but the quality is generally high.
Well, books will always have a place and if you're serious you will need them for citation and reference. Personally, my collection is still expanding. The one thing I will say regarding authors is to know who your reading first there philosophy and techniques do they fit where you're headed. E-books and Kindle etc, I use both paperback and digital books they really both do have advantages. In using citation and referencing nothing beats a digital book when saving time and with the newer version of windows and the read aloud function I have found that having a book read to you first while multi tasking and then reading it later yourself allows it to really sink in on a much deeper level. While a paperback doesn't give you the above options they are easier to follow and read generally and you can have many bookmarked at once by your side.
While there are many other topics to reflect upon I believe this is a good time to finish. I hope my experiences may have been of some help to those of you that are just starting out on this wonderful journey of self enlightenment.
Astrology blog written by William Lamont Bellingen astrologer Australia on learning astrology a students insights.