Interview with 19 Astrologers – Future of Astrology April 1, 1986


Our interviewer is Michael Erlewine


Future of Astrology

The State of Astrology: Where Are We Headed?

Nineteen well-known astrologers share their candid views on astrology in 1986 – where we are and what's in store.

This question of what's in store for astrology was asked of some of the top U.S. astrologers by Michael Erlewine in the spring of 1986. Here are their thoughts:


John Townley:I'd say that astrology has come to pretty much of a dead halt. I don't think it is going to go anywhere until it gets back to the level of establishing for itself a general field theory – a base on which it is all based. What we're dealing with is selected and often sporadic and erratic phenomena that work often enough to make it stimulating and make us know that there is something there. But there is no concrete or theoretical basis as there is for any other science. Until we have that, we are going to keep going around making the wrong experiments. We are trying to experiment testing different…doing the Vernon Clark experiment over and over again. It gets worse each time they do it. And so on…trying to make it match the MMPI and things like that. Of course, it's never going to match anything like that. The reason is that since we don't really know what we are testing, we're going to fail every time we try to test it. We are trying to test it by other criterion than actually apply to it.

I would say that most of the accusers of astrology are probably correct. They think that astrologers are 100% charlatans, but I would bring it down to 90%. Not necessarily even intentional charlatans. But for the same failing. They are suffering from the same failing. Maybe 50% of the people out there are deliberately selling hokum straight ahead. There is a certain respect that I have for that. I have done that myself in other fields. But the rest of them are frequently selling it under the guise of psychology or counseling, or many other things that astrology may be a part of, but are not fundamentally astrology at all. Because they don't really understand…


Axel Harvey:As far as a prediction of where it is headed, I think that astrology is in one of those stormy situations where no one can tell where it's going to land. I think that the astrologers that are doing serious work just have to keep doing it and not mind a lot of the trendy bullshit that's going on – a lot of bad astrology that is getting published, getting publicized. That's all right; it always has been that way. The other end of the debate is the science vs. astrology problem. What I'm doing is simply refusing to see that there is a problem.

Astrology has got its own rules, and it has got to go ahead and develop according to its own rules. It is just cutting off one's nose to spite one' face if we always take a defensive and angry position about science. I think we have to keep working on and refining our theories, get more facts, and keep on working. I think it's a lonely thing. It isn't going to make any headlines or anything.


Barbara Sommerfield:My response is twofold, both positive and negative. On the positive side I'm excited and thrilled, and very, very inspired with all the new work that is being done with computer technology, and what this opens up not only in terms of research, but in personal work with people. The whole end is on the rise, obviously. And the advent of personal home computers brings this within the reach of most astrologers.

On the negative, I think the general overall quality has plummeted. Ten or fifteen years ago the level of expertise that was necessary, that one had to live up to before you would go out and lecture and begin to see clients, would be compared to Charles Jayne or Rudhyar or Marc Edmund Jones. A person had fifteen or twenty years of experience on them before they were out there calling themselves experts. Today, there seems to have been a tremendous popularization and almost anybody can go out there, with or without a background, and push their wares. As a result, I think there's been a lowering of the quality of what's available.


Gary Duncan:OK, well I think in general we're in a very sorry state. The problem is that while astrologers in general voice their desire for research, they do not follow that up with any real support. In the period of time that I have been active in professional astrology, which is nearly 36 years, I have only found eight persons who at least took the trouble to write me a letter to volunteer their services. Of those, only four people have actually done any work – I can now add a fifth this past year. That doesn't speak well for the whole astrological community. We need qualified people to head the projects on research work.


Mark Lerner:Well, I think in general I have some good things to say and some bad things to say. I do agree with some thoughts that Barry Lynes often has, in that I think that astrologers need to come out of the woodwork, come out of the personal dimension to an extent, and start applying their training to issues that are more life-threatening to the planet. I am talking about ecology, and some of the things in that area.

Of course, the spiritual direction, which I have focused on for a long time, needs more experimenting…, exploring the esoteric dimension.

The worst thing in the world – sometimes I see it in the Mercury Hour, sometimes with AFAN and AFA – is all this bickering. It would work if there was some quick resolution of it. But for a long time it seemed as if that was a kind of stalemate. I've heard rumors to the effect that people are beginning to come together a little bit more…to work on the positive.


Ken Gillman:This is a very important question. Lots of thoughts come into my mind when you ask it. A big one comes through under commercialism; a lot of people are making money off astrology. Astrologers making money off the public. In the sense that there are too many books being published which are not saying anything new. Lots of things like that, which is not necessarily a bad thing, but I don't think its advancing astrology. Astrology is very active at this time, but I don't see too many signs of advancement of knowledge.

People can concentrate in one case, on the interpretation of the chart. It does mean that some techniques in the past that people didn't dare do, such as primary directions, are now easily available. In my own field, research, it is terribly exciting. Some bloke has just got a file of 47,000 birth dates which I can analyze two, three, four ways, as it were, after dinner. The computer is an enormous aid. That has to improve a level of astrology.


Jeff Jawer:I think that we as astrologers reflect a general state of alienation in our society. When neither religion nor science fulfills individuals' needs, we astrologers find ourselves being incomplete religionists and incomplete scientists. I feel that to heal the planet, and for astrology to heal itself, involves a reintegration of the sacred and the scientific. However, I don't see astrologers as being separate from the society in which they live. So that we are not necessarily leading the ride, but we are along on it. So we are part of the cultural problem of integrating the technological and the sacred. I think one way in which astrology particularly can contribute to the reintegration of the sacred and the technological is to return to our roots, which really integrated both of these elements. We have to go pre-Greek, when astrology was not about defining individuals as unique and separate beings, but as reminding individuals that they were part of a community and part of a collective process.

I think we represent the future of the society. In a sense, astrology, as one of the original sciences, became overly crystallized and separated. And I think we're not accepted by the society because somehow we are a harbinger of the direction of our whole technological society. We frighten them, because our past is their future.

I think I caught on about six months ago that the reason science hates us is that we represent their future. That just as we became overly specialized, crystallized, and dropped out of the mainstream, so will every individual science.


Leyla Rudhyar:I see a lot of really hopeful signs. I feel very positive about it. One of the things is what I hear about AFAN. My involvement is small, but I have the feeling that as a group and as a community, we are maturing, becoming more tolerant of different points of view. We still have a lot on the personality level to work out, to be able to deal with one another more respectfully, and less on a personality level, but I think we are moving in that direction. In terms of the general public, I don't think astrology is growing as far as general widespread popularity is concerned. I don't think it's necessary at this point. I think things run in cycles. This is one of those cycles where we are consolidating. The interest on the part of the general public…I think people who are interested are more serious than in the past – more considered.


Barry Lynes:I believe that given the American psyche, and the western culture's focus on science, astrology has got to be brought into the mainstream through a scientific process. There is too much emphasis on technical studies and mythology and that sort of thing. Astrology has to combat the narrow minded scientific view that considers it superstition. And at the same time they have to validate the science of astrology through a scientific process.

For the most part, with the exception of what you are doing or what Michelson is doing, or the few other people, aware of the larger patterns that transcend our culture but at the same time have a scientific basis, I don't find much in the general astrological culture that is anything other than a waste of time. If we stay on that path we'll still be nowhere in 20 years.

I think the scientific process is the approach. I think that the foundations for the validation of our science will be found in the works of Carl Jung, who established an empirical basis for the unconscious, an empirical basis for psychology, and it is from the very solid groundwork that he put down that I think astrology will be scientifically validated. But that means that you have to use rigid scientific testing the way he did. You can take a hypothesis, as mystical as you like, or as mythological as you like – as long as you use a standard scientific approach and double blind studies, you can determine truth from it. That is the road we have to look at very clearly. I don't think statistics is going to lead to anywhere but a dead end.


Barbara Schermer:I think that astrology is split into two major areas: people that are humanistically oriented. People that are more interested in the technique of astrology versus the psyche itself- developing astrology as a field for exploration of the unconscious. So I see us at a point…It is kind of like the left brain having to honor the right brain, and vice versa. We need to start coming together and incorporating not only left brain approaches to astrology, but right brain as well. Using astrodrama experiential images…in other words, develop a full approach to astrology in the future, because it is something that is needed in our changing and intense environment.

I think astrology is in danger of becoming very dry, very abstract, and very theoretical. We are losing its life blood, losing its wetness or its juiciness. Instead of moving further and further out from the center, we should be trying to penetrate down into the chart.


Cape McCutcheon:First of all, I see more in my other field, which is psycho therapy, MS and PhD candidates, an increasing acceptance and openness to astrology. That not exactly legitimizes it within the higher educational department hierarchy, but I certainly do see among individuals a receptivity and an openness to it. I must say that among astrologers, I feel that they are not open to studying psychotherapy. I think that is very justifiable, since astrologers have been ridiculed for so long that you had to be an especially Uranian kind of person to be willing to put up with the opprobrium that came with being an astrologer.


Mary Downing:I think that astrology's become much too focused on the psychological element in natal chart interpretation. This is a small factor in the entire astrological principle. It seems to be running away with the entire field at this time. I think humanism has made its point and gone a little too far. I think the way science is moving at the present time…Certain ideas that are coming out of the scientific community indicate that the mass mind is now looking at the true physical interaction of cycles in the world we live in. I think that there is a need to study strictly mundane reactions on a cyclical level. I think that we have the tools, particularly computers, to analyze large amounts of data. I think there's enough evidence to indicate recurrent cycles in both biology and economics, so we could do very decent work and come out with some real ideas, and some real data to show what it is that we are actually dealing with. I think our major problem has always been that we have a collection of tools and we don't know why they work. I think that we are at the beginning of an era when we can find out what the underlying mechanism of astrology really is.


Maria Jossick:Although it is getting into a really sticky situation, about which there is a lot of disagreement, I feel that it's important to really be a part of the universities again. This would have to involve some sort of credentials. I think that we're moving slowly in this direction. I am not saying I dislike what is going on in astrology today. I think it's alive and healthy, and definitely making progress. Eventually, if we are going to become a profession, we have to have the credentials and the educational background that would be accepted by the general public. I don't think this will really come to pass until you can go to college and major in astrology.


Buz Meyers:I am really clear on that question. I think astrologers need to break out into the total wholistic community and break away from the incestual relationship they have with each other. They really need to let new thoughts and new ideas enter their community. Before they can become scientifically accepted, they need to accept the other metaphysical sciences. I think they have to start relating in those areas and in that way. I think we need to become the wholism that we keep teaching. We need to accept that in our own community.


Richard Nolle:In terms of the state of astrology, and I hope you have had comments like this, I think one of the biggest problems we have is a lack of what I would call professionalism among the practitioners. This extends to the whole predominance of Sun signs in the area. The way I look at it, Sun signs are our most successful product, and at the same time, they're a millstone for us. They're easy for the publishers and they're easy for the public, so it turns out that is what everyone associates with astrology among the public. In terms of professionalism among practitioners, we are all aware of how many laws there are in so many localities around the country that essentially associate astrology with gypsies, tramps and thieves. I think we tend to reinforce that image in the public's eye, to our own detriment.

We need to have a more positive image of ourselves and each other. A more cooperative kind of attitude. Let's face it, we're in trouble. In a very real sense, in terms of the culture in which we find ourselves, we are pariahs. If we don't hang together both within ourselves and amongst each other, it is certainly not going to get any better.


Tim Smith:I guess I'm not happy with the state of astrology in America today. I'd like to see more formalism in the conferences. I have experienced this at the Astrological Association conferences in England where papers have to be printed before they are presented. The lectures then become more a presentation and a defense or a discussion of the ideas that are presented. This is more the way most professions work. There doesn't seem to be any unanimously accepted point of interchange really established. None has emerged yet where professionals can interact with each other and not have to present a specific face to the public. I think that several organizations like AFAN and NCGR are working towards these goals. As far as my experiences at conferences in America, the primary reason I would go to a conference is to participate either on a panel or in the audience of the ACT (Astrological Conference on Techniques) seminars. That is a model that's appealing to me. I find that more there than anywhere else.

That is one issue, and the other issue is…I guess I would like to see a more differentiated and a more solid method of accreditation of astrologers. I think that you can't require all astrologers to be excellent in all fields.


Tom Brady:I think that the greatest weakness amongst astrologers in America is their narrowness of training. I think the best thing they can do for themselves as astrologers and for astrology is to broaden their experience in other forms of learning. I think astrology is at a point in time where it really has to begin to get sophisticated about what its mode of thinking is. I think that's already happening, as more and more people – younger people who have had full college educations and beyond – begin to get interested. It widens people's perceptions about how they are thinking and what they are thinking.


Noel Tyl:I think that American astrology is strongest in the world for its analytical thrust and its sensitive understanding of the human condition. I think that astrology in the United States is not a leader in the acuity of measurement and the research of measurement. Europe is ahead of us. But America is extremely well positioned in a global community now of sophisticated astrologers using computers, for research and case study testing, the likes of which have never been possible or conceivable before in history. I feel that we should take our enriched perspective of the human condition, fortify it within a framework of greater measurement sophistication, and test it and explore it as thoroughly and professionally as possible through our computer resources. In that way, we can be sure of our art and graceful with our science.


Robert Hand:I think the one tendency in astrology which is already being resisted vigorously in England is the tendency to seek legitimization at the expense of consistency in the astrological tradition. That is, astrologers are trying to look more and more like psychotherapists; some will even say you cannot even be a good astrologer unless you are a psychotherapist. I totally and violently disagree with that. Others seem to be using it as a device to avoid the opprobrium of being an astrologer where what we really ought to be doing is removing the opprobrium from being an astrologer-astrologically. This is going to require basically two things: One is a deeper degree of symbolic insight into the symbolism of astrology – looking at, but not borrowing heavily from other symbol systems. The other of course is real life scientific astrological research; which is being done. However, there's a general fear that it will invalidate the astrology we know. And it probably will, but I don't think it will invalidate the principle idea.

In America particularly, there's the tendency for astrology to retreat into a heavy dose of P.T. Barnum, heavy polysyllabic stuff that, if you really analyze it carefully, says almost nothing...



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