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The Limited Astrological Palette

When I was in first grade and I opened my new box of crayons, I wanted to try every color, and I envied those kids from more affluent homes who had the really big boxes of crayons. However, after I became a serious artist I found that such an approach was not practical. I began using only those colors that worked best for my style of painting. In order to be a more effective painter, I had to limit the number or colors I put on my palette.

 You might say that today’s astrologers are like those kids who had the extra big boxes of crayons. We have an overwhelming number of tools available to us. Along with the ten bodies that are most commonly used (Sun, Moon, Mercury, Venus, Mars, Jupiter, Saturn, Uranus, Neptune and Pluto) we can fill our horoscopes with thousands of dwarf planets and asteroids. Through the use of Harmonics we can compute more aspects that Ptolemy could have ever imagined. Then there are midpoints,fixed stars and a whole bagful of different house systems. And we can bring in different types of astrology, such as traditional, sidereal or Vedic.

With all of these tools from which to chose, it’s not unusual to find astrologers who try to employ as many as possible. They might combine Vedic astrology with a Western psychological astrology, or use a couple of different house systems. They might use some of the asteroids and dwarf planets, like Chiron or Ceres, or even some of the icy rocks way out in the Kuiper Belt.

I’m not saying that there is anything wrong with this approach. I’m just as interested in hearing about new technique and new celestial bodies as anyone, and I often experiment with different tools and ideas. However, I typically go back to those few tools with which I am most familiar and that I find most reliable. I go back to my limited palette.

The disadvantage of using a limited astrological palette is that I have to sometimes admit that there are things I don’t know.  If some asks me a question about sidereal astrology or tertiary progressions I have to shrug my shoulders and say that I haven’t a clue. Also, there may be events in a person’s life that they regard as important that I can’t match with a corresponding astrological factor.

The advantage of a limited palette, on the other hand, is that I have absolute trust in the tools I do use. I’ve seen them work time and time again. I also understand more about the different ways in which they can work, and how different human beings might internalize and externalize their influence. I have a depth of knowledge regard to these tools that I could never achieve with something I learned yesterday in a seminar.

There is no “right” way to do astrology. Even after thousands of years of practice, we still don’t know enough about the universe or human consciousness to presume such a thing. Astrologers using completely different tools from the ones I use achieve remarkable results. But I think, at some point, every astrologer has to face the fact that he or she can’t know everything. We have to recognize that in order to be effective at what we do we have to focus on what works best for us. We have to limit our palette.


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