A few hours before my wife delivered our daughter last week, I turned to our doula and said, "Can you get the time for me when the baby comes?" She said, "I'll do my best, yes!" Then, when the baby finally came, she turned to me and announced the time. For a moment I was dumbfounded. Why was she announcing the time? In the beauty and intensity of the moment, I had forgotten that I was an astrologer, that the heavens were turning in circles somewhere high above our midwives' birthing center in the hospital, and that my newborn daughter might be one rising sign or another, one Moon sign or another. It was honestly the last thing on my mind at that moment, and so it took me a second to compute what she was saying to me. "Oh, right," I said, laughing. "Thank you! Awesome."
The doula later asked me, "Are you excited to cast the chart?" I said, "Actually, no. I waited for a full year with Virginia to cast her chart, and I'm going to wait a full year with baby Summer, as well."
"Oh wow," she said, smiling. I didn't have to say or explain anything to her. At that moment, there was no explanation necessary. Stars come later, love comes first. Not just in the dumbfounded moment of literal birth, but as a practice, to come, for the next year, a full trip around the Sun before I want anything from the stars or my professional work as an astrologer to color my mind in relation to my daughter.
So why do I do this? Here are the notes and an overview of what I said in the recent talk I gave on the Astrology of Children, Parents and Parenting...
I wait to look at my own kids' charts because...
* The soul, not the body, is what is eternally real. To get to know the soul requires love and affection.
* The birth chart describes the temporary material designations of our karma and destiny in this body and this material world which we are temporarily inhabiting. It's not that the body or material world is bad or evil, and it's not that the birth chart can't give us useful information for understanding our lives, but the simple truth is that we are not our birth charts, and to really get to know someone you have to get to know the unspeakable, eternal nature of the soul, which the birth chart cannot reach. As Heraclitus once wrote, "The soul is explored forever, to a depth beyond report."
* At its worst, astrology MAY encourage us to see ourselves as our temporary material designations, "I'm a Leo, I'm a Cancer," or "I am my psychology, I am my fortune or material destiny in this lifetime, etc."
* A child coming into this world is already going to be inundated by the idea that what they are worth is based on what they produce, what they achieve, or what does or doesn't happen to them or around them, how one uses one's free will to create a good or bad outcome, etc. We are so rarely told that we are loved and can love just because we are (as Mr. Rogers liked to say!). Astrology, at it's worst, actually participates in all of this as it encourages us to get wrapped up in the "outcomes" of our lives, which are in turn wrapped up in our desires and expectations, fears and worries. In fact, ancient astrologers often titled their great works "Apotelesmatics," which meant "the study of outcomes." There are wonderful spiritual reasons for using astrology, but there are also many ways in which astrology can become just one more distraction to knowing ourselves, and knowing others, as we really are...divine, eternal, sentient, beings, part and parcel of our original, divine source.
* We can easily use the knowledge of a child's chart to justify the anxiety we have about our children, about their safety and well being, or about our own karma in relation to our children. But consider this...even though astrology CAN be very useful in helping us parent, or helping us heal family karmic patterns, the best and easiest remedy for any anxiety we feel in life, about ourselves, about our children, or our families, is love. Loving and being loved...just because we are, and just as we are. If astrology isn't paired with this insight, then it is as bankrupt as a gardener's knowledge without an actual garden or without rain.
* We need to stop using possessive pronouns so much with astrology, "My Venus, my mars, my sun, etc." Why? First of all, to ancient astrologers, this likely would have been an offense. The planets were thought of as the stars of the gods, or the gods themselves. Their positions reflect their judgments within a kind of cosmic courtroom...the stars at the time of our birth speak a kind of verdict about the life we are going to live this time around. We are not our stars any more than we are the gods themselves. Similarly, when we obsess over the charts of our children we reinforce the idea that they are "their Venus, their Jupiter, their Saturn," just like that. We planetize our children and then wish HARD that they rise to overcome or maximize the "potential" of the very things we have projected onto them...damned if you do, damned if you don't. If your kid can't overcome their stars, that's because they are getting "beat up" by that difficult Venus/Saturn situation, if they rise to great heights, it's because they are really OWNING that Zeus/Jupiter in the midheaven. All of this is hubris when we consider, once more, that we are loved and may love just because we are.
* So for these, and other reasons, I don't look at my kids' charts for the first year, to reinforce to me that to know this little soul is something far more grand and mysterious than knowing the ins and outs of their psychology, personality, or material destiny. All of these things will come in time...maybe sooner than I'd like, but for now, don't want to know, don't care, I want to love my child just because they are.
* Okay, so those are the reasons why I DON'T look at my kids' charts for the first year. But eventually I DO look at their charts, and I do find value in astrology, and value in astrology for children, so how do I understand the value of astrology as a parent? When I finally look at my kids' charts, what do I learn and what am I looking for?
* I look for their inherent personality traits, gifts, talents, and natural interests or dispositions so that I can try to support them the best I can...first and foremost by understanding the personality "suit" they are wearing as a spirit/soul. I will try to fix less and allow so much more to just BE when I have some insight into the personality, temperament, and constitution of my kids. So astrology can be very useful in this regard. If I know my daughter's ascendant ruler is in the 5th house in an earth sign and I notice she takes an interest in technical/artistic/performative skills, I can easily support those interests rather than projecting my own interests onto her!
* I look for stressful transits so that I can be prepared when I know my kids might be struggling with something. For example, last year my daughter had Saturn on her Sun and struggled with constipation. The astrology of Saturn on the Sun easily described the situation: bearing down, blocked, frustrated, struggling with control issues, etc. AS much as my wife and I did all the "things" one should do, I also inherently trusted that when Saturn moved off her Sun things might lighten up again, and sure enough, they did. No medical intervention of any kind, however natural, did much good (as far as we could tell). One day, not long after Saturn got off her Sun, she just got "regular" again. So having some knowledge about stressful transits, as a parent, can help me prepare and can reduce my anxiety when dealing with my kids challenging seasons. For some, this approach may induce more anxiety than anything else, so it's not an approach I take with my clients unless they ask for it!
* I look to understand how my wife and I show up in our kids' lives. Maybe there are some things I can work on or change, maybe not, but by seeking to understand my role in my daughters'' lives, I am also committing myself to be reflective about my relationship to them as it grows and matures through the events of destiny.
* It's easy to obsess about family karma, family healing, childhood wounds, etc. I always remind myself that the purpose of doing this kind of work isn't to finally resolve something from the past...this isn't possible when considering the cyclic view of time that ancient astrologers had (material family drama's don't go away here, they only repeat through light and dark cycles!). The purpose of any kind of healing work is to get back to forgiveness, which is like the reflection of light on the waters of love.
* I also look to understand relationships with siblings. This can also be very useful, but it's also important not to form biases about conflicts that we can't fully understand from our current karmic position. We must ask ourselves, "Do I really even understand the nature of all of my own conflicts and relationships and why they are what they?" If we're honest, the answer is "no," so just because we see certain kinds of struggles in a child's birth chart doesn't mean we should try to prevent or tamper with anything. We sometimes need to be less "struggle averse," overall. Struggle in this material life is inevitable...HOW we struggle is what matters. Experiences of any kind become soulful, become conscious, and loving, when we stay awake for them. So, the question becomes, how can I take what I'm seeing in the birth chart and use it to help my child stay awake to love in the midst of their destiny path, WHATEVER their destiny might be?
* Finally, whatever knowledge of our children's charts we have, its useless knowledge unless we are also creating an environment of love that reinforces the simple fact: my sweet child...you are an unborn and undying eternal being; your true nature is blissful, loving, and intelligent.
Prayer: Teach us to be as children in the arms our eternal source. Teach us to use the stars as lamps, lighting our paths, and always leading us home.