Written by Adam Elenbaas
When I first started studying astrology about ten years ago, there was a saying that I first encountered and quickly embraced, and it went like this, “I’m absolutely not a fortune teller. In fact, astrology really isn’t about predicting the future at all.”
For a long time, this was an unexamined mantra that I was repeating, all the way up until I had my first horary astrology reading and simultaneously began studying the writing and ideas of the archetypal psychologist, James Hillman. After giving a talk on Chiron and Amazonian Shamanism to an NCGR group in Long Island, New York, I met a horary astrologer who challenged my claim that “real spiritual astrology” wasn’t about predicting the future. We traded consults with each other and I asked the question as to whether I would be able to afford purchasing my own home and supporting a family as a full-time astrologer. He accurately predicted the purchase of my home and the birth of a child and the marriage to my then girlfriend, and in fact he ended up officiating our wedding and eventually baptizing my daughter, because in addition to being an astrologer he is an Episcopal priest.
I was so fascinated with horary after he so accurately predicted these events that I began studying with him privately. In one of my first horary readings I successfully located a woman’s missing cell phone. “Where is my missing cell phone?” Answer: “It’s in your child’s possession.” Sure enough, the cell phone was in her daughter’s backpack. She found it within minutes because the horary reading jogged her memory and she recalled placing the phone in her daughter’s backpack while they were at the park the day before.
Locating a missing phone was a refreshingly different kind of astrological experience compared to the psychological approach I was used to, and it was something that compelled me to start questioning my assumptions about astrology, in particular the image of the fortune teller and this notion that astrology isn’t really about prediction. Was it possible that I was underestimating astrology? Interestingly, at the same time I was studying the psychological writings of James Hillman, who was a consummate defender of the most marginalized archetypal images and their relevance to the soul. Through his work, I began to explore my disdain for the image or “archetype” of the fortune-teller. Why was this commonly feminine and exotic image so disliked by so many of my modern astrological colleagues, including myself? Why did I want to distance myself from it? And similarly, what does the experience of prediction offer the soul? What is the archetype of prediction, or what is its psychological or spiritual value? The answers I’ve found are by no means final, but I hope that you’ll join me to hear about some of what I’ve learned and why I’m now trying to embrace the image of the fortune teller. The talk I’ll be giving for your local group I’ve entitled, “Reviving Lady Fortuna: The Importance of Prediction in Astrology.”
Similarly, my study of predictive/horary astrology led me into the investigation of much older forms of astrology, from both the medieval and Hellenistic/Greek eras, forcing me to examine other assumptions I had made about astrology. For example, I remember a man in New York City taking me out to dinner one night after attending a workshop I taught where I had suggested that the essential dignities were both outdated, prescriptive, and no longer valuable to us as astrologers. I remember how passionately, carefully, and kindly he tried to explain his take on the dignities to me that night and how I walked away with my nose secretly up in the air, thinking that he was simply clinging to the past like a purist.
What I couldn’t hear back then I now understand in the same way I’ve come to think about prediction differently. The dignities are a beautiful feature of the traditional language of astrology, but they are frequently misunderstood or misrepresented due to the language that often accompanies them. In the past several years, it’s therefore been part of my ongoing mission to find unique and accessible ways to teach my students the value of the dignities, and what I’ve discovered is that the language of the I Ching (an ancient Chinese classic and divination manual) and Taoist philosophy in general (something most people are very open to) provide a wonderful bridge between the ancient dignities and our modern mindset. On Saturday while I’m in town I’ll be giving a hands-on and participatory workshop called, “The Tao of the Dignities,” and if you attend then it’s my hope that you’ll come out of the experience with a fun and fresh way of accessing the meaning of the dignities in your everyday practice!
Adam Elenbaas is an astrologer, author, and yoga studio owner from the DC/metro area. Adam holds an MFA in creative writing and an MA in English, Language and Literature. His first book, “Fishers of Men: The Gospel of an Ayahuasca Vision Quest,” was published in 2010 by Tarcher/Penguin and Evolver books. Adam is one of the founding writers and contributing editors of RealitySandwich.com. You can learn more about Adam and read his daily horoscopes at www.nightlightastrology.com