Astrology & the Yamas: Ahimsa

Astrology is a spiritual art. Astrology provides the framework for spiritual evolution for the astrologer and it provides the opportunity for the astrologer to show up as a spiritual guide for a client. This is true even if you are doing horary, financial or other non-psychological astrology, because all facets of life are indeed part of the spiritual path from a non-dual approach. In non-dual philosophy it is understood we are all spiritual beings living a physical existence and that everything we do is sacred.

In dual philosophy there is an underlying belief is that our human life is ‘less than’ and a perfect being or aspiration directs us. A non-dual approach leads us to absolute choice centered, empowering astrology. A dual approach leads us to the concept of preordained fate in our astrology. Most of us fall somewhere in between, understanding the chart as a roadmap of the soul’s path that guides and directs us along the lines of fate, and allows consciousness to determine choice within predetermined karmic patterns that are poised to come to fruition in this life.

As the Buddhists say, we are on a river; we can flow along the river we’re on, maybe meandering from side to side, but we can’t move to another river. (Unless we portage of course, carrying our heavy canoe to another river, a task too daunting for most). So we stay on our river, and astrology helps us navigate wisely.

How does this matter for ‘Enhancing Your Practice’?

I want to set the stage of astrology as spiritual practice as I write the upcoming columns. Yoga philosophy gives us a wonderful set of precepts called ‘Yamas’ and Niyamas’ that can be used as tools to deepen our personal spiritual practice of life, and can be applied to being an astrologer. Yamas translate to restraints and include nonviolence, truthfulness, nonstealing, nonexcess and nonpossessiveness. The Niyamas are observances and are more positively framed intentions (purity, contentment, self-discipline, self-study and surrender).

Ahimsa — ‘Nonviolence’

Of course, you say, you are not violent at all. A lighter translation of ahimsa might be non-harming. And even here you imagine you are not harming anyone. Let’s go deeper. Yamas are subtle.

For you, as an astrologer, how are you harming yourself? Are you eating well, taking care of your body, aware of your capacity to become stressed or overly busy? So often when we are in the serving/healing professions we give in excess to others and treat ourselves less than kindly. As an astrologer, our body and mind are our tools. Without physical health and mental clarity, we simply cannot do our work well. We are channels of information and insight gleaned from years of study, but also from the magic of the moment. If our physical health is impaired, our inner lens will be grey. We will not feel empathically nor see clearly.

Here’s an ahimsa checklist for you whether you are a professional astrologer or not. It’s always a good time to wonder if your choices are harming you or bringing you closer to your highest potential. There is no right answer or perfect choice; these are simply questions to contemplate honestly. On the physical level:

do you get enough sleep?

do you consider your body’s nutritional needs and follow your inner truth as much as possible, knowing that excess rigidity might also be harmful?

are you mindful of the effects of mind altering substances (including caffeine and sugar) on your body, mind and emotions, including how low, moderate or excess use affects (or perhaps doesn’t affect) your astrology practice?

do you exercise regularly?

do you find time to be in nature?

do you consider a healthy, balanced schedule for you? Balance is different for everyone and involves listening to your deepest intuition about your personal needs.

do you have healers you work with regularly to keep you in optimum shape, not just waiting to become sick?

On an emotional or mental level, we can benefit from looking at our inner dialog because how we talk to ourselves will leak out into how we think about and talk to others. In consulting sessions our language is extremely important. The empathy and compassion with which we think about our clients will be felt by them, affecting the healing potential of their experience, and also their likelihood to be returning clients. If you don’t like your client it’s important to contemplate why that is, and either heal that within yourself or choose to refer them to someone else.

Although normally it’s pretty easy for me to enjoy and care for my clients, I once had a client I found very annoying and hard to sit with. She was needy and in pain, and also very judgmental and critical, unable to hear anything I said without resistance. I know we’ve all known that person … and probably we’ve all been that person at least on occasion! I knew I had to do something to heal my own attitude, or refer her to someone else. When I sat with her chart and compared it to mine, and then to my mother’s chart, I could see very clearly how she was mirroring core issues. She was embodying the worst of my personality traits, and my mother’s, all wrapped into one person! Once I could see that my heart softened. I had to accept my ‘flaws’ and cultivate another level of forgiveness for my mom. I made a point of feeling love and compassion deliberately when I talked to her, and soon I developed true positive feelings toward her. She has remained my client for many years.

It takes inner work to be able to see ourselves clearly. You might ask yourself:

have you tamed your inner critic so that you may relax with your own humanness?

do you understand the concept of non-violent communication?

do you strive for empathy and compassion in all interactions, including simple tasks like booking appointments, obtaining initial details, and follow-up

are you aware of your blind spots, prejudices and personal fears that may affect your sessions?

do you have personal support network like a therapist, your own astrologer, deeply supportive friends?

Going Deeper … The Client Session

One of the underlying issues that might cause us to be subtly harmful to others is how we act when we feel powerless.  Additionally, as astrologers we are vulnerable to feeling ‘in power’ because we know so much about another person, and they often give their power to us.

Tell me about what’s going to happen to me’ they implore with the hope we’ll soften the blows and allay their fears. This is might give us a feeling of false power.

To be a good astrologer we need to cultivate a spiritual sense of personal power, drawing on who we really are, softening the tendency toward ego based power. In this way we can open clients’ eyes to seeing and feeling their own power. Here we might consider:

am I answering the client’s questions in a way that empowers them?

am I facing my own fears so that I do not impart fear in the reading? If we are overly fearful we will tend toward negative predictions. We might also worry excessively about our clients, finding ourselves enmeshed and stressed. It is helpful to understand the difference between ‘helping’ and ‘supporting’.

do you know how you’re going to handle it if the client asks hard questions, like when someone’s going to die, or when will they die themselves? When a client is deeply depressed how you can give them truth without harming them further? Do you know when to refer your client to an expert beyond your scope of training and experience?

are we able to listen empathically and not interject our personal stories and bias into the session excessively?

have we created a healing experience for the client in a serene uncluttered office, an easeful process of booking sessions and a professional yet inviting telephone demeanor?

As we explore ahimsa and its relevance to our professional practice, the possibilities are limitless. We can view our personal patterns with love and compassion, developing a gentle intention to clear old patterns and live our lives in accord with our highest intentions. This is not a one time exercise, it is a lifelong practice, woven together with astrology as an ongoing spiritual practice. This exploration is not an exercise in inner criticism. I cannot stress enough how important it is to view ourselves with compassion as we move through simply human experiences.

Through the exploration of astrology as a spiritual practice, and the meditation on ahimsa in all facets of our life, we discover that developing our own sense of spiritual and physical clarity, courage, love and empathy culminates in a professionalism that permeates through every aspect of our practice. An attitude of non-harming affects the way we do our analyses, our communication style and perhaps every detail in the way we conduct our astrology practice. This ongoing spiritual inquiry infuses our life with meaning and purpose, and makes us much better astrologers, no matter what style or brand of astrology we believe in.

with love & gratitude


First published in the OPA Journal (Organization for Professional Astrology) in the June 2015 issue for the column, 'Enhancing Your Professional Practice"