have tickets for Europe. Do you think I should fly?”
“We have the house in the country. Is it better to hang out
there with the kids until all of this blows over?”
“I read something on the internet about a Saturn something
with Pluto. How long does that go on for?”
“Am I gonna be okay?”
More and more, thanks to Saturn and Pluto, questions like these
are being put to astrologers. Even The Boston Globe recently did
an article on the boon of business to astrologers, psychics and
the like since the tragedy of 9/11. There’s been plenty on
the news, too, noting the increased use of Prozac, alcohol and cigarettes.
Maybe I’ve gotten more than my share of these questions, thanks
to the dynamics of my own 7th house, a steady clientele well before
9/11, and a long background in bereavement counseling. But if you
haven’t been faced with such questions yet, believe me, you
will be. And hopefully, you will also hear the question beneath
Far from being an expert in trauma counseling, and certainly with
so little time passed 9/11, and such a rapid barrage of events following
this great tragedy, I can’t offer a standard of astrological
counseling in the day and age of the Saturn-Pluto Opposition; but
I would like to share with you some counseling points from my own
practice. Some of them may be obvious and some of them may be considerations
which astrologers should have all of the time. But I offer them
in the hope that they will prepare you for your own clients’
needs and how astrology may (and may not) be of help to them.
I’ve become aware of several different categories of clients
since 9/11. First, there are those who have an established relationship
with me, and then, there are first-time clients. Even in that established
group, there are long-term clients who share a great familiarity
with me; and then, there are those on only their second or third
readings, which I consider to be relatively new. When you’re
counseling, take into account the degree of familiarity between
the client and you. It greatly alters the comfort level of the client
and yourself under such duress as this is these days.
Of course, that should automatically lead you to ask yourself “if
they are traumatized even to only a small degree, why are they seeing
an astrologer?” Are you a part of a team whose help they are
seeking? Or are you on your own in helping them? Also, find out
if this is a general reading, or is it related to issues that are
a direct result of 9/11.
There are categories, too, for the degree of intensity to the trauma
or reaction. I’ve noticed, for instance, that those who are
most personally effected by the tragedy, i.e., having lost an immediate
family member, are least likely to seek help from astrological counseling
unless there is a prior well-established relationship with the astrologer.
(That holds true in most grief experiences, not just the tragedy
of the World Trade Center.) For these people, the loss is so real
that it doesn’t require validation or guidance “from
the stars.” Despite the havoc around them, they are actually
centered in the crisis. They are very much “in the moment,”
and that is exactly where they should be. Prediction, which astrology
is so associated with (for better or worse), is of no use in this
Those people, however, who did not have such a personal loss, but
were in the immediate surroundings of the explosion, i.e., in the
towers and escaped, are tending to turn to astrology for some philosophical
understanding of what this means in their lives. This group of clients
has shared profound and very touching revelations in the wake of
their experiences. They are not so much looking for astrological
predictions or natal interpretations per se; but rather, they are
seeking some explanation of what happened and why they survived.
(Again, take into account for your effectiveness in the reading
the degree of familiarity, which this client has with you and what
the natal chart indicates.) This might be, and I emphasize the “might
be,” the case most likened to “survivor’s guilt.”
Finally, I’ve noticed the people who were most distant from
the event, i.e., had no personal losses or experiences with it,
but witnessed it only on TV, have the most unrealistic questions
and comments, in the effort of trying to make the tragedy real for
themselves. In my experience with this group so far, they also have
the most need to “tell their story.” Their fear is anxiety-based
and they seem to have the most anticipation of the unknown. Relatively
speaking, the events of 9/11 are least visceral for this group of
clients; and therefore, their reactions may be the most unfocused,
at least this point.
It is very important to consider how much time has passed from 9/11
to the date of your reading too. Time might heal everything ultimately,
but given the sudden developments of world events, i.e., anthrax
scares and the fall of the Taliban, the healing process can be altered
as well. For instance, this article is being submitted over Thanksgiving
weekend. Things have already rapidly changed in the counseling process
since 9/11, and they will probably change even more by the time
of its printing at the Capricorn Ingress. Counseling is always an
evolving process, but especially in the face of such critical times
It is mainly this last group of clients who is most likely to project
those all-too-human feelings of powerlessness onto the events and
perpetrators. They might be driven, too, by the sense of “I’m
too young to die,” so to speak; they are waking up to all
their unfinished business. They might also be prompted to take action
or make resolves in the wake of 9/11.
These are the people who have been saying, “Ever since September
11th, I know what my priorities are.” Some are staying with
the relationships that were bad, but resolving to make them better,
because now they know what is important to them. Some are leaving
relationships because now they also know what is important to them.
That can just as easily apply to careers, families, pets or whatever.
Hence, an appointment is made with the Great Oracle for some validation
and good timing. So, the Oracle had better be prepared with some
good counseling skills to help these clients understand their motivations
for change. They run the risk of doing the right thing for the wrong
On a practical level, what can be of great help to all of these
clients, especially this last category, which obviously constitutes
the largest number, is volunteer work. Being close to Ground Zero
or in its emotional proximity will help to make it more real for
them, and therefore, more easily processed by the psyche.
The astrologer should be ready to ask, how old is the client, really?
We’re all human, and no matter how much therapy we’ve
had, traumas and irrational fears can take any of us right back
to stuff of childhood in a split second.
Understanding the current transits and progressions will help explain
how any client is experiencing this tragedy. For instance, if Saturn
is passing through the client’s 9th house now, this might
be an indignation to his or her cultural and political beliefs.
If someone is steeped in a Pluto progression, this is a great opportunity
vent its rage. A hard Uranus transit might take this as a great
awakening and a call to arms, while something from Neptune might
be good reason to run and hide. A ’55 babyboomer, whose Jupiter
in Cancer was hit by last summer’s eclipse, said to me, “The
American flag never meant anything to me until now.”
However, what every client, young or old, new or old, on the frontlines
of the event or “as seen on TV,” seems to have is the
need to tell his or her story. Sometimes, it’s in a few poignant
words. Sometimes, it pervades the reading. At all times, though,
we just need to give each person the chance to say it. And it becomes
our job just to listen; thereby, helping to make it real. And if
we can listen with the ear of the Great Oracle that our clients
think we are (actually still knowing that we, too, are only human
with our own stories and foibles), then all the better for their
Also consider how the client’s past grief may be reactivated
by this present trauma. This connection may or may not be conscious,
but it might be fueling the emotionality or motivating current behavior
and decisions. The horoscope may give some indications on how to
work with it in a willing client.
Another consideration, although a less frequent instance, is the
client who actually feels better in such traumatic situations for
society. This client tends to be a chronically depressed personality
or someone who lives with a festering trauma from the past. Ironically,
social crisis of such magnitude can have a healing effect on such
a person. As one client put it to me, “Now, I feel understood
by the world. This frees me. Now, I can participate.”
Of course, we should be prepared to refer clients appropriately
to other professionals. This should always be part of an astrologer’s
job. For the kind of distress resulting from this tragedy, usually
hypnosis or EMDR (Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing
method) is most effective, especially in the immediate wake of it.
Acupuncture is excellent for those with heightened stress reactions.
Therefore, have ready a referral list of appropriate therapists
or other means of healing.
Sometimes, we are the client’s first and last source to such
Although many very good books on trauma, counseling techniques and
bereavement care have appeared in recent years, I always recommend
the basics: On
Death and Dying by Elizabeth Kubler-Ross is the textbook in
hospice and bereavement work. And Eugene Kennedy’s On
Becoming a Counselor is a must-read for all practicing astrologers
in any era.
During my years as a bereavement counselor, I was awestruck by a
consistent happening. The process of dying did not change anyone.
It only made them more of who they always were. Their caretakers,
however, did change. I believe as the survivors of this unspeakable
loss, we, too, have a great opportunity, no, a responsibility to
Actually, in looking back on the results of previous Saturn-Pluto
Oppositions, in fact, we have no choice, but to change. And as astrologers,
we have the additional privilege to participate in the process of
this change with our clients.