Everyone who’s consulted an astrologer knows exactly what they hope to hear. Whether your personal issue is career, health, love or finances, you want to be told that everything is going your way. Or at least that the planets in your chart are conducive to things going your way. Of course, that’s not always the case. A good reading will be complex because there are so many factors and relationships that must be dealt with in the chart.
But what does an astrologer feel as he or she sits down with a client? What are they hoping for? What should they do if a client unexpectedly becomes a mass of fear or collapses in tears? And is there a difference between what’s in a person’s chart and fate?
These are some of the questions posed to Tanda Tashjian, a respected astrologer in Los Angeles who’s practiced for over forty years. She is a deeply thoughtful, well-educated and resourceful woman with unusual credentials for her field. Bringing decades of learning about the self to every reading, she gives valuable insight on the role of the astrologer and describes how astrological principles affect our everyday lives.
Q. What do you think the purpose of astrology is?
A. I would say, for the individual to understand the relationship of their chart to themselves and to harmonize with cosmic energy or cosmic unity. The insights gained through astrology can help us find our place in the world and understand our relationship to our family, our environment and the greater world.
Q. As you talk to clients who come back on a regular basis, have you found that what you just described is what astrology does for most people?
A. It depends on what a person is looking for. Sometimes people are not looking to understand their role in the greater picture. They’re looking to get by in the present. I think the purpose of astrology first and foremost, in the most evolved sense, is to understand your place in the cosmic order and your path in life. If, in order to get to that place, you need to create a sense of confidence and survival and consistency either through career or how you live your life practically and emotionally, then that might come first. Astrology can be helpful with that as well. The most important thing, in my opinion, is to define one’s role and one’s path. And then, to let that unfold. But people who come to an astrologer might not agree with that. They might say, I need to know if I should go and study this or go and pursue this business thing.
Q. Well, that puts a big onus on you. They should ask for your insight as a tool, shouldn’t they, and then make their own decisions?
A. I agree with you. And I very seldom say, “Go do this.” That’s really not my thing.
Q. I’d expect an astrologer to ask what I’m hoping to do and then decide whether what they’re seeing is favorable. I wouldn’t want the astrologer to be making the decisions.
A. Right. I should serve your needs.
Q. I’ve met people who are convinced that astrology is silly, unscientific, hocus-pocus. What would you say to someone who seems out to prove astrology has no value?
A. For people who want to disprove something, I would say that in itself is a set-up. Where’s the good will there? Where’s the innocence? Astrology works best when the person can connect with their client and the client is sincere in what they want to know. And that sincerity helps you go very far.
Like the client says, “Help me, I need to know my path in life.” That to me is a very sincere question. And then I’d ask, “What kind of path are you talking about—the spiritual path, the professional path, your emotional life?” If the person says, “I really need to get closer to understanding what I’m here to do and be,” to me, that’s simple and sincere. And I think the astrologer can respond in a better way to that kind of question.
Q. I think many people who debunk astrology just look on the internet and see a general forecast which has little to do with anybody.
Q. And once in a while, it’ll say something that fits your life.
A. Right, right. Why would you want to debunk something? Just don’t bother with it then, if you don’t believe in it.
Q. As an astrologer looking at a person’s chart, what is that book you use?
A. The American Ephemeris compiled by Neil Michelson. It has the positions of the planets. Basically what you’re doing when you do a chart, without getting too complex, you have the birth chart, also called the natal chart and then you’re just mathematically relating it to the nearest points. It’s a little complicated. You have to visualize this in space and time.
Q. So that’s something any astrologer can do with the very minimal information of the birth date, the minute of birth and the location. I think this is where every astrologer is different—you each have your own knowledge of what these things mean and what each planet can do in specific situations. There are so many things you take into consideration. How do you go about interpreting the information? What’s your purpose as you analyze the data and come up with the conclusions that you do?
A. I would say it’s to serve the person, to give some perspective and understanding and really help improve the quality of their life. I think you want to use every occasion in life for learning. So what serves the person in learning at that moment is probably the best thing I can do for them. And to determine what that learning is.
Q. Do you find most people are basically trying to learn similar things?
A. Sometimes people are learning how to do their career better or deepen their relationship with their work. Other times people are learning about what is working in a relationship or what they have to overcome to be better related to that person. What I’m trying to do is help people understand themselves in their life and their environment. And sometimes just to try to predict the outcome, if this will or won’t work. In old time astrology that was a very important aspect. But it still is today. I won’t say it’s not part of what I do, but it’s not the main part of what I do.
Q. One person wants to hear about career, the next person has a love issue. With each of them, you’re looking for something different as you go through their charts. As you look at the moons, the eclipses, the planets and their location in a person’s chart, aren’t you taking that information and giving it a broad perspective as well as focusing it to see the relevancy? I don’t know what other astrologers do, but I’m trying to see how you get to the interpretations that you do.
A. It’s very complex. There are interpretations in textbooks: When Jupiter conjuncts the sun, this and this will happen. When you relate that to a person’s chart–where is their Jupiter, where is their sun, where are the rulerships, where are the houses, how do the aspects relate–you have to keep in mind all that information and then come out with something that makes sense. It’s not that astrology is a computer, but there is a feeding of all these bits of information into something and then seeing how it will relate and express itself. But then you have to allow for insight or perception or free association, something that gives you what all that is, beyond the mind. It’s everything cumulative that you’ve done to that moment–your studies, your meditation, your own process, your understanding of yourself—all of that. Everything you are is a vessel. And you put that in the service of your client.
Q. Do you like feedback on how accurate your conclusions and predictions turned out to be?
A. It can make you more self-conscious. When you’re reading, it is a peculiar blend of technique, textbook, how things are and your own kind of special sauce which is how you see or experience that. So it’s good to know how these things pan out and I’m always interested to hear, but I don’t really want to know. It’s better for me not to know everything.
Q. As an astrologer looking at a person’s chart, how much of this is intuition on your part?
A. It’s a good question and it’s something I’ve actually wondered about many times for years. I think every person has a perceptual aspect in their nature. When you open that part of yourself up to awareness, you can see a lot of things. That’s true in astrology. Everything you are as a person, all your cultivation as an individual, in that moment when you read for the person, you are putting yourself as the vessel to serve that person. So you put your own self aside and put yourself at their service.
And your self is all of it—the understanding of the aspects, the understanding of the chart and what it means. It’s also the understanding of what you know about their life and what they tell you. You have all that and then there is something else. So I don’t know if you call that intuition or awareness or maybe it’s that on some level, we’re all one. But you want to tap in or understand or connect with that universality of experience where everything you are, that you’ve developed, is part of that reading. So if you call it intuition, cultivation, conscious and unconscious mind, it’s that. But you have to have something like that along with the technique.
Q. So it’s some combination of knowledge, experience and intuition.
A. I would agree with you.
Q. A person is born at a particular second. How is it possible that at the moment they enter reality, where all the planets are at that moment actually determines every minute of their future?
A. First off, it will not determine every minute of your future. There’s synchronicity–things that happen at the same time usually have a relationship with each other. I think that’s what astrology is based on.
Q. Can you explain that more?
A. There’s a maxim: “As above, so below. As below, so above.” What is above influences what is below. So the heavens influence the earth and the earth influences the heavens. You could say in mythology, the Gods in Olympus had an influence on the humans. But the humans had an influence on the Gods, too. The Gods were dependent in some way on what’s going on here in terms of how it affected their lives. So when you burn incense to the Gods, that is a reflection of the dynamic connection between heaven and earth. You could say very philosophically, we’re all moving toward that self-realization of what is the divine spark in man. “As above, so below, as below, so above” is what happens when you’re born. It’s the theme or the thrust or the subtext or the archetype of that person’s life. It would be reflected by, if you want, which Gods are influencing them, vis à vis the planets.
Q. Well, then you have to believe in these Gods. What if you don’t?
A. You don’t need to believe in the Gods at all. What is, is. Jung’s idea of synchronicity is that things that happen at the same moment have a relationship. The chart reflects the relationship. It may be unseen in the visible world, but it has a relationship. So if a child comes, what is going on at that time will have an influence on them–not only in the planets, but in the world.
Q. But how is it that the position of the planets at the time of our birth continues to influence us?
A. You could say that moment is your moment. And that moment is your chart. When you’re doing the natal chart, that is what I always call ‘the contract.’ In other words, what the person is going to have to live with–their themes and their autobiography in planetary terms for the rest of their life. It’s very technical, very mathematical, very specific in terms of space and time. But you could also say it’s a symbolic representation–a symbolic aspect of the person. The chart is also a way to look at the person’s life and tune into it and read it from that symbolic aspect as well.