Feb 232011

by Patty Morris

In this heartfelt and well written essay, Patty Morris comes out of the astrology closet, not with a bang, but a beautifully resonating altar bell. Calling herself a practical mystic, Patty makes space for all the colors and shapes we bring to living our daily lives.

It was a little over a year ago that I first came out of the closet as an astrologer. I say came out of the closet because that’s exactly what it felt like. I had told my friends and some (very skeptical) family members about my interest in and practice of astrology, but had theretofore never publicly outed myself. This was because the feedback I had received about my “hobby” up to that point had felt less-than supportive. I had my friends who got me. But more than one acquaintance or loved one had made a careless comment or joke about my “telling fortunes.” I’ve been asked at least 7 times if I have a “crystal ball.” And it gets old. Real old. Especially since I spent most of my young professional life on Boards of Directors and committees. I knew people. Important people. And I managed important people. And I liked being known as someone who knew and managed important people. So, being likened to head-scarved crystal-ball lookers wasn’t my favorite comparison. Though, for the record, I do like wearing head scarves. But it’s not because I tell fortunes. It’s because they look smashing with my dark hair and light eyes.

My outing occurred via an online e-zine article that I wrote last summer. A friend of mine had known about my astrological readings and heard tell that I wasn’t half-bad. As she is a confirmed expert in holistic health, she had started a website aimed at exploring the many dimensions of health and thought my astrological wisdom could provide a unique and interesting perspective. And so it was that I found myself composing a piece on health as articulated through the astrological concepts of Virgo and the 6th house—which are generally agreed-upon indicators in a given individual’s chart. As is my custom, I tried to make it accessible to the everyman. For me, the practice of astrology has never been an end unto itself. It is a vehicle for self-and-other understanding. It is the cosmology which most resonates with my point of view, and as such, the most powerful way I’ve found to support people in navigating their lives skillfully. The article was published in August 2009 and received rave reviews from every single one of my four friends who read it. But the exercise was a powerful one for me—I had managed to own my identity as an astrologer without losing my sense of myself as a grounded and practical person. And I managed to get through the experience without any smart-aleck references from the peanut gallery about my being a fortune-teller. From then on, I felt slightly more at ease about putting myself forward as an astrologer. I began to imagine that I could become an example, in the field of astrology, of a person who was both mystical and practical. A practical mystic. I liked the sound of that.

Not long after I wrote that article, the self-same friend who had asked me to write it, sent me an email, begging me to comment on an article she had just posted. For her birthday that year, she had bought herself a reading with me, and, after having gained some insight from it about the practice of astrology, had decided to compose a piece about how to choose a good astrologer. The article was a revelation—though she had expressed her appreciation of the work we had done together in person, I hadn’t realized just how deeply it had sat with her until I saw it articulated in the article before me. Still beaming from the accolades, I scrolled to the bottom, to the comments, and saw just exactly why she had emailed me about commenting on the piece. She had posted the piece just a few hours earlier and already there were 10 comments, most of which were of the vitriolic variety, slamming my friend and anyone else who put credence in a practice as “absurd” as astrology. One particularly passionate dissenter said, and I quote, “Oh, for goodness sake! Why on earth does this otherwise extraordinarily useful and informative website need to be cluttered up with this absolute rubbish?” Other responses highlighted existing scientific proof that astrology has been disproven. Some folks posted links to articles that demonstrated that astrology had no foundation in reality. Several insisted that we astrological charlatans were making a bundle of money off of preying on others’ vulnerabilities with lies and should be sued. (As a side note, if any of you know who these astrologers are that are making bundles of money, please let me know. I’d like to be in touch with them so I can figure out how to make that happen for myself.)

Ouch. I felt my heart sinking lower and lower with every post I laid eyes upon. At first, I was going to refuse to respond. One aspect of my personality that I’m proud to say that I’ve cultivated through years of self-growth work, (and 3 years in a spiritually-oriented psychology program) is an ability to step back from those situations in which I’m very personally and emotionally activated and to resist doing anything until I feel more rooted in rationality. I gave it a few days. I started and ended a number of responses. I tried, unsuccessfully, to address the scientifically-based underpinnings of astrology. I attempted some vitriol of my own – launching an attack on those reactionary playa-haters. And then I gave up, exasperated. The truth is, I didn’t (and don’t) love astrology because it makes a ton of sense. I practice astrology because it’s the best and most effective way I’ve found to see myself, and others, more clearly.

My belief system in a nutshell: The Universe is one big whole whose many components are both pieces and reflections of that whole. As such, each one of us are both contained within and containing of all of the manifold beautiful, loving, ugly, and hateful aspects that compose that Universe. Think: holograms. In a hologram, you see both the singular, composite picture, and a thousand tiny identical pictures that compose the larger picture but are themselves perfectly and wholly reflecting its image. It’s like that, for me with our Universe, and tools like astrology, dreamwork, and any other symbolic work can provide a useful objective, holographic reflection that can support us in seeing ourselves more easily. The planets and the energies they represent are archetypes—parts of us that are much more easily understood when examined from without than from within.

I thought about sharing this with the online community that had summarily rejected my friend’s favorable assessment of our astrology reading. But I didn’t want to. My beliefs are very important to me—perhaps more personal than even my astrological practice. I don’t reveal them to just any old person. And that crowd did not seem especially interested in being educated about differing perspectives anyway. So I did the only thing I could do in order to keep myself safe from the vulnerability of further slander while at the same time honoring the integrity of my chosen practice. I advocated for the commenting folks to allow others to have their divergent opinions, and encouraged them to honor their own sense about how the world worked. Specifically, I said, “I’m not attached to astrology being the one true cosmology. It’s simply the vehicle for self-and-other understanding that’s been the most powerful in my life, and I appreciate the fact that others have shared that appreciation with me. I trust that those who aren’t interested will find another, more appropriate method to engage in this kind of inquiry. There are many paths to greater awareness, and I honor them all.”

Some of my friends were disappointed that I didn’t launch a more specific and incisive attack on the individuals who were speaking against this practice that has been such a precious and important part of my life for the past decade. I felt good about my decision, though, because I had decided to practice what I preach. If I want these folks to honor my right to be an astrologer, I have to honor their right to hate and vilify those of us who practice. My dear hope is that in doing so, I am coming one step closer to creating a world that makes space for and honors all the colors and shapes we bring to living our daily lives. But it’s hard to measure such things. I still cringe every time I go back and read their comments.

Needless to say, at the outset, this experience did not lend an especially helpful hand in moving me closer to honoring my identity as an astrologer. But truth to tell, it didn’t especially hurt either. What it did was clarify my growing sense that astrology isn’t the tool for everybody and that I needn’t feel called to justify or promote it where it isn’t wanted. In the end, it isn’t important to me that you like or even that you respect astrology—it’s important that you respect my (and anyone else’s) right to let it hold sway in their/our lives. At then end of the day, if we can agree to peacefully disagree, I’ll be happy. But don’t even THINK about attacking my headscarves. I take my accessories VERY personally.

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Originally published at Awakening the Bay

Patty Morris, MA has been practicing evolutionary astrology and counseling individuals for over 8 years, bringing deep, intuitive insight, humor and wisdom to her study of the planets. Committed to facilitating transformation in individuals, communities, and the world-at-large, she holds a Master’s in Public Policy with a specialization in social justice and is pursuing licensure as a transpersonal counselor at John F. Kennedy University. Patty’s unique approach to astrology invites individuals to recognize and aspire to their soul’s highest potential, while orienting them to themselves in a way that encourages radical self-acceptance. For readings and consulation you can reach her at: patty.m.morris [at] gmail.com