Transforming through the Forces of Pluto in Sagittarius:
The Importance of Objectivity in Astrology
by Judi Vitale , C.A. NCGR, Member APAI
Author's Note: Before you begin this article, I'd like to state that this is MY opinion of why objectivity is so important in our work as professional astrologers. You may have a different idea, quibble with some of mine – or have an article of your own to offer. if that's the case, please send your thoughts to me at firstname.lastname@example.org . We will soon be starting a “Letters to geocosmic.org” section where we'll take your opinions, and post them for all to read!
What's happened to the way we communicate in our society? In the not-too-distant past, it was considered gauche at best and even unethical for a journalistic or academic professional reporting his/her observations of fact-based events to reveal any sort of bias. That certainly isn't what most of us read and hear in the media circa 2004. Much of today's news reporting has been overrun with commentary and nuance that in times past would have been covered by a disclaimer stating something to the effect of “The opinions expressed here are not those of the management of this organization.” Sadly, it has become almost impossible to weed through the reporters' opinions about the events and the people involved in them to get at the facts. It's become necessary for us to become familiar with a person's bias (or that of the organization s/he represents) before we can intelligently interpret what's being passed off as “news”. Once the keystone of the ivory tower of journalism, now the rule against bias is too often bent and twisted so that it fits the purposes served by the people who act as news reporters and writers – and the powerful corporations that own news organizations.
When I think about how this situation has escalated over the last several years, I wonder how much of it has to do with Pluto's journey through Sagittarius. Could the planet of power and obsession, as it takes on the cause of “ultimate truth”, have created an atmosphere that allows facts to be twisted and distorted so they fit into a person's personal idea of what “truth” is? It seems so to me. Our obsession with our beliefs, what's “right” and “wrong”, who's offended, what's offensive, who cares too little or too much have become more important than finding the facts. Even in the justice system, we have seen the manipulation of the facts and “trial by media” superseding fair hearings based on evidence and the protection of victims' rights, as well as the presumption that one is innocent until proven guilty. With Pluto in Sagittarius, our education system has become politicized too – and our politics have become polarized so that we're either “Right-Wing Lunatics” or “Liberal Goofballs”. This bifurcation of our society is disturbing enough, but what's worse yet is that the identity with one's “truth” is so strong, people make assessments regarding the worth of a another's contribution to society based on how well it supports one side or the other.
So it seems that a force we as astrologers can attribute to Pluto in Sagittarius has made personal opinion a passion with many of us, all too often at the expense of objectivity and bypassing the individual's right to process facts, consider both sides of a given issue and form an independent opinion. Freedom of thought is hardly considered anymore. There's a lot of “with us or against us” kind of talk, both in the world at large and even in our comparatively tiny community.
Being of a parochial sort to begin with, it bothers me a lot to see that the trend toward focusing on opinion rather than fact has oozed into more academically-oriented fields, especially ours – the community of astrologers. Just as standards of objectivity used to be a point of pride and a mark of professionalism in the field of journalism, so did they used to ensure that astrologers were, first and foremost, using their knowledge as a tool to gain information and insight when they wrote or spoke about politics and world events. This doesn't seem to be the case anymore. Whether they're arguing over which school of astrology is “right” or which political leader is “the best”, astrologers are increasingly adding political commentary to their public comments and written articles. Worse yet, many of them state personal opinion and then twist the astrology interpretation to back it up!
Why is objectivity important to astrology? In terms of Professional Empowerment, clinical objectivity boosts the public impression that we make as a group of practitioners. When an astrologer is hired to answer a question for a client, the astrologer is being asked to use his or her expertise in astrology to provide information and insight. For instance, if a client asks whether it's a good time to accept an offer for a new job, you probably would base your answer on what you see in the client's chart and the transits, progressions and other factors that are affecting it at the time of your consultation. Would you tell the client you'd object to him or her taking said job because the potential employer was known to produce hazardous waste or promote abortion? Let's hope not! As professional astrologers, most of us would agree, there would be no call for us to inject any of our personal political biases into advice we would give to a client.
Similarly, whenever we are discussing or projecting the potential outcome of world events as an astrologer, our audience is implicitly “asking” our opinion of what ASTROLOGY can tell us about those events. Any individual opinion is secondary to professional observations, and if we are careful enough about the way you present your information, no one has to know what our political stance might be- -nor, in my opinion, should they. People should be able to take in our information and make their decisions with however much consideration they care to give to our suggestions. Whether they agree with us or not is irrelevant – what's important is that they are impressed by our skills as astrologers and that they realize the value of astrology as an art and practice.
By being as clinical as we possibly can be when we're making public statements - describing world events, or even which celebrities will remain united in married bliss forever and ever - we maintain a dignified professional identity. If you still don't see why this is good for astrologers, consider the “Oogy Factor” that the average person associates with astrology. When an astrologer makes a comment, people often take it (whether we like it or not) as though it came from the rouge-encrusted lips of an all-knowing (and very scary) soothsayer. The idea that we talk about predicting the future isn't as easily accepted by the average person as it is by those of us who talk about it all the time. Because of this, astrologers have to work twice as hard as other so-called “experts”, like psychologists and sociologists, to gain credibility and overcome being perceived as some carnival side show act. By remaining objective and reasonable, we can achieve a level of calm and detachment that commands respect. This can lift the public image of astrology and make it much more acceptable to an otherwise skeptical or spooked-out public.
In essence, when we make public statements, it's important to re-orient ourselves to look at astrology-related factors first, and then base what we say on what we SEE – not on what we believe.
Before we can do this, we have to find a way to understand how Pluto in Sagittarius might be affecting our own tendencies to abandon objectivity in our work. We spend much of our time trying to convince clients that if they acknowledge and bring their unconscious impulses up to the surface, they can gain better control over their lives. Certainly,one way to objectify the atmosphere in our community, we can benefit from taking a little of our own advice! If Pluto gives us a drive to transform, to become something better than we were before we made the effort to grow as people and professionals, then perhaps we can use Pluto's power to become more precise and effective in the way we express ourselves – particularly in public.
Some of the more benevolent products of the most recent Pluto in Sagittarius period have been an increased emphasis on education in astrology and the development of a Code of Ethics for NCGR. Recently the following statement was added:
"E.1 Accuracy and Objectivity
When engaged in teaching or writing, astrologers present astrological information accurately and with appropriate objectivity."
Granted, it isn't always easy to be objective. With a grand water trine in my chart, I certainly understand how easily emotion and excitement can override rational and impartial thinking. But as professional astrologers, we need to do our best to achieve the level of objectivity we owe to the rest of the astrology community and to the public.
So how can we begin to deal with Pluto's awesome planetary influence? It's my guess that we'd be better served - and doing better service – if we worked with Pluto as it does its magical transformation work on ourselves. Maybe we can benefit from examining how its stay in Sagittarius is affecting our own compulsions to identify with our ideas of “right” and “wrong”, and learn how to behave consciously and responsibly when we express our astrology-based impressions- for the good of astrology and the people we serve by practicing it.
Judi Vitale , C.A. NCGR, Member APAI is a practicing astrologer and professional astrology writer living in New York City. She is also the Web Coordinator for NCGR.