Becoming a Professional Astrologer: Q+A with Patrick Watson
If you are an Astrology skeptic like I once was, you may want to open your mind and read this amazing interview with Professional Astrologer.
Astrology has been a huge part of my life since a very young age. I learned that my “horoscope sign” is Aries when I was 7 or 8 years old. I was shopping for clothes at Limited Too (anyone remember that store??) with my mom and they had T Shirts with sun signs on the front. The Aries T-Shirt, if I remember correctly, had a cartoonish girl with a feisty smirk on the front of it. I found my birthday on the chart conveniently posted near the tees and matched myself to the fiery red top. I could relate to that girl!
Naturally, as I grew into myself, situations occurred in my life that turned me into a skeptic. I learned how to think critically and the magic and wonder of Astrology seemed synonymous to someone claiming that Santa Claus was real. Then, at just 14, I met Patrick Watson, who showed me that Astrology was much, much more in depth than I ever could have imagined.
Patrick, now a professional astrologer and blogger, was kind enough to answer some questions many people have about Astrology. Since meeting Patrick 16 years ago, I have considered myself a casual student of Astrology, and you’re about to find out why.
We go way back! My first memory of you took place when I was 14 and we went to the same summer theater camp. Somehow, a conversation started on the subject of Astrology and I was fascinated.
I listened to you talk on and on about it with confidence and a commanding passion for the subject. You opened my eyes to the real possibility that Astrology was deeper than just reading my horoscope in the Sunday paper.
What sparked this passion for Astrology?
We do go way back!
I read my first horoscope around age 7 in the Reader’s Digest and some of my mother’s magazines. Because my birthday falls on October 23rd, I didn’t know whether I should read the delineation for Libra or Scorpio. I asked my mother and it turns out she had taken astrology classes back in the 1970’s and had a sizable astrology book collection. She had made sure my father recorded my precise birth time, so she knew my Sun was in Libra, not Scorpio.
The idea that there was an exact time I could have been a Scorpio Sun and not a Libra Sun intrigued me. Around the age of 12 I had my mother read my natal chart to me, by age 14 I started reading all her books, and by age 16 I started finding astrology groups on Myspace. This is where my learning exploded and that’s when we met – when I was 17.
How is a natal chart reading different than a generic horoscope?
In some cases, people without knowing their birth time could even be reading their horoscope for the wrong sun sign.
A generic horoscope is a general interpretation of whole sign aspects to a 30 degree area of the zodiac, wherever the Sun was in the tropical zodiac at the time you were born.
Astrology is the idea that celestial events reflect earthly events, which includes the specific positions and relationships between all the planets and stars at the time and place of one’s birth, not just the Sun. It would be like calling a mechanic to get your car fixed and expecting them to do it from only knowing the make of the car. To get your car fixed, you’re going to have to let a mechanic take a look at it up close and in detail.
To understand what astrology has to say about you, you can’t just tell an astrologer you’re a Taurus, you’re going to have to let them take a look at your natal chart. From this, many more details about different areas of life can be understood, as well as the specific timing of certain events.
Why would someone not identify with his or her sun sign?
There are a few reasons.
1. The first reason is that the Sun is more closely associated with the day and the Moon is more closely associated with the night. If someone is born during the day then they may be more likely to identify with their Sun sign, provided that the Sun is more angular than the Moon and Ascendant ruler.
If someone is born at night, they may be more likely to identify with their Moon sign, provided that the Moon is more angular than the Sun and Ascendant ruler. The Sun has ancient associations with intangible matters, the light of the mind, the creative force of one’s will, one’s spirit. Meanwhile the Moon has ancient associations tangible matters, concerning the body, our physical incarnation with all its vulnerabilities, needs, habits and instincts.
Consequently some people are more “solar”, which would be people who live more in their minds, actively making conscious choices and taking deliberate actions in life. Whereas others are more “lunar”, which would be people who live more in their bodies, passively absorbing life’s experiences, taking things as they come and leaving things more up to chance. Most of us have mixes of these traits although some may live more clearly on ends of these spectra.
2. The second reason would be that the Sun and Moon are not necessarily the only celestial bodies in the chart that represent you in totality. Who we are is in a sense at the meeting point between spirit and body, or day and night. The eastern horizon is where day and night meet, where planets and stars make their first emergence into visibility. This is why one’s birthplace and birth time are so important in astrology, because the local eastern horizon as a place of emergence mirrors the impetus of our own emergence into the world at our birth.
The eastern horizon at the time and place of our birth is what is known as the Ascendant or rising sign. The rising sign and the condition of its ruling planet is what reflects something about our basic nature, character, identity and even our appearance. It reflects our fundamental modus operandi and the house placement of the ruling planet shows the specific part of life, which may be an area of focus for our activities over the lifetime.
3. Additionally, planets rising at the time of one’s birth can become contributing factors to some of our surface characteristics. So while the Sun may be representative of our spirit and will, and the Moon more representative of our physical incarnation and circumstances, it is the celestial body ruling the Ascendant that more often represents us.
Astrology is way more in depth than most people know, as you just pointed out. What is your favorite way to use astrology?
My favorite type of astrology is mundane astrology, researching history and then predicting events across time and into the future. I also love the challenge of choosing election dates for the weddings of newly-engaged couples.
My most distinctive natal astrology service is probably in my use of Zodiacal Releasing from the Lots of Fortune, Spirit and Eros.
So you can use astrology for predictions for world events and disasters?
Yes, but getting specific is hard. On the world stage, Richard Tarnas’ work in Cosmos and Psyche proves that astrology is absolutely archetypically predictive. If you trace the axes of a given planetary cycle, history will teach you its themes.
For example, astrologers had been concerned for years about the Saturn-Pluto conjunction in January 2020. Saturn-Pluto conjunctions have previously coincided with periods of pronounced fear: world wars, cold wars, fascism, terrorism, genocides, disease.
Using the Saturn-Pluto’s cycle correlation with the war on terror, I predicted the January 2020 Saturn-Pluto conjunction would coincide with a tentative but complicating conclusion to the war on terror, an end to the War in Afghanistan. It was in December 2019 – February 2020 that the US reached a peace deal with the Taliban which effectively established an end to US involvement in the War in Afghanistan, despite the outbreak of sectarian violence in its wake.
At the same time, previous Saturn-Pluto conjunctions have coincided with outbreaks of deadly disease, such as the Black Death in medieval Europe and AIDS in 1982. While I mentioned those correlations in my predictions I didn’t focus on them as much as I did on the general theme of isolation and imprisonment, which is sort of the name of the game in 2020. Self-isolation, self-imprisonment.
Other astrologers were more precise though. Andre Barbault made specific predictions about a global pandemic arriving in 2020. There are many different events interfacing with these common themes and archetypes of the Saturn-Pluto complex which can make it hard to predict the exact shape it will take, but you can predict the kinds of things you might see.
Can you tell us about your journey into becoming an astrologer?
At age 17 in March 2005 I met Chris Brennan and Nick Dagan Best on Myspace in the Horoscopic Astrology Group. Chris introduced me to ancient Hellenistic astrology while Nick introduced me to recurring planetary cycles. I graduated from high school in May 2006, and I met them for the first time in person at age 18 in August 2006 when I attended my first astrology conference. This is when I settled on using the tropical zodiac, traditional planetary rulerships and the whole sign house system.
I entered college in the fall of 2006 without a clear idea of what I wanted to do. My main areas of interest in high school were in the arts, music and theater. I also loved English and History. I was encouraged to study music, but because my father was a semi-famous classical musician I wanted to avoid just retreading his path or being inevitably compared to him.
I was deeply conflicted in college between my twin passions of music and astrology. The only career goals I had really considered were being a film score composer, an astrological author or a standup comedian. You know, reliable careers. I was also discouraged by the fact that the only areas I had strengths in were areas, which are lowly regarded, low paid or with little opportunity or high competition.
While I was completing my general education requirements my mind was really elsewhere. In every spare moment I was either completing a cappella arrangements and film scores or I was commenting on astrology forums and blogging about astrology. My studies in Hellenistic techniques advanced, especially being in such close collaboration with Chris Brennan. Ultimately I decided that perhaps being a musician would be more respectable than being an astrologer, so I completed my major in music and took a hiatus from astrology.
After graduating in May 2011, I got back into astrology because of the 2012 election. In April 2012, Chris and I published a successful prediction that President Obama would win against Mitt Romney. Separately, we had also predicted that Hillary would run in 2016. This got the attention of ABC News which led to an invitation to appear on Fox News.
Since astrology was not my main career goal at that time and it was for Chris, I nominated him to appear on our behalf, which he did in this surreal segment on Fox & Friends. Before the 2012 election, Chris and I released a book on political astrology, detailing our approach to researching political topics with astrology.
Despite this increased attention from my work in astrology, I kept it separate and secret from my day job as a choir director and music teacher. I got married in 2013 and by 2015, my wife and I were parents of three children! In late 2014, I finally decided to return to blogging and not long after, decided to start accepting clients for paid services.
In the lead-up to the 2016 election I was quoted in the Washington Post and the Wall Street Journal and I did my first public presentation about astrology at the 2016 ISAR conference. In 2017, I switched to teaching music part-time and doing astrology part-time. By the end of 2018, I made the final switch to doing astrology full-time, writing articles, making videos and providing natal, electional, horary and rectification services.
I know I’m probably in some extreme minority being 32, married with 3 kids living in the suburbs and working as an astrologer of all things, but it is all true. My secret is that I had a terrific partner in my wife Beth who made it possible for me to put the time and effort required to build my career, and stuck by me through my risky career decisions even when there was no guarantee of success. I can never repay her sacrifices except to make her life as comfortable as possible from here on out. I also could not have achieved what I have if it were not for my mentors Nick Dagan Best, and especially Chris Brennan, as well as the large circle of friends in astrology who have supported and believed in me over the past two decades.
Despite my experience and the label of ‘professional astrologer’ I still see myself as a student of astrology. There is still so much I have not even looked at yet. It’s an endless source of fascination and discovery that could occupy several lifetimes. So this is how I’ve become an astrologer.
It doesn’t surprise me that you have gained the recognition you have in the Astrology community and beyond, but it’s fascinating that people seem to be more accepting of new age philosophies these days. Why do you think astrology is becoming more “main stream” in recent years?
Astrology by itself cannot provide an exhaustive account of all reality. But, in a world where religious dogma and scientific materialism cannot provide all the answers, I think people seek astrology out because it provides a unique additional perspective.
It helps people understand themselves better. It contextualizes relationships and events in a way that is accessible and personally meaningful. It educates us about the archetypes and rhythms of human behavior and history. It reacquaints us with the cycles and patterns in our skies and connects us to all previous human civilizations, which have been inspired by the mysteries of the heavens.
Astrology provides evidence of an ordered, enchanted world of purpose, meaning and destiny. And y’know, people just love sharing dank memes dragging Geminis.
Haha! Gotta love the astrology meme culture of 2020. It is really extraordinary how much you know at such a young age. When did you know you wanted to become an astrologer?
It was a gradual process, from being an enthusiast to a professional. I started taking myself seriously as a professional astrologer around late 2014, essentially the beginning of my Saturn return in Sagittarius.
I am going through that transit right now, which has manifested MANY monumental changes in my life, from new babies to career changes. Everyone goes through this intense transit between 28 – 30 years old. What is the best way for someone to learn more about his or her Saturn return?
A Saturn return begins when Saturn ingresses into the sign it was in at your birth. Themes of the Saturn return intensify as Saturn approaches the degree of your natal Saturn and recede as it separates. The Saturn transit formally ends when Saturn leaves the sign it was in at your birth.
The topics that will be most relevant to the Saturn return will be the whole sign house that your natal Saturn is in, as well as the whole sign houses that it rules, Capricorn and Aquarius. A great resource for learning more about your Saturn return is the Saturn Return Stories website run by my good friend Leisa Schaim.
If this all went over your head and you’re a total beginner, I can also help you understand what your Saturn return may be about through my general natal consultations.
If someone is interested in learning more about astrology, where is a good starting point?
If you’re just starting out the first thing you should do is find out your exact birth time so that you can calculate your natal chart with a free account at www.astro.com.
Astro.com is the overall best astrology website on the internet. You can read free interpretations of all the various planetary placements and aspects in your natal chart. There are also numerous excellent introductory articles into the fundamentals of astrology: planets, signs, houses, aspects. They also have a vast ephemeris, which can tell you where planets are at any given point in time if you learn how to read it. I also have a lot of free information on my site on various astrological topics on my website, www.patrickwatsonastrology.com.
For pursuing the kind of astrology that I do, I highly recommend listening to Chris Brennan’s Astrology Podcast. This has been the access point for a lot of new astrologers. I would also highly recommend taking Chris Brennan’s Hellenistic Astrology course. It’s the straight dope.
Eventually you’ll want to read as many astrology books as you can. I highly recommend reading Richard Tarnas, Chris Brennan, Demetra George, Austin Coppock, and Hellenistic astrology texts translated by Project Hindsight.
Further along in your studies you’ll want to reach out to astrology groups that tickle your fancy on Facebook, Twitter and Reddit. If people are talking about traditional astrology and Hellenistic astrology, it’s probably a good place to go, in my opinion.
Has anyone ever read your Astrology chart? Let me know more in the comments!