Practicing New Techniques (Avasthas) as a Beginner - Ethical Considerations- How Did You Do It?
Dear members of this forum,
I have recently finished the "Interpreting Avasthas" course and have been looking at the charts of people I know to practice this technique. I am now at the point where I have exhausted the number of people within my social circle that I can ask for their birth details and whose lives and personalities I know well enough to see them reflected in their birth charts. I feel like in order to properly learn a technique, learning the theory behind it and testing that on a handful of charts of the people you know and cannot be objective about is not enough. I feel that that theory needs to go hand in hand with experience, ideally the many concrete ways that experience can manifest in real people's charts. I also feel a strong desire to make my own observations and eventually not have to exclusively rely on what I have learned (i. e. someone else's thoughts and research, however brilliant they may be).
The best way to do that that I can think of is to collect a number of charts, sit down with the natives and give them prompts so they can talk about their placements and lives. I am a member of multiple Facebook astrology groups and have considered asking people if they would like to participate in something like that. However, I can't help but think that doing so might be unethical in some way. Of course, I would fully disclose that I am not a professional astrologer and point out the limitations of what I would be able to do. I'm still a beginner, I have not yet finished the beginner's section of this website. I haven't studied Jaimini and don't know timing techniques. But then why would people agree to a reading? Shouldn't I be able to offer something in return for them telling me their stories (who wants to feel like a guinea pig)? On the other hand, if I don't try and test the techniques enough, how can I know they work and how can I actually develop my skills?
I would love to hear from those who are more advanced than me about how they dealt with this dilemma. At the beginner's stage, you know very little, but whatever you do know still needs to be practiced. How did you deal with this and practice in the beginning? Any advice would be appreciated!
Edit: I've decided to wait and finish the beginner's section first before potentially approaching people I don't know personally for their birth charts. Thanks to everyone who took the time to respond, share their experiences and approaches. You have no idea how much you've helped me! I tend to ask a lot of questions (my teachers in school always wished I had an "off" button), which I know can be a little much. Thank you so much for indulging me and helping me. You guys all have the patience of saints!
I am far from being advanced and consider myself at the beginner's stage as well but I can at least tell you about where I'm at as I've done a few readings for friends already. I am very open about the fact that I am a beginner and the only thing I ask in return is an honest feedback (and, if they are willing, a testimonial that I can use for my website when building one becomes relevant for me). I even got a donation from one of them the other day, something I had never put on the table but that was spontaneously offered after the reading.
Of course, I oftentimes tell myself that those people would be better off with a more experienced astrologer but I also remind myself that we get the perfect "client" at the perfect time. Meaning, we are a perfect match at this time of your lives and what you say is what they need to hear, regardless of your level of expertise.
I'm also not sure that, knowing all the techniques in the world makes you the best astrologer there is. I've noticed that, some of my best conversations happened when I knew less and I was less caught up in trying to assemble all the techniques into one meaningful package. Ketu in Gemini, what can you expect? ;)).
I wouldn't worry about Jaimini, I've taken the first audio classes and am using some of the techniques I learned there, it's great and straight to the point but you can add that later, once you have a solid foundation for what you want to do. I've personally decided to focus 100% on Rahu/Ketu which, in itself, gathers a lot of other needed topics and knowledge (Lajjitaadi Avasthas , Yoga of characters,...). So, my advice to you would be to, first, take a hard look at what type of astrologer you want to me (aka your niche) and build your studying and practice around that. it took me 9 months to get to my Rahu/Ketu conclusion and, while I don't regret all the other things I've learned (because it's so holistic anyway), I could have saved myself some time being more focused. I've just listened to Ernst's video on "factors that support the healing of Rahu and Ketu" and he mentions that one of his students built a successful compatibility practice by learning the Akriti Nabhasa Yogas (and some other compatibility yogas) and that's all he uses. But, with a 10 of Clubs in my Pluto cards, I know I need to get myself involved in multiples activities and topics before I can strip away what doesn't work for me (such as hard core predictive astrology, for example).
So, those limitations you mention can actually become a strength (I believe in the power of the niche) and as long as you are open re: your level of expertise and what you can and cannot do, I don't see anything unethical about it.
Hope this helps!
@angela-wilson You mentioned a strong desire to make your own observations. The best way to do that is focus on your own chart. Since you have recently finished the Avasthas, look at how it affects you, what do you feel, how do you deal with it.
Astrology came into my life because it was I who needed it. So I focus on myself with it. I love mystery and I love to solve puzzles, and I have found myself to be the biggest and most multi-dimensional puzzle and mystery I could have ever undertaken to solve. An entire lifetime will fall short to fit all the pieces together. But somehow, by understanding myself I have begun to understand others better. By trying to puzzle myself out, I am learning new things and making new connections within astrology.
Plus it keeps my mind sharp, and helps me be more observant and grounded in the present most of the times.
This might not be everyone's cup of tea, but since you asked I decided to throw in a different perspective...
A few ideas to add to yours, to help you get started reading for strangers once you have your basics covered and are ready to take the plunge:
1. Decide what type of "clients" you'd like to read for, and maybe try them all:
a) clients that just know their Sun signs and a few others things, like the fact there are 12 zodiac signs and the word Ascendant makes them confused. This type of clients are usually open and very grateful to know why is their life like that and how can they make their life better or more difficult. Technical words like "aspects" only confuse them. You'll know they appreciated your simple counseling because they'll come back.
b) clients that think they know a lot of astrology because they've been to many astrologers and they are still unhappy, looking for more and more and better readings. After you tell them something about their charts, they'll say they already know that. Then you'll start feeling worthless cause you didn't outdo/outsay the previous astrologer. You need to stay confident with them, but it's hard in the begining. They'll come back a few times, until you too are "failing" them.
c) forum and group clients know a bit or a lot themselves, and it becomes a bit competitive as to who knows more, they'll even correct you and want to read for you too, cause they know more. This is great to get you to improve and make friends and keep you on your toes, but these aren't usually return clients because they are busy themselves building their own practice, which takes time and hard work.
2. Decide how you'd like to provide the readings:
a) in writing via email (non interactive)
b) in person
c) over the phone
d) online "live"
e) voice or video recorded reading sent to them (non interactive)
3. Decide what types of readings you feel comfortable to start with, you can always add more and try more after:
a) birth chart readings - using whatever techniques you know
4. Decide how you'd like people to know you offer services:
a) word of mouth (that's always best) - that takes time
b) build a website
c) social media: open a YouTube channel, Instagram account or other social media, Facebook
d) paid advertisement
e) sharing flyers locally
5. Decide what type of payments you'll be able to accept, and how. Yes, in the beginning you won't need it, if you'll do FREE readings. (By the way, if you offer "practicing on charts" clients may feel like you're just testing on them. If you call it "free readings", clients may feel like they are getting something valuable and that they owe you). When you'll accept online payments, it might be a good idea to set up a little "disclaimer" as to make it clear if you do refunds and for what reasons. Don't go overboard like some people I've seen (me????). I also know some great Astrologers and Teachers that have never had a disclaimer because they have awesome people skills for troubleshooting and problem solving.
Just to clarify, these are just a few ideas from my personal experience. I am not saying it is the best way to go, nor that it is wise. If you are open to it, more experience astrologers and also directly/indirectly advice on best practices to get you started.
Other than that, just relax and have fun with it! It is a very responsible thing to read people's charts, so morals and ethics are important even if in many countries it isn't a "regulated" profession, but we have to love it! Why would I want to read a chart and hate doing it?
Love your idea about referrals.