(originally published in The Mountain Astrologer - July 1994)
By Bruce Scofield
Making a living at astrology is not so easy as one might think. It's really a lot of work at something that is not supported by society at large. Actually, society at large discourages it by reducing it to entertainment and making it a joke. Sure, there are the benefits of helping others, but there are no health benefits or retirement plans that come with the job. It's self-employment of the most stressful kind -- you try to market yourself intelligently to about 5% of the population, interpret complex symbols that have to be translated into English, try to reach out to the confused and ambivalent, or attempt to satisfy the planners and control freaks. And on top of this, you're expected to be right most of the time, unlike doctors and therapists who make fortunes doing their socially sanctioned work.
Some people think astrology is a good racket to get into so they study the subject for a year or two and have their business cards printed. They can get away with this because the field is not organized or recognized, but they soon find out it's no bed of flowers. Eventually they give it up and go onto something easier and more lucrative. The most common astrological practitioners are people who read charts on a part time basis. Usually they have a spouse that brings home the bigger chunk of bacon which gives them the luxury of taking their time preparing the chart, looking it over and making notes about what to talk about with the client. If they get good at what they do, and have a good business sense, then they will eventually become full-time astrologers which, in the absence of formal education and certification, is about as close to being a professional in the field as you can get.
After making a living as a musician for a number of years, I got fed up with the uncertainty of the music business and the constant interactions with ego-maniacs and decided that astrology might be an easier route toward financial stability. I had been doing readings part time during the 1970's and felt I was ready to take the plunge, so in 1980 I decided to go full time. I made $4,000 the first year and would have starved if it weren't for the weekend club dates and weddings I played with my now part-time band. As the years rolled by I got better at reading charts and learned what I needed to do to get the job done. Nobody showed me how to run my astrology business -- I made it up as I went. There is no one way to be a full-time astrologer and I think nearly every other practitioner in the field makes it up as they go, unlike chiropractors who take courses on how to run their business while at chiropractic school. I'm not necessarily complaining here, just making a comparison that underscores my point about how difficult it is to be a real astrologer.
So here I am today making a teacher's salary without benefits but doing something I love. My income supports three people, so it's critical that I keep earning money. I carry $5,000 deductible medical insurance (which is what I can afford), fix my own car most of the time and have no paid vacations. I did get a bonus from a client who won a lot of money at Atlantic City on my advice that got me to Arizona for a long weekend of hiking and backpacking. I also get to stop work at 3 everyday to handle child care responsibilities until evening. I work about eight hours a day on average, though this includes evening hours which I find necessary to accommodate a large number of my clients. After 1/2 a Saturn cycle as a full-timer, I wish for free evenings and longer vacations. On the other hand, I do get to go to astrology conferences in different parts of the country to network, learn and do some social bingeing. But let's get into the nitty gritty of my job so you can really get a feel for it. Here's a typical day.
7:30: I'm in the middle of a gradual awakening and begin to process all sorts of things in my mind. I stagger to the kitchen, feed myself, take a shower (as a Cancer, I find the morning shower to be a wonderful experience), get dressed and then meditate for 20-30 minutes. Meanwhile, the phone in my office has rung 3 times but I let the answering machine pick up the messages.
9:00: The workday starts. I check the messages and first call back the only person of the three that I think I can handle this early in the morning. We talk briefly and schedule a one hour reading for next week. What a pleasure to speak to someone who can wait. I open some mail, do some accounting and then get up the nerve to call back the other two clients. The first one, Steve, is a real pain in the butt. He's wants me to be a part of his obsession with controlling the world. I dial his number and he answers.
"Hello Steve. This is Bruce. How can I help you today?"
"Hi. Well, my lawyer says that we can't get the date in court you suggested -- so could you give me two or three more dates during June?"
"Steve, I already gave you a few blocks of days that I thought would be suitable. I really don't think that there's going to be much that you could do during this period. Let's face it, you'll be having Saturn stationing square the ruler of your ninth house of legal matters and perhaps the best thing that can happen is that the trial will be delayed."
"It can't be delayed anymore. It's already been delayed. I want a day on which I can win the case."
"Steve. There's a real possibility that you'll lose. I can find, and I already did, dates on which things may go better for you, but these are in the context of a stressful period. You need to consider your life in a broader context now. You need to be ready to accept a loss. But really, you aren't going to lose your life over this, it's just a power struggle that you got yourself into. I can help you to understand how these things developed in your life, and I can help you schedule times to do certain things. But I can't change the nature of this particular situation and you can't either. You have to face this legal matter now and I think you'll get more out of it if you look on it as symbolic of your relationship problems in general."
"Bruce. I don't believe that. Now will you give me some good days for my lawyer?"
"Steve. I already did."
"Well I forgot what they were, please check them again for me."
"They're the 4th through the 8th, and the 20th through the 27th."
"OK. Now I've got two possible employees to hire and I want to know which one I should choose. I have their birthdays, though not the birth year of one of them."
(The call waiting signal beeps twice)
"Steve. You're asking me to decide someone's fate by astrology without providing me with their exact birthday. I don't like doing it and I really can't because I don't have the full data. Why don't you ask yourself how you feel about each one?"
"I want to hire the one that will stay the longest. Which do you think it will be?"
"Steve. I don't want to do this and I can't do it now. Look, I've got people to talk to that have made appointments and I need to prepare for their readings. I can't talk now."
"Then give me an appointment. How about today at 3?"
"I've got to pick up my son from school then."
(Meanwhile, the call waiting signal is beeping again)
"Steve, I'm going to take this call. Call me back at 11:45."
"I can't call then. How about 2?"
"That's not good for me. Wait."
(I take the next call)
"Hello. Oh hello Adrienne. Please hold, I'll be right with you."
"Steve. You can call me at 11:45 today. You can call me at 9:30 tomorrow. And, you need to send me another retainer. Make sure this one doesn't bounce."
"Ok. I'll call tomorrow. Bye."
(Now back to the other line)
Hello Adrienne. What's up today?"
It's my daughter. She's throwing up all over the house. She's having problems with her friends. My son is dating someone from a different religion. My husband keeps taking about divorcing me. My therapist won't see me anymore. What's going on?"
"I'd say you've got some big problems and I don't know what, if anything, I can do for you. Would you like to make an appointment? By the way, you do realize that you didn't call me for our last appointment which my records show was scheduled for Wednesday at 10 AM."
"Oh I'm very sorry. I'll pay you for it but I need to talk you as soon as possible. I'm feeling terribly depressed."
(call waiting beeps again)
"How about tomorrow at 11?"
"Are you sure you can't talk to me sooner?"
"That's it Adrienne. I'm busy and I can't just switch gears every minute and give my clients my best judgments. Do you want the time-slot?"
"Oh, OK. I'll call tomorrow."
10:30-11:00: After those two calls there were a few others which I let the answering machine take. I made a cup of tea and looked out the window. I did call back a few other people and set a few more appointments. Eventually, I was ready for my 11 o'clock reading.
11:00: This reading went well. My client was intelligent and responsible. He had done some spiritual training and some psychotherapy and had a good technical grasp of what I was saying. I drew a focus on his Sun/Pluto/Saturn T-square and how it was being activated by transiting Pluto and progressed Mars and discussed what to expect and how to handle it. We talked philosophically about changes and how his entanglements with others made them more difficult. After listening to his own ideas for a while I pointed out which ones might work the bests for him at this point in his life. We ended the session on an up-beat, and while I felt he was about to go through one hell of a time, I thought he seem mentally prepared.
12:05: I turn on my computer and write three letters. Two of them to persons with questions about Mesoamerican astrology and one of them a letter to a public official in support of a bill concerning land preservation. I'm interrupted twice by the phone and set one appointment and answer a question about scheduling for a regular client. I then batch load four sets of birth data, set the machine going and head to the kitchen for something to eat.
1:00: My client calls right on time and we get right into her love life. She's got a husband and two boyfriends and has given me the chart data for each of them. My desk is now filled with four natal charts, three composite charts and a stack of progressed charts, timed hits and aspectarians. A few months back I did a similar reading but now some things have changed and she wants my current take on the situation. After explaining again how she might want to look at her life situation from the perspective of all of this being her personal problem, we get into each individual relationship. As I make choice comments about each person in this scenario, I keep going back to her own insecurities that are shown in her Libra-Ascendant-Neptune configuration and her fears about being alone. I talk about her weak sense of self and identity and what she might do to operate better as an individual, so that the might have more success in cooperating. You've got to operate before you can cooperate, I always say. By the end of the reading, I feel that she's gotten what she wanted and I said what needed to be said. Maybe she'll hear me this time when I play back the tape.
2:15-2:55: I turn on the computer again and start to work on chapter 6 of a book on Mesoamerican astrology I'm working on. I do some editing and add a page of footnotes before I have to save the file and leave to pick up my son from school. The phone rang several times during this period but I didn't answer it. I about how I could use a secretary or even answering service, but I'm breaking even financially and can't afford it right now.
3:00-7:00: My son and I go bike riding. We stop at the post office and I put out and get some mail. Later, he watches some TV, I do some reading, play a little guitar and make a few calls. Then dinner.
7:30: I check my machine and find 8 calls. I get back to 6 people, set 3 appointments, answer a few questions and leave a few messages myself.
8:00-10:30: As usual on Mondays, Tuesdays and Thursdays, I do two readings, one at 8 and one at 9:30. Both of these go well and both call me on time. Every so often a client forgets to call on time and this sometimes creates a mess, though more often I find that my immediate adaptations allow me to get some other work done -- and sometimes I'm glad for a one-hour break. The first reading is for an established client who always pays me ahead of time. She's a smart business women and very interested in learning about herself and clarifying what she's going through. Between 9 and 9:30 I call some people back and take a few calls. (My clients have learned that I don't usually answer the phone on the evenings during readings) The second reading is a one year update for a client that calls me like clockwork every year at this time. She says very little, just lets me do the talking. At the end of the reading she says that my forecast last year was 80% accurate and that she found it very helpful.
10:40: After packaging the tapes for this evenings readings, I sit down with a technical work on the Paris Codex, one of the four surviving Maya pre-conquest books, and manage to concentrate for a half hour. Later, I call back some clients in California (they're time is earlier than mine) and go to bed.
Well, there you have it. My typical day. If I didn't have to make a living at astrology I probably be a lot pickier about who I read for. Overall, though, it was OK and probably better than a lot of other jobs. I really like most of my clients and I sincerely want to help them with their problems. There are a few that I'm trying to lose, however.