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Bad Moments with Clients

Master’s Musings, July 2022

Steven Forrest
As you’ve undoubtedly seen, the techniques of evolutionary astrology are robust. They work reliably well. They produce accurate insights. Trust them and they won’t fail you. But for a variety of different reasons, it’s unlikely that 100% of your clients will be satisfied. Some of that might be your own fault – none of us can rule out making mistakes. But certainly some of it will stem from issues that the clients themselves bring to the table. Inevitably you are going to encounter some bad moments, so it’s good to be prepared emotionally to weather them. Naturally they are miserable experiences. In becoming a professional astrologer, that’s just something you have to accept. It won’t happen often, but sooner or later, it will almost certainly happen.
Before I dive into all of that, here’s a little perspective: I’ve lost track of how many thousands upon thousands of readings I have done over the years. In all that time, I can honestly say that 99% of the feedback I’ve gotten has been positive and gratifying. That hard 1% can really sting though, and that’s my subject in this newsletter. 


One more point of perspective before we look the devil in the eye: practice makes perfect. You’ll get better at your craft as time goes by.

That’s at least one way that being an astrologer beats being a professional athlete or a teenage idol – age and experience are nothing but good news.  That means that there’s a pretty good chance that any negative scenarios are more likely to happen early in your astrological career – sadly, we might add the fact that that’s when you least need them because you are still trying to build confidence in yourself. 
Stick with it no matter what happens – that’s really the bottom line.
Once, probably around 1990, I did a recorded reading for a woman in New York City. I knew very little about her and I had never met her. A week later I got a scathing phone message from her telling me that I “should be ashamed of myself.” She sounded crazy with rage. She never mentioned the precise nature of my transgression, so I have no idea what her beef with me was.  I’d done the work using the same tried and true techniques that had produced helpful results with crowds of other people. I thought of calling her back. I never did. That was a judgment call, and I think it was the right one. My guts told me we’d just upset each other even more. Maybe I had already done enough harm. Maybe she had too. 
I guess that was the worst experience I’ve ever had with a client. Nothing like that has ever happened before or since.
Clients of mine once bought a reading for the local Chief of Police. They were friendly with him and thought he might like a session with me. He was quiet during the consultation, but we seemed to be getting along just fine. Later, through those clients, I learned that “he had no idea what I had been talking about.” That wasn’t actually a “bad moment” in terms of our interaction, which was pleasant enough, but it made me sad when I finally heard about it. 
Probably that kind of “disconnect” has happened more than once without me knowing it. I just wish the man had mentioned something – asked for clarification or said there was something he didn’t understand. If I had known, I might have been able to build a better word-bridge to him. But I didn’t know – my (mis)impression was that he was following me just fine.

The take-away: an astrological counseling session is a joint act of creativity. Both you and your client have to participate. It’s not your fault if clients don’t hold up their end of the deal. You cannot know what they do not tell you. All you can do is do your best.

Years ago, in my office in North Carolina, a woman came to sit with me for a birthchart analysis. She was from a very “blue blood” Southern family, held her nose high, and was probably the most argumentative person I’ve ever met in my life. I couldn’t say anything right. All her sentences – most of which were interruptions – started with the word “No.” I endured the misery  for maybe half an hour. Finally I told her that the process was obviously not working between us – that we were “on different wavelengths.” I invited her to leave and of course I mentioned that there would be no charge. It wasn’t like I was angrily “throwing her out of my office.” I was polite – just call me “Mister I’m OK, you’re OK.”
The result was a transformation. She became courteous and receptive. She urged me to continue. By the time our session was over, everything was fine between us. We hugged.
Two take-aways from that story.

To this day, I have no idea what was going on with that woman. Often that’s the case. People bring their invisible histories into the counseling room. Maybe they have some psychological need to put you in a no-win situation. That says more about them than it does about you or your level of skill.

You’re not a dancing monkey doing astrology tricks. If a relationship with a client isn’t feeling comfortable to you, you have as much right to terminate it as does the client. Maybe you’ll both be better off.

Another woman came to me. There were a lot of unresolved family dynamics in her chart. Unlike the Police Chief, she was wonderfully forthcoming about everything – her father had shamed her and tyrannized her. In following up on what she had told me, I casually mentioned that her father “thought that she was no good.” She immediately objected and said, “No! My father thought that I wasn’t good enough.” The distinction seemed like a nuance to me, but it was important to her. Naturally from that moment on, I used her wording – and I guarantee that had I stubbornly persisted in my original phrasing, my story with that client would have been another tale of a “bad moment.”
Words matter, but they often have different meanings to different people. Listen to your client and let their vocabulary guide you.
I also want to contrast this “not good enough” story with my session with the Chief of Police – the former is an example of a client actually holding up her end of the bargain, not leaving me in the dark playing guessing games.
You never know where the minefields are. I spoke with a client in her late twenties about her 11th house Neptune, emphasizing an ever-increasing need for some kind of inner practice and the benefits to her of some manner of sangha. As always, I mentioned that if we don’t get something right, we’ll surely get it wrong. I told her that her Neptune, if she didn’t take care of it, could trigger a pattern of escapism later in life, or perhaps even something “spacey” – something that might resemble dementia.
She immediately burst into tears. Turns out her father had just been diagnosed with early-onset dementia and she was terrified it might happen to her. Boom! There’s me, stepping on a psychological landmine. They are always there, but you never know exactly where. The client and I worked through it, and all in all, I think it was a good experience for her – but you’ve got to be ready for anything. People don’t have a list of their emotional triggers tattooed to their foreheads. As astrologers, we are always feeling our way through the darkness. We have to accept that. Your ace in the hole is that everything in astrology has a higher purpose and can be gotten right. With that client whose dad had dementia, I underscored that I didn’t “see dementia in her chart” – it was not that simple. What I saw was that dementia was one possibility if she didn’t aim that Neptune toward the higher ground. And she could! So I reinforced the higher meaning of the configuration, and her path to realizing it.


The take-away: empowerment in the face of truth – that’s our Holy Grail. We never shy away from the truth, but we never forget that everything has a purpose and that no one has a chart that they are inherently doomed to get wrong.

A very Piscean/Neptunian gentleman came to me. I immediately began speaking of spirituality, psychic phenomena, and so on. He cut me off, professing atheism and his belief that death was strictly “lights out.” That practically stopped me in my tracks. Then, to my dismay, I noticed an active 5th house in his chart – and I immediately wondered if he was wasting all that Neptunian energy on sex, drugs, and rock’n’roll. In a last ditch effort to save the day, I brought up creativity. And he lit up. So did I – and I realized that, for him, creativity was his spiritual path. Neptune basically boils down to some kind of “trance work” in which we establish conscious contact with the larger self. Mystics do that, but so do artists – where does their inspiration come from? This Piscean fellow is the one who taught me that principle – he did, or maybe angels whispered it in my ear to save me from another “bad moment with a client.”

The take-away: don’t lock yourself in a cage of verbal concepts. Try to find the language that works for your client. Creativity can be a path of inner work. So can dream work. In the same vein, love doesn’t have to be sexual or romantic – never forget friendship when you are speaking to a client in the Venus tribe. Capricorn’s “Great Work” does not always need to take the form of a career.

Maybe at some point in the past you came to a painful realization about your family. Maybe you had a past-life recollection that left you shaking. These are common enough psychological experiences. Why do they happen when they do? Astrologically, we know that there will likely be some Plutonian correlation for them – but what does that mean in plain English? Here’s the answer: that you were ready. It was time. You were strong enough. There’s a corollary – a year before, you were not ready. Before today, your psyche was committed to defending you against that information, and that was for your own good. When a client reacts defensively or seems to grow numb or unreactive, you may very well have hit upon something he or she is just not ready to deal with.

The take-away: when you see those “boundaried” verbal or body-language signals, don’t press the point. Just move on. Always remember what Uncle Hippocrates suggested: first do no harm.

Once I was invited to speak over a weekend to the Fellows in Andrew Weil’s Integrative Medicine program at the University of Arizona, Tucson. There were maybe fifteen people in the group, all of them already MDs, all wide-open spiritually and every one of them brilliant. I was doing little mini-readings for them, going around the table, trying to give them each a quick personal taste of what evolutionary astrology could do. There were plenty of “oohs and ahhs” and I heard  “that’s amazing” a few times – except for one poor woman, who kept shaking her head and saying. “No, I’m sorry, that’s not really me at all.” She was wonderful – I could tell it was hurting her not to be more agreeable, but she wasn’t going to lie to us: what I was saying about her simply was not meaningful to her. Obviously it was awkward for me – a classic  “bad client moment,” for sure. All I could do was apologize and move on to the next person, and the next, and the next. All of those readings went well. At the end of Day One, I had batted 14 for 15 – not too shabby.
The next morning as we gathered again, the woman piped up right away. Her words were among the sweetest ones I’ve ever heard. She said, “I’m so sorry about this, but I just spoke with my mother last night. It turns out that she gave me the wrong time of birth. My chart was wrong.”Sitting with a group of scientists, this was the best conceivable news. What they all saw – and what is the truth of the matter – was that if you give me good data, evolutionary astrology triumphs. But if you give me bad data, it fails. Garbage in, garbage out. Quod erat demonstrandum. From a scientific perspective, this one failure was a gift from the gods.

The take-away: if you are having a bad moment with a client, always consider the possibility that you have been given erroneous birth data.

When I was seventeen and getting interested in astrology, I asked my mother what time I had been born. She told me “6:15 in the morning.” I was actually born at 3:22 AM – but I weighed six pounds fifteen ounces. If I had known more about our craft back then, I would have felt that astrology was bogus – that it was failing me utterly. Me? Sagittarius rising and a massive first house? Forget about it. Again I would have given up on it. Angels used my own ignorance to protect me. 
Never forget: inaccurate birth information is our Achilles’ Heel. It’ll give you a “bad moment” every time. And that will not be because you are a bad astrologer. This is sort of a delicate point, but it is an important one. If a session is not going well, there are many possible reasons for that. One of them is that you were given the wrong time of birth. But of course another is that you just aren’t doing a very good job. Then there is the possibility of defensive issues in the client – basically all the things we’ve been exploring in this newsletter.


The take-away: when you are having a bad moment with a client, don’t be too quick to blame yourself for it. There may be something else going on. Stay neutral and run through the check list. And above all, trust the symbols.

Steven Forrest
July 2022