Saturday, April 10, 2010

Half Right = Half Wit

I just got a post about a dude that wanted me to judge his "sidereal" chart even though I am a traditional astrologer who uses the Tropical Zodiac. The poster said that they thought it was really strange that the dude did enough research to think I was wrong, but still wanted me to do his chart.

I totally agree, which leads me into my other rant de jour, which is students that insist on arguing with me. Just this week I had to fire a student, who was without a doubt the absolute best student I have ever had in terms of their use of traditional sources, because they would not stop arguing with me.

What I found most bizarre about the situation was exactly the point the poster made, if I am so consistently wrong why would you want to study with me at all? Furthermore, if one, as student, is in the position to be able to decide that individual portions of what the teacher teaches are wrong, what do you need a teacher for?

I told this student that I am not insisting that my methods are infallible and I expect my students, after they finish my courses, to pursue their own idiosyncratic style. I don't follow my teachers exactly in my practice. However, when I studied with them, I followed their directions and did my level best to try to understand how they did what they did.

There are two levels of misunderstanding that students fall into. The first is not learning the rules, and the second is thinking that the rules are all there is to traditional astrology. Many students don't want to take the time to learn all the myriad of traditional techniques and methods. They will get nowhere as this is a necessary first step.

However, a more subtle trap is thinking that all that you need to do is look up techniques in our traditional sources which are the final arbiter. This is the mistake my rebel student made. First we master the rules, then we penetrate to the essence of traditional astrology which is grasping the pattern that is presented by an actual chart be it natal, horary, etc. This is not a pure academic discipline, this is the application of knowledge for a practical purpose, prediction of events in advance.

What the sources cannot teach, and what an actual teacher is vital for, is the situation where, after mastering the rules, you run up against an actual chart. We do not throw the rules away, but neither do we rely on them as the be all and end all of our practice. Each master of traditional astrology, while still working within the traditional system, develops some idiosyncratic methods. A master could be loosely defined as someone who has judged say 500 to 1000 actual charts using traditional methods.

Beyond this is the issue of respect for both the teacher and the tradition that they represent. Personally, I have very carefully checked out my teachers in advance, but once I decided they knew their stuff, I followed their directions. Of course they had personal faults, but I was always very appreciative of their knowledge and experience and of the fact that they were passing on this great tradition to me. I might ask for clarification of a point, but it simply never entered my head start an argument with a teacher. I can't really remember disagreeing with a teacher because how was I in a position really to think I was right? Beyond that, even if I did disagree, I would either keep it to myself or express myself in a very respectful manner. If I truly did disagree with a teacher I would really have to stop being their student.

I know that this goes very much against the grain of the modern mythos of EQUALITY. I very strongly agree with political and legal equality, but clearly when it comes to knowledge and experience we are not equal. This itself is a very traditional view and the traditional view of a student and teacher was of a master and disciple. Now this can obviously be abused, but personally I cannot function as a teacher with students that argue with me.

Traditional astrology is hard to learn. The rules are not easy to master and then trying to judge actual charts is even harder. It is difficult enough to teach when students are cooperating with me and doing their absolute best to work with me and understand what I am trying to teach. When a student refuses to accept what I have to teach and fights my methods, then teaching becomes impossible.

Trust is necessary. The student needs to trust that the teacher knows the subject and knows the best, or at least a workable way to teach the subject. If the student doesn't trust the teacher, and manifests this by arguing, then they really shouldn't be studying with them at all.

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