Astrology and Privacy
I am opposed to writing about the private lives of living authors and psychoanalyzing them while they are alive. Criticism is getting all mixed up with a combination of the Junior F.B.I.-men, discards from Freud and Jung and a sort of Columnist peep-hole and missing laundry list school…. – Ernest Hemingway
Famous people are perhaps to some extent public property. Thus we may be free to analyze George Bush’s or Mother Teresa’s public actions in public, yet we may not do the same with their private lives. And we should never analyze our next door neighbors without their permissions. Private people have the right to keep their birth data private, there should be no breaches in this.
If we use private persons’ birth data, for instance for teaching or research purposes, their privacy must still be protected. And using the data must be done with good taste and with discrimination, without intruding anyone’s privacy and without concentrating on dirty linen. We should also remember that every delineation – even when done without the native being consciously aware of it – is an intrusion into the native’s psychic energy field.
Although good astrologers try to avoid intrusions into people’s private lives any way they can, there are always some rotten apples in every profession. And there are cases where it is hard to know where to draw the line between good ethics and questionable practices. In most cases, the golden rule of treating others as you would like to be treated is a good guideline, but we should also remember that others may want more privacy than we do.
ASTROLOGICAL VOEYURISM ?
Always this same morbid interest in other people and their doings, their privacies, their dirty linen, always this air of alertness for personal happenings, personalities, personalities, personalities. Always this subtle criticism and appraisal of other people, this analysis of other people’s motives. … – D. H. Lawrence
Everything the client tells the astrologer is naturally confidential, we all agree in this. A good astrologer should never discuss a private person in public in a way that would make her or him recognizable, unless the astrologer has the permission to do so. But what about analyzing acquaintances of your friends, when your friend asks you to do it? Some astrologers even claim that this is done by everybody. Or that if it is done tastefully and only for friends you know very well and trust, you may do it. If you can help your friend by doing it, you should do it.
But should you? How many of us can truly know how the information will be used. And how are we to know what kind of effect the analysis may have on the person being analyzed. Perhaps he or she is a psychically sensitive person who feels the psychic intrusion stressful even without knowing that he or she is being dissected by an astrologer and her or his friend? Are we doing right if we use our expertise to help our friend to intrude into private lives of other people. I think not.
This practice always involves a risk: The friend asking an analysis about the other person may use the analysis in ways we will know nothing about. We may not know what kind of problems our delineation will cause to the person delineated. There will always be people who like to manipulate or dominate others any way they can, but an astrologer should never be the one to give such people weapons. Not even if those people are the astrologer’s personal friends. We may believe – and at least we want to believe – that we know our friends well enough to be sure that they don’t misuse the information they get. But do we always know? Even if we have their horoscopes to help us, do we still truly know?
And even if we know our friends, is it right to intrude into unknown people’s personal lives that way. Of course our friends are free to study astrology themselves and then to analyze their relationships through astrology. But that is another thing, it takes a long time to learn astrology well enough. Once they are proficient, they will hopefully have learned to put astrological information into right perspective, and also to use it with good ethics. But if your friends get ready-made analyses from you without any personal studies, they may not feel responsible for the use of the information they get.
In any case, there is much idle curiosity in studying charts of everyone around. Curiosity is a fine thing in itself but it should be kept in check; every time we use astrological charts just as peepholes, we should be extremely conscious of our ethics. And even more so when others try to use our astrological expertise for that purpose. Some astrologers wanting to be sure that friends or acquaintances do not misuse them, do not delineate any charts for other persons than their clients; some do it but only if they first get written consents from people they are going to analyze. And for instance Maarit Laurento does the analysis only if those persons first phone her. These are all excellent practices.
VIOLATIONS OF PRIVACY
The human animal needs a freedom seldom mentioned, freedom from intrusion. He needs a little privacy. – Phyllis McGinley
Well-meaning but gullible astrologers doing analyses of unknown persons for their friends asking for “help” may do considerable harm without knowing it. For instance in a case told by one of Anyara’s visitors a family member manipulated and tried to control the whole family using astrological interpretations he got from his astrologer, naturally without a permission from the family. Everyone in the family was angry but helpless to do anything. All my sympathies lied with the family, of course, but all I could do was to say that the family should not take seriously one word coming from the mouth of an astrologer with such bad ethics.
Such intrusions seem to be quite common in some astrological internet discussion groups, where privacy issues are often violated without moderators doing anything about it. I have many times been quite appalled seeing, for instance, people falling in love and publishing their lover’s birth data asking the group to analyze the potential lover and the relationship, and usually without the lover knowing anything about it. And this happens in a public forum! I see this practice as a deplorable breach of privacy.
And even worse things happen in the discussion groups. Recently I was horrified seeing how somebody gave full birth data of a child for an astrology group asking group members to look at the chart as an example of an “extremely bad character”. And there was a long list of negative characteristics describing the child in question. This happened in a public forum and apparently without permission of the child or the parents. The child’s name was not mentioned, but we all know that full birth data is usually enough to identify the person.
How would the child react if she some day found herself dissected this way by astrologers. Or how does the child feel now? Knowing Neptune we also know that such a public labelling and dissecting – even if done without names and without the target knowing consciously anything about it – has an effect on the target. How would the child’s parents feel. And what about skeptics occasionally visiting astrological discussion groups? It is human to react negatively to astrology if you see an innocent child dissected that way. It is human to be disgusted seeing such a violation of a child’s psychic privacy.
Another sometimes quite questionable practice is analyzing children’s charts for their parents. It is not easy to know where to draw a line age-wise, but at least older children should have their privacy intact. Otherwise, how does the astrologer, perhaps without any psychological training, know how the parent is going to use the information? Is it going to help the parent to understand the child better? Or does it just help the parent to manipulate and to control the child? Would the child thank the astrologer for giving that power to the parents? I know cases where an over-possessive mother has been using unsuspecting and well-meaning professionals to help her to manipulate the child in a definitely harmful way.
Even in friendships we should be very conscious of our ethics. For instance, it may never be wise to offer chart interpretations without being asked to. If you see something in the friend’s chart, you should think twice – or many times – before offering your enlightening observations – or imaginings – unasked. Seeing something doesn’t mean that you should necessarily say it aloud, at least unless you are quite conscious of your own motives and know for sure that the information would truly be helpful and that your friend would gladly receive it.
Otherwise, let rather your friends and your acquaintances keep their self-images intact, if they haven’t asked you to tamper with their personalities. “No one has any justifiable right to influence the way a man sees himself”, said a Finnish writer, Elina Karjalainen. In any way, there are usually enough of those who ask us to analyze them. Let us concentrate on them. And even in those cases let us remember, that honesty may be the best policy in many things, but in relationships tact is also an excellent policy. And there is a big difference between honesty and psychic intrusion and manipulation.
Every delineation that occurs, whether or not it is overt to the conscious mind, implies a discrete sharing of energy between counselor and those counseled … It is necessary for the astrologer to ask and receive the permission of the native to penetrate his or her aura for a time. … This permission cannot be assumed, and must be granted in order for total harmony to exist. – Philip Sedgwick