Copied with permission from Wendy Guy, www.EvolvingDoor.ca
Good news and bad news….
How do you know if an astrologer is right for you? Everyone wants something a bit different. What is perfect for your friend may be totally wrong for you. Astrologers are different too. There are always variations in what each one does, since we all bring our unique perspective on life to what we do. And to complicate things, there are some people who may not have your best interests at heart.The good news is that probably most of the astrologers out there are legitimate, serious astrologers. Their skill and experience in astrology or business may vary somewhat, but their intentions are honorable and they want to give you the best service they can.
Unfortunately, there are some people who claim to be serious astrologers but their actions and policies suggest otherwise. At best, they may have little experience or knowledge in astrology, or they simply aren’t able to provide the kind of reading you’re looking for. At worst, they’re only interested in getting your money, not in providing a genuine or quality service. Sadly, these people also give legitimate, serious astrologers a bad name that is not deserved.
The suggestions below are intended to help you gauge whether an astrologer might be right for you. This is not an exhaustive list. You’ll find some of the more common and important things to watch for, which could help you tell if something about them isn’t adding up. You’ll also find some suggestions and ideas to think about when considering an astrologer.
Avoid problems ~ be very cautious if…
The offer sounds too good to be true.
The old saying still holds up – if it sounds too good to be true, it probably is. A lot of ads promote readings that are free or for a ridiculously low price. Are they for real? Sort of. Maybe. Some astrologers do give introductory offers for a very low price, hoping you will be interested enough to buy their higher priced services. Typically what you actually get for free or a super low price is only a brief interpretation printout that is often greatly oversimplified or over-generalized. Some legitimate astrologers use this as a marketing strategy to attract potential clients. Unfortunately, this tactic is also used by some questionable astrology services. Just remember that you get what you pay for. Don’t expect a serious, in-depth reading for nothing.
Your credit card is charged more than the price you agreed on, OR you get unexpected extra charges.
This should be taken very seriously! Contact the person or service right away and ask them about this. If they are ethical, they will readily give you a clear explanation. There are usually three possibilities:
- It was a mistake. Mistakes do occasionally happen (astrologers are human too). The person or service should give you a sincere apology and offer to refund the overpayment or reverse the charge as soon as possible. If it happens more than once, you should probably consider it a red flag that they may be unethical or their business skills might be lacking.
- It was part of the “fine print” in their service fees that you missed. In this case, they should explain clearly what that is and how you should have known about it. If you feel this was unfair or not adequately explained up front, they may or may not agree to give you a refund. Be sure to find out what’s in the “fine print” before you buy. If you’re not clear about it, ask.
- It was an unethical or fraudulent charge. This is the situation you really want to avoid. Doing some investigating about the astrologer and/or the reading service before you buy is a good way to minimize your chance of running into problems like this.
What to do: Contact the person or service first and give them a chance to explain or make it right. If you honestly feel the charge was put through deceptively or fraudulently, contact your credit card company right away (or whoever you made the payment through). For example, some credit card companies will refund your payment and block any further charges to your card from that person or business.
Bottom line: You have the right to know, clearly and up front, what charges will be made to your credit card and when, and what you can expect in return. After all, you are trusting them with your money (and often your credit card information) and they should live up to that trust.
They are wishy-washy or inconsistent about how much something will cost.
This doesn’t necessarily mean there is a real problem or that the person isn’t ethical. However, if the person or service can’t be clear about what they will charge you, this should be considered a poor business practice at best. If you aren’t comfortable with the terms as they are given to you, even after telling them you find them confusing, you might want to consider whether this is the best astrologer for you.
The person says they can remove a curse from your money.
This is often regarded as a very bright red flag that can indicate the person isn’t on the up-and-up. Many scam artists use this premise to take large amounts of your money, which of course you never see again.
On the other hand, there are some spiritual or religious traditions that do sometimes use ritual or prayer to help you achieve success in your life, and some of their practitioners do charge for these services. So in all fairness, offering a service like this doesn’t necessarily make it a scam; however, you should proceed only with great caution.
It’s best if you’re quite familiar with the spiritual tradition they claim to be aligned with, so you can gauge if they’re authentic or not. If you’re not familiar with their tradition, you might want to think twice about using this person’s services – at the very least, find out more about it from someone you trust, before you give someone a significant amount of money or your credit card information.
They use high pressure or scare tactics to get you to buy.
It’s very common for business people to advertise their services and products to previous customers. They should remove you from their advertising list if you request it. However, if they come across like a used car salesman trying to sell you a junk heap, you might want to think twice about whether they’re the right astrologer for you. If they make outlandish promises or apply high pressure or fear tactics to get you to buy, you’re wise to skeptical.
For example, if the person insists you have a spectacular opportunity coming up that will never come again, but won’t provide anything more specific without a payment, a reality check is strongly advised. In the same way, if they warn about horrendous events that will destroy your life if you don’t get more details from them, but they demand a payment before giving any more information, this should be treated as a warning that their approach is a scare tactic, not an ethical promotion.
It is the “over the top” exaggeration of their claims that raises the red flag of caution. Also, the wording in these kinds of notices is usually so general and vague that there is nothing there that relates to you personally. It’s a form letter that could have been sent to anyone (and in some cases, probably was). If they’re not willing to provide any further information up front that is clearly about you or your chart, it’s wise to treat it with great caution at best.
The astrologer/client boundary is crossed or confused.
The question of boundaries is a sensitive one, for many reasons. Some astrologers feel strongly that, like anyone else in the helping fields, the relationship between astrologer and client should remain professional and not become personally intimate. For some, this includes dating and sex, or even just feeling like they’re coming on to you. Others feel that as long as everyone is a consenting adult then it’s okay to overlap boundaries. On the other hand, attractions do happen so what do you do? Should friendship be considered crossing boundaries?
These are complex and sometimes controversial questions. There’s no one easy answer that covers all situations. However, the final word is this: if you feel uncomfortable about anything, you have the right to say no and have that respected. This goes for anything from intimate advances to what you talk about in the reading. If something comes up that you’d rather not talk about, tell them. If they refuse to honour your request, you have the right to end the reading if it comes to that. Remember: the reading is for you, not the astrologer.
Tips to find the right astrologer for you….
The key to getting a fulfilling and helpful reading is to know what you want, and to get to know the astrologer and the kind of services they offer. Here are some questions and qualities you might want to consider about a prospective astrologer.
What do you want from the reading?
One size does not fit all. If you’re not sure what you’re looking for, it increases the chance you will not be satisfied with what you get. Different astrologers have different specialties and take different approaches, so it’s important to have an idea of what you’re looking for so you can let your astrologer know. Don’t be afraid to talk honestly with them. A reading isn’t supposed to be a guessing game, nor should you expect them to be a mind reader. And since astrology can manifest in many different ways, specific concerns can’t always be seen in the chart.
For example, do you want to know about a relationship? Are you looking for month-to-month prediction? Do you want a fresh perspective that will help you with personal or spiritual growth? Are you looking to understand yourself better using a psychological approach? Do you need advice about a specific area, like investments or health? Are you just curious about what your chart says about you? Is there a certain topic you hope they will touch on? If you’re not sure what you want, ask yourself how you want to feel after the reading. Do you want to feel inspired? Hopeful? More confident? Relieved? If so, about what in particular?
What is their approach to astrology and doing readings?
One way to find out is to have a look around their website, blog or Twitter/Facebook discussions. Do you relate to what they write? For example, do they state firmly “this is what will happen,” or do they offer multiple possibilities of how something could manifest? Are they cut-and-dried, taking a “do or do not; there is no try” attitude, or are they more encouraging and reassuring? Do they see predestination in the chart, or the potential of what we can do with our free will?
There’s no one right answer; no single style works for everyone. Some people want someone who will cut through the BS and tell it like it is, even if they don’t want to hear it. Others want someone who can be gently supportive and help them explore what works best for them. This is why it’s important to have a sense of what you’re looking for, and to listen to how you feel about the approach they take.
What is their policy regarding confidentiality, privacy and other concerns?
Do they have a policy of confidentiality about anything that is discussed between you? In some regions and countries, any professional person may be required by law to notify authorities if they believe someone is in danger or a felony has or will be committed. However, beyond legal obligations, privacy and confidentiality is very important.
Will the astrologer do a reading for you about another person? (e.g. your spouse or child) Many astrologers don’t have a problem with this, whereas others may request that you have the other person’s permission first.
There are many ethical issues you might want to ask the astrologer about, if you’re concerned. The National Council for Geocosmic Research (NCGR) has compiled a code of ethics for astrologers, which their members are expected to abide by. Although not all astrologers belong to that organization, most astrologers do strive to follow many of these guidelines. In particular, confidentiality is usually considered paramount. If you have concerns about any issues in particular that you want to be sure will be held in confidence, talk to them about it.
What’s their background in astrology?
Astrological learning: Many astrologers studied astrology long before they started doing formal readings. Some astrologers, especially older ones, are largely self-taught since astrology schools and courses weren’t as common 30+ years ago.
Accreditation and associations: There are many accomplished and talented astrologers who are neither formally educated or accredited in astrology. Those who do have formal training or certification may be associated with one or more recognized astrological organizations and schools throughout the world (far too many to list here). This may or may not affect your decision to get a reading with them, but will give you a bit more information about them.
Activities: Do they lecture or facilitate workshops? Do they teach classes? Have they published any books or articles? Do they have a website or a blog? Are they involved in research? Again, these questions will help you get a sense of the kind of approach they are likely to take in your reading.
Other education: Complementary education might be a plus if you’re looking for a particular specialty or approach. For example, it could be helpful if a medical astrologer also has training in the conventional or alternative health fields. Or, personal experience with real estate or other investments, if that is your topic of interest. Or, someone with a psychology or counseling background, if you want to focus on self-growth, self-empowered, addiction recovery, etc.
What kinds of readings?
Reading format: Do they offer live in-person readings? What about live phone readings? Written email readings, or dictated onto a CD or tape? Readings by Internet chat? Are they available on Skype? Will they cover telephone long distance charges? Do they provide a recording of your session, and if so, how will you get it? If the reading is written, did they write it specifically for you or is it from a computer program? If in-person, can you bring a friend with you?
Type of reading: Do they offer predictive/forecast readings? Will they do just a natal reading if you don’t want forecasting? How about specific techniques, like Progressions, Solar Arcs, Solar Returns, Relocation charts, Synastry or Composite relationship readings, etc? Do they offer sample readings? (Note: quality sample readings are almost never free.)
What and how do they charge?
If they’re an independent astrologer (not part of a service), what are their prices and what can you expect for the price you pay? How will you pay? (e.g. credit card, Paypal, cheque, etc.) Since astrologers usually do considerable preparation before the reading, they may ask for payment up front. Independent astrologers often charge a flat rate for a reading. If you’re a frequent client, some astrologers ask for a retainer so they can provide impromptu consultations without payment concerns delaying their response time.
Are they part of a reading service? Some astrologers work as part of a service, and you pay the service instead of the astrologer directly. These services often charge on a strict per-minute basis. (See details about online reading services below.)
Negotiating about the price: Although some astrologers may be open to negotiating a lower price, many—perhaps most—are not. It’s tempting to think that since Sun sign horoscopes are usually free, therefore astrology is a cheap commodity. What you don’t see is the preparation time that goes into your reading before you even sit down with them. And in whole or in part, this is our living that pays for food, shelter, etc. It’s a bit like your boss saying s/he wants you to work today for half of what you’re usually paid. Some astrologers might offer a sliding scale in certain circumstances. If price is a great concern for you then ask about it, but it’s best not to just assume that negotiating the price is an option.
Do they offer a refund or guarantee? Refunds are not usually offered by astrologers. The reason is that a reading is a customized service just for you, which includes a considerable time investment by the astrologer. It’s not like returning a jacket of the wrong size to the store where they can resell it to someone else. If you really feel you didn’t get your money’s worth, talk with the astrologer about it. If you feel you’ve been truly ripped off and can’t get satisfaction from the astrologer or their service, contact your credit card company (or whoever you paid through).
As for guarantees, no one can really promise that a prediction will come true. Neither can they guarantee that something won’t happen just because a forecast has made you aware of the possibility. This really gets into a philosophical discussion about predestination and free will, which is beyond the scope of this article. However, if the astrologer offers a money-back guarantee if their prediction doesn’t come true, that’s different. If that is the case, make sure you know ahead of time what the terms are before assuming you would be able to collect.
Important considerations about online reading services.
The up side.
There are many websites that present a variety of people who do online astrology and other reading services, including Tarot, psychic and other divination techniques. Most of these are a legitimate business and provide astrologers and other readers with a platform to earn an honest living. Many of these multi-reader websites charge on a per-minute basis, allowing very little preparation time for the reader. Find out what’s involved in joining this kind of service. Is there a membership fee, or a certain amount of time or credits you must buy in advance? What happens to any prepaid unused time?
This kind of reading format isn’t for everyone. It may or may not give you the kind of reading experience you’re looking for. It can be good if you want some quick information, suggestions or advice without having to book an appointment in advance. However, it’s not always the best venue if you want an in-depth exploration of potential or personal issues, especially if you are communicating through text chat (which can feel impersonal and awkward if you’re not fast on a keyboard). It’s still usually possible to get some helpful insights from this kind of reading.
The down side.
Unfortunately, these kinds of reading services are also used sometimes by people and businesses whose service quality and business practices have been criticized as questionable or worse. There have been some reports of high pressure scare tactics and even unapproved charges on the client’s credit card.
In addition, what you see is not always what you get. In some cases, the website or readings claim to be the work of someone who, in reality, doesn’t exist – they’re a fictional character created for marketing purposes. This may or may not mean the services are also questionable, but it’s wise to be careful and find out a bit about who you’re dealing with. These businesses might just be playing a bit “fast and loose” with otherwise legal business practices or, at worse, they might have dishonest intentions.
The keyword is caution. Buyer beware. Google can be a useful resource when looking for more information about websites, astrologers or reading services that you’re not sure about or whose policies you’re not comfortable with. Also, do some homework and find out what recourse you have if something goes wrong. For example, get to know your credit card company, bank, Paypal, etc – will they intervene if you ever feel you are being wrongly charged?
It’s always a good idea to find out more about any person and/or service that offers the readings. Ask around astrology hangouts (forums, Facebook, local astrology groups, etc) and see if anyone has had any experience with them or knows anything about them. The suggestions above will also give you an idea of the kinds of things to ask about.