It’s written in the stars
IN A complex world, everyone wants answers and explanations – especially about themselves. So could it be our destinies are written in the stars? John Woodhouse talks to two astrologers who firmly believe heavenly forces are at work
"PEOPLE," says Georgina Spencer, "are always curious." True – and the thirst for self-understanding isn't always slaked by conventional means.
It's at that point people turn to Georgina and colleague Matthew Wyman.
The pair are astrologers, their North Staffordshire-based practice spreading its inter-planetary tentacles far and wide as the legions of bemused seek answers to those biggest of questions – "why am I here?", "where am I going in life?", "what is the real me?".
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Through elaborate charts and an intimate knowledge of the heavens, Georgina and Matthew will try to provide a little insight. In a world where seemingly everything can be route-mapped by science, they wonder why so many remain lost, searching for answers.
"There's so many things in a birth chart you can look at," says Matthew. "There's indications of life's purpose, what you see as your highest goal, what your talents and gifts are. We have lots of conversations about what's wrong with us and other people, but one of the things astrology can do is help us focus on what we're really good at. Sometimes we don't appreciate that.
"There may be an unexpressed bit of someone's birth chart – a bit that wants to come out. That insight may be all that someone needs to think 'if I change this or did that, then what I'm doing could be a whole lot more fulfilling'.
"Say someone's really intuitive," adds the 45-year-old, from Hartshill, "they've got the ability to see what somebody's really like, and the world goes 'no, that's a load of rubbish', so they've never had the confidence to let themselves do it, but of course it's a tremendous skill in all sorts of areas.
"Or sometimes someone comes in and says 'I'm an accountant', and you look at the chart and you don't see the chart of an accountant, you see the chart of somebody who needs to be doing something a lot less mainstream. Or vice versa – although you don't see that so often – there are more people stuck in the rat race than the other way round."
"Also," says Georgina, "if there's something that's particularly easy to a person, there's an assumption it's not that special, and actually getting someone to see that is quite powerful."
The pair, teachers by trade, set up their astrology business, Ho'oponopono (an ancient Hawaiian spiritual tradition, best translated into English as 'making what is right more right') three years ago. In a complex world, they were confident the numbers were out there to make it viable. And their hunch has been proved right.
Clients come from all walks of life. The majority are female but issues are common to both sexes, like the mid-life crisis. "Often people are at a point where they might start to reassess and think 'am I going in the right direction?'," explains Georgina, "'or do I want to do something completely different?'.
"Or it might be there's a particular event, like 'I'm looking to move house', or 'I'm planning to get married – when would be a good time?'."
"After birth chart readings," continues Matthew, "the second most common thing you do is looking what's going at a particular moment for a person.
"People might come back annually and say 'give me an overview of this year'. Or they might want to shed light on the recent past."
"When it comes to New Year and resolutions and that kind of thing," adds Georgina, aged 36, of Penkhull, "it can be a time of year when people start thinking 'well I'll have a look and see what's going on'."
"And birthdays," adds Matthew, "are a time where people will want to know about the year ahead."
But what if it's bad news? "You do see astrologers who come on and say 'oh, you're doomed!'," admits Matthew. "But if you say that to somebody, what good are you doing them?!"
"To us," says Georgina, "it's more about giving energy an outlet in positive ways."
U nsurprisingly, a good proportion of clients are hoping for an insight into relationships, addressing issues of compatibility.
"Often the question that people have about their own chart is around relationships," says Georgina. "That's often the thing that occupies people, the bit they feel needs work.
"You can combine two people's charts to make a chart for the actual relationship. What you're actually looking at then is a chart that doesn't actually exist apart from the fact those two people have come together. So that gives you a real insight into the relationship."
But Matthew and Georgina have one unbreakable rule – for relationship analysis they need the consent of both parties.
"We're very careful," says Matthew. "If somebody comes and says 'can you tell me about my relationship with my husband?', or 'I'm in love with this person, how do I get them?', we wouldn't take on that business."
"It's not about 'you're going to meet a tall dark stranger'," adds Georgina of astrology. "It's more 'this is the type of energy that is coming in and this is the area of life that it may affect'."
Parents too will approach the pair, seeking birth charts for children. "A chart might show how easy someone makes friends," says Georgina, "like when your child is going to nursery or school. Or when a child gets to school they may find they don't suit a mainstream education. So how does a parent deal with that?"
"What suits you might not suit your child," adds Matthew. "It's an incredibly useful tool for that."
But – and here's the big question – why should the position of the stars at the time of someone's birth affect the way they are?
"I suppose you could just as easily say why wouldn't it?" answers Georgina.
"If a scientist was in this room," adds Matthew, "they'd say 'well of course it can't – the gravitational pull from the midwife by the bed is greater than the gravitational pull of Pluto'.
"But actually physicists don't know what 99 per cent of the universe is.
"Our position is that what we find is it works and if someone doesn't believe in it and doesn't want to take advantage of it, we don't care!
"We know it's been profoundly useful for ourselves and that it's something that could do the same for other people."
"I suppose you've got a split," says Georgina. "You've got the people who are interested and who are curious or they know about sun signs, and then there's the naysayers who say 'why would you waste your time on this?'."
But it's clear that, despite the advances of science, there are, if anything, more looking for alternative answers to life's big puzzles.
"There's more interest than when started," says Matthew. "There's a lot of people coming round to the conclusion that the mainstream rules of the game just aren't working for them. That what we're sold in terms of 'go to school, get a job, earn money' just doesn't work for them, so anything that enables them to see the bigger picture and find some kind of meaning is one thing that astrology's really great for.
"What we can do by reading a birth chart is say what is unique about you, and that is so motivating for people. I think there's an absolute hunger for this kind of stuff. And I think that includes anyone who does anything vaguely New Age or spiritual.
"People are looking for things that provide meaning for them.
"They want to make a difference, and that's what we've got to offer by doing this work."
Both Matthew and Georgina developed an interest in astrology in their teens. "It's that curiosity," says Georgina, "finding out about yourself – it was a tool for that."
T hey've both studied for qualifications and, as well as one on one consultations, give readings via Skype ("a lot of my clients," says Matthew "are on the west coast of America because that's where this kind of stuff is almost mainstream") and also teach astrology at night classes at Heavenly Hypnosis in Shelton.
"You start with yourself," says Georgina, "and then you want to look beyond. The thing that immediately follows is you want to do it on everybody that you know! That's what we get in the classes we teach. We get people to start with their own chart and then their immediate response is 'I'm going to go home to try this on everybody else'!"
B ut one thing they won't entertain is horoscopes.
"They're a load of rubbish!" says Matthew. "If someone asked us to do it, we'd say 'no', because we can't.
"There are techniques, but it's very inaccurate and low down the list of what would be important to someone."
"When you look at the whole chart of a person," adds Georgina, "the sun is one part of a much bigger picture. All the Taureans out there are not the same. There may be shared characteristics, but there's so much else going on in the chart."
Because of its themes of reassurance and self-discovery, it's inevitable that much of modern astrology is a crossover into counselling, except without the build-up. "If you're a counsellor, it'd take several sessions to build up trust and for the person you're seeing to start revealing the issues bothering them," says Matthew. "But the thing about astrology is we cut straight to the chase – we go straight to what the chart says – 'you had a difficult childhood' or whatever.
"We're able to go straight to the heart of the matter in one consultation."
"There's a lot of trust in this as well," adds Georgina. "People have got to feel comfortable and confident. Starting off talking about 'these are your talents and these are your gifts and these are the things you're good at' is a way to gain someone's trust, and then you can start exploring some of the more difficult things."
No-one's denying astrology isn't multi-layered and highly complicated – all Matthew and Georgina can do is make sense of it in terms relevant to clients. "We try to skim the cream off the surface," says Matthew. "We try to pick out the things that stick out the strongest.
"There's this kind of spookiness," he adds, "where people recognise that actually this is a really precise and powerful description of me."
Certainly, their belief is that astrology, myth or reality, is helping people make sense of complex lives.
"We're not totally bothered about being right!" laughs Matthew. "You could say to me 'do you believe in astrology?', and I would say 'I don't know!'. But I think the possibilities it gives people in their lives are a lot more interesting than contemporary capitalism and consumerism."
"Because," adds Georgina, "that isn't working for people."
"So we're saying to people," concludes Matthew, "you might finds some satisfaction in going down this different route that you've never tried. If somebody chooses to do that, it doesn't matter if I'm making it up!
"We only live our lives according to what's accepted. If what the reality police like Brian Cox tell us is true our gravestones will read something like 'did nothing, wasn't conned'.
"If that's what people want on their gravestones, listen to Brian Cox. If they want 'let's try lots of interesting possibilities', then go and see an astrologer!"
For more information about consultations and classes go to www.ponoponoastrology.co.uk or contact email@example.com or firstname.lastname@example.org