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The Astrologer's Newsletter - July/August 2008

New In This Issue

Last May a new piece of consumer law came into operation that could affect all UK astrologers. AA President Roy Gillett gives us an overview; plus, there's a review of Nicolas Campion's new book; and the full agenda of the Astrological Association's forthcoming AGM; and new data! . Plus all your favourites. Click away!


As I report in Comings & Goings, Barack Obama has published his birth certificate, which shows his recorded time of birth. While most astrologers are happy to see actual verified data for him at last, there have been disappointed mutterings from some quarters about how the certificate "has to be fake", because the time is nowhere near somebody's favourite rectified birth time (there have been at least six, according to Astrodatabank). I'm reminded of Saddam Hussein's execution, when one astrologer claimed that it must have been a double who was killed, as the execution wasn't shown in Saddam's (rectified) chart! Sorry folks, but real life has this habit of not doing what you'd like it to do.

It's true that hospitals and families often don't record birth times to the exact minute. But it's rare for a recorded time to be more than rounded up or down to the nearest quarter-hour; that means that a precise time - like Obama's 7:24PM - is more likely than not to be accurate. So if there's more than a few minutes' difference between a rectified time and a documented birth time, then no matter how 'right' it feels, itís the rectified time that should be discarded.

There's nothing wrong, of course, with taking a chart with an unknown time and speculating about possible times and ascendants; amongst other things, this is an excellent teaching tool. But it's entirely wrong to present a rectified chart as definitively correct and the last word on the subject. Nobody is free from bias and preferences, so all rectification carries the danger of imposing your ideas on the chart and its subject, rather than allowing the chart to speak for itself.

There's also another reason not to rely too heavily on rectified charts: "The bottom line is that we cannot validate our findings unless we can first validate our data."

This quote should hang above the desk of every astrologer. It is from Lois Rodden, the founder of Astrodatabank and the 'mother' of astrological data collecting. Her view was that the old computing maxim of GIGO - Garbage In, Garbage Out - applied equally to astrology; you simply cannot expect to get accurate results when relying on inaccurate data. And for accurate data, you have to seek out first-hand or documented sources, rather than rely on wishful thinking.

- Val Dobson