Perhaps the biggest challenge for a conscientious astrological writer is to communicate which arrangements of planets, houses, signs and aspects are meaningful to humanity as a whole and which are germane only to an individual.
Let me give a specific example. About 1970, Isabel Hickey wrote unequivocally in Astrology: A Cosmic Science, that if a man has Moon conjunct Saturn and the majority of his planets are in feminine signs, then he must be homosexual. I had no idea where the heck she got that. But the damage was done. One of my best friends at the time had that signature. He was so distaught, that he gave up the study of astrology. Although, I long had the sophistication not to believe everything that I read in books, my friend was not so lucky, You see, I, too have that signature-- as does my son. And all three of us are exclusively hetero.
I was not a fan of Mrs. Hickey's for this and other reasons. When my wife and I attended an astrology convention in 1983, we met a nice man who thought the world of Isabel Hickey. A quick look at his chart showed that he had the Moon conjunct Saturn and the majority of his planets in feminine signs. Before I got the chance to ask him how he felt being labeled as homosexual, it dawned on me that not only was he gay, but that his chart most likely was the template that Isabel Hickey had used. Putting two and two together, I concluded that Mrs. Hickey probably invented that rule on the spot just to make that man feel better about himself. So I'm sure that that signature worked for him, but not necessarily for anyone else.
So the astrological writer must be extremely careful not to allow an ad hoc signature to morph into something bigger.
I ran into a similar situation when I was giving a lecture. I frequently have the problem in which someone will take one of my off-hand remarks and try to make a federal case out of it. When I rectify a chart, I tend to single out what makes a person special, uncommon, or even unique. I like to take a solar chart and rotate it so that the most plausible combination of planets and houses is displayed. Then by using solar arcs, transits and progression, I'll adjust that chart to fit the timing of known events.
My paternal grandparents were both born in Ukraine. They were married 58-1/2 years from 1896 until my grandfather died in 1955. They had 7 children and outlived 4 of them. That is a rather uncommon fact. In dealing with my grandparents' charts, I developed an ad hoc signature for them. Both of my gransparents had charts that contained a group of four planets that were close enough to be put in the same house. That house would be the 12th because it is the 8th from the 5th. This is when people would confront me. I had to make things clear that if you have any planet in the 12th house, it does not mean that your child would die. However, if, God forbid, you were to outlive a child, then the astrological reasons would be known.
After I developed plausible charts for my grandparents, I corrected the birthtime based on known events, such as their emigration to the United States in November, 1913.
October 9, 2012, 8:13 p.m.