Sunday, July 4, 2010

The Tarot Tributary- A Salute to Astrology... Astrologer Michael Symms

RD: What brought you to the world of Astrology?

I had always had an interest in astrology, read books, etc., but never could really grasp a coherent understanding of what it was all about, what it could do, how you could practice it. Everything I read was full of “this means that” – much of it either clichéd or confusing, even contradictory.

My deeper study of astrology began in 2006 and took a quantum leap when I discovered the teachings of Noel Tyl in the fall of that year; much to my surprise, I quickly found myself understanding his methods of analysis and finding it repeatedly and powerfully verified in my own horoscope and life as well as those of family and friends. From the beginning, his techniques and his teaching thereof just resonated within me to a remarkable degree…and at a very deep, visceral level. I began participating in weekly vocational exercises he conducted on his public website early in 2007, did well, caught his eye and received his encouragement; not long after, he contacted me directly. Soon after, I was enrolled in his certification course and he has been a wonderful and extremely supportive mentor and teacher ever since.

I was inspired to a more serious study of astrology in a quest to understand a difficult and major turning point in my life that occurred in late 2005. And, thanks to Noel Tyl, I have found my way in astrology and, I strongly believe, my true calling.

RD: For those who are not familiar with astrology, can you describe the study?

There is a veritable plethora of astrological methods and techniques, and in fact much debate and - quite frankly - open conflict among astrologers regarding its “proper” practice. Let me set that aside and simply summarize and outline the study of astrology as I have learned from my brilliant and accomplished teacher:

I practice astrology that is aligned with psychological need theory. The relationships between the planets (including the luminaries; the Sun and Moon – and yes, including Pluto) in our solar system based on our locational perspective at the moment of our birth coincides fascinatingly with the imprint of who we are at birth and the initial conditions we are born into. As we project the horoscope through time (using solar arcs, transits and secondary progressions), we so very often find an amazing expression of the astrological symbolism synchronized with the actual developments in our life. The horoscope gives us tremendous insight into who we are and how we came to be that way. Human development coincides with horoscope development; planetary projections. We can draw many reliable suggestions from the horoscope about developmental dynamics; parental issues, self image, self esteem, sexuality and much more, even optimal vocational channels. This opens up the astrologer and the client to an enriching discussion that can be beneficial and therapeutic in any number of ways. Looking forward, we can project times of probable opportunity, success or challenge, and even potential health threats. Ideally, this will strengthen the client’s ability to cope with life’s challenges and enable them to position themselves strategically for future success.

RD: Being a protégé of Noel Tyl, what separates your education from that of many other astrologers?

Noel Tyl is a gifted teacher, but one thing that stands out to me is that he teaches us how to use the astrology to help real people in real time. We are required to demonstrate our ability to conduct consultations effectively, without using astrological jargon. We learn to talk to the client supportively about their life and its development in plain words. The consultation is designed to help, assist, enhance the client, not to “perform” or demonstrate our technical grasp of astrology or the language of astrology. We can teach astrology, but that is a completely different format than the private consultation.

RD: What are the benefits of astrology and how has it helped you and your clients?

Astrology can help guide you to the optimum career channel, can help you plan and strategize the steps you take towards your goals at specific times, can identify areas and times of special health concerns and more. But I think the most beneficial potential of astrology lies in the ability to improve yourself by improving your self understanding; finding a counseling astrologer who can help you see your life development in a helpfully objective, non-judgmental way. Noel once remarked, “It’s very empowering to understand who you are and how you became who you are.” The more I thought about, the more I realized, for me personally, it’s very true.

Two very specific but different examples from my experience of how the practice of astrology can help us:

1. “Marsha” is a lady in her late 60’s; her horoscope showed a strong convergence suggesting the potential of critical illness. I made it very clear to her that now was the time to make sure that all precautionary measures were taken; among other things, our discussion revealed that that Marsha hated mammograms and was past due for one. I drove home the point that it was a serious matter…I learned soon afterwards that she had gone in for the mammogram and a malignancy was found. She had to undergo a mastectomy, but the cancer had not yet spread and was entirely removed.
2. “Sharon” is a young wife and mother in her mid 30’s who had suffered chronic depression throughout her life. The horoscope clearly suggested this and that this was directly related to unfinished business in the early home; in this case “father” issues. She was a stay at home mom and homemaker, but she was discontented. The horoscope clearly suggested a tendency to “give herself away” – to deny self in favor of others, problematically…therapeutic balance required her to seek and accomplish self satisfaction. Additionally, the horoscope suggested interrupted education. During our discussion, I pointed out to Sharon that her father’s disinterest and her life long efforts to turn this around were simply not going to change this man and that he was the one who was at fault, not her. She admitted that from a very tender age, she wondered, “what was wrong with me”. (This offered her objectification and validation…had she ever heard this before?) I suggested that she accept this for what it was and that it may be healthy to tell him as much. (To distance herself from this cycle of rejection.) I then suggested that she resume her studies in community college and resume her years-dormant career. This all validated what she had been contemplating. She called me the next year to update me. She had resumed her education with stellar success and continuing long term goals and had found a job in her field of experience that she loved. She was full of enthusiasm, self satisfaction and a greatly enhanced self worth. Her depressive episodes had greatly declined.

RD: Who(m) have been the most influential astrologers in your life?

Noel Tyl is front and center by far. Even before I knew him…when I started reading his books, I began to really understand astrology and the synthesis of the horoscope. Then, I engaged him through his web site and he, very quickly, recognized a level of talent in me that, at that time, I didn’t. He became not just a teacher but a mentor. I never would have become a serious astrologer without Noel. You know the old proverb, “When the student is ready, the teacher will appear.”? I believe I was meant to learn from him.

There are many fine astrologers. I think we must respect the giants of history and there are too many to mention. I will mention that contemporarily, before I encountered Noel, I learned a lot more than I ever had known before from the writings of Robert Hand. Now, many of my favorite astrologers are students and graduates from Noel Tyl’s Masters Degree Certification Program: Lauren Delsack, Don McBroom, Kathy Rose, Hiroki Niizato, Jill Amery, just to name a few…there are more, and I apologize to them for their omission here…these are world class astrologers.

RD: If one wanted to get into astrology and came to you for advice, what would be the one book that you would faithfully remove from your bookshelf to loan them?

Noel Tyl’s “Synthesis and Counseling in Astrology”, hands down! But only if they are very serious, and already have a fundamental grasp of basic astrological symbolism…it’s not entertainment or razzle-dazzle, it’s teaching – it’s really a massive, advanced-level textbook!

RD: Many Tarot decks emphasize the usage of astrology meanings and symbols (such as Vicky Noble’s Motherpeace Tarot and Sage Holloway and Katherine Skagg’s Mythical Goddess Tarot). If you ask any Tarot reader for the one or two cards they have problems relating to, it will almost always be The Moon and the Hanged Man. Can you tell The Tarot Tributary audience about the qualities of Moon/Neptune/and or Pisces?

Neptune is of course the “modern” ruler of Pisces (traditionalists would say Jupiter) and I accept it as such, so there is much overlap between Neptune and Pisces in the astrological symbolism; more so than some other signs and their respective ruling planets. Neptune dissolves boundaries, all boundaries; Neptune transcends physical divides, also the ego. For example, Neptune can symbolize empathy on the one hand, and make us vulnerable to exploitation due to enhanced sensitivity on the other. Neptune can confuse but can also inspire, especially creatively, artistically, musically. The sign of Pisces can symbolize feeling that transcends, a need to understand the intangible, a need to feel and sacrifice, sometimes an ability to feel what others typically don’t; even an ability to feel what someone else feels.

The Moon in our astrology represents first and foremost our reigning emotional need; also our roots, our history, our memories, our home, our mother, our intuition, the feminine. The Moon, symbolically, runs as deep as the oceans it moves. The Moon in astrology is as important as the Sun. The Sun gives light and the Moon reflects it powerfully. The Sun and the Moon need each other and are made to work together in symbolism as well as in our material world here on earth. The Moon by sign and aspect in the horoscope describes our strongest psychodynamic need.

The Moon in Pisces or in strong aspect to Neptune suggests subconscious as well as emotional sensitivity and can inspire special sensitivities of an empathic or spiritual nature. This can include enhanced psychic awareness. When the qualities and needs symbolized by this combination are not well integrated into the personality, confusion, emotional insecurity and/or vulnerability can be manifested. Extreme sensitivity of feeling can be overwhelming. And I think it’s reasonable to suggest that people with a strong Pisces or Neptune accent in the horoscope usually need to be very cautious about any sort of experiences involving drug or alcohol use. I would also venture to say that they probably need to be well grounded within their own sense of self, their ego, lest they be acutely vulnerable to exploitation by others or – the other side of the coin – a “victim” mentality and/or excessive “neediness”, if you will. Neptune energy can be very difficult to balance.

RD: When I first started out investigating astrology, I met many different astrologers online that were less than useful (and that is putting it politely as the unfortunate truth is that there are more bad astrologers out there than you can shake a stick at). What do you suggest for others to look for when they are searching for a solid astrologer such as yourself?

I think you want to find out what it is they actually do and how they conduct a consultation. Ask them to explain it to you. ‘What should I expect this consultation to consist of, how is it to be structured, and how do you think it will be useful to me, how might it help me?’ The answer will tell you a lot, and help you make an informed decision. You might also suggest what it is that you expect, to make sure your expectations are conducive to the astrologer’s style.

RD: In your readings with people, what is your preferred method and what would one expect in a reading with you?

I pretty much try to cut to the chase very quickly, to flesh out what I sense are the major developmental issues suggested by the horoscope. I may begin with a discussion of what I see as a major personality inclination, but we get to the nitty-gritty of developmental strengths and challenges very quickly, so as not to waste time and to verify the symbolic expression as lived by the client, because the horoscope does not define the person, the person defines the symbolism into specificity. (Predestination is not in my vocabulary; free will is - and the horoscope is not a symbol of what will be, it is a symbol of what can be.)

Then we’ll review their development based on the continual projection of the horoscope symbols so I can see how these symbols correlated with the individual’s development. We’ll have a rich discussion about these important times of development and I’ll learn much about how their lives express certain symbols at certain times in the past. This is a reliable way to project most accurately how future measurements are likely to manifest in real life. I’ll pick out certain times in their life based on measurements that transpired through the past and much will be enlightened. This will establish a sense of flow that helps me bring the horoscope tightly in step with the human it represents and it also helps me verify the birth time accuracy by noting a correlation between major angular (Ascendant and Midheaven axes) contact and important events. This is very important for future projections.

We will touch upon much in the life of the client in an effort to enhance self understanding helpfully, and objectify things; particularly difficulties – why did they really happen the way they did, and why does it still upset me? – was it really my fault? – This is not an uncommon line of conversation, for one example. (It’s hard to see ourselves and our life’s “sticking points” objectively, and we often carry burdens that we don’t deserve to carry. Part of the astrologer’s job, as I see it, is to – where needed - helpfully, supportively, sensitively offer an objective view of difficult times and factors of development.) I’ll explore anything the horoscope suggests is significant, from the parents to siblings, to sexuality, possible feelings of inferiority, the health profile, talents, strengths, vocational inclinations, etc. The objective is to enhance the client’s persona and life by offering insight and support through rich and meaningful discussion.

Then we’ll look forward from the present landscape of the client’s life towards the symbolic astrological measurements ahead with the goal of identifying and achieving the client’s goals over the coming year or so, and develop a strategic timetable and plan of action. I will make it clear that the client’s attitude and active involvement is essential to achieving any goal. (Noel Tyl points out often – planets don’t do anything, people do!) This stage of the consultation will usually begin with me asking, “What do you see for yourself in the next 6 months or the next year or so.” The answer to this question will enable me to make my most accurate projections of what is possible, what is probable and how the timing is most likely to occur.

I’ll usually wind down by a quick review of any key points that would most helpfully be carried forward from the consultation by the client and a most encouraging and supportive synopsis of what we have accomplished during the consultation. I will ask them to stay in touch and let me know how things develop and I will thank them for the time and honesty they have shared with me and for the confidence they have shown in me.

RD: In Tarot, there have been new discoveries of the old, as new information comes out to suggest that Tarot may derive from spiritual teachings of Kabbalistic origins or even from ancient Egypt. What was the biggest moral/spiritual lesson you’ve learned from your practice of astrology that lends to your philosophy about life.

My spiritual beliefs are the foundation of my philosophy on life and this was quite fully developed for me before I became an astrologer or began my serious studies. What the practice of astrology has done for me in that regard is to verify and enhance my existing outlook. That is, there is much more to our world and our existence than can be scientifically measured from the material plane (at least to this point in human evolution), that there are reasons we are here and we in fact came here (to the material plane) by choice, essentially on our own terms to work out our own challenges. For me, the horoscope is a symbol of the existence we chose in the present incarnation.

However, let me be clear: the horoscope represents who we are now and I use it to offer practical support to people, not to explore past lives or project my spiritual values and belief system on anyone else. A counseling astrologer must be objective and non-judgmental about these subjects – It’s not about my views, it’s all about the client. So my philosophy and spiritual orientation are quite separate from the one on one consultation, quite as it should be.

RD: Would you like to share with us a moment in your practice where a reading gave validation to your skills as an astrologer (that AHA moment!).

One of my most early consultations was a client, we’ll call her “Ellen”, whose horoscope suggested most vividly an inadequate father relationship (a father who failed her) leading directly to a problematically obsessive need to establish her own self worth and find the love of her father in a love relationship. This was accompanied by a deeply intense, emotional sexual profile. (I had been somewhat ‘scolded’ by Noel in a previous lesson because of a measure of timidity, a reluctance to present strongly to a previous client a major point of analysis – essentially due to a lack of confidence; what if I was wrong?) I zeroed in on this very quickly and directly with Ellen and she instantly gushed out all of the emotion you can imagine with this kind of cycle of relationship difficulty, with amazement that I had cut right to it, exactly. She was in tears and validated all of this in great detail. We discussed it all with great sensitivity and she was relieved to get it off her chest because she had an astrologer who knew her and understood, supportively. I won her confidence and trust conclusively within 5 minutes. When we began the past measurement based review of her life, I asked her about “all of this great difficulty and angst that seems to have began around age 6 or 7 and continued through the age of 13 or so” and she gasped loudly and explained to me that she had been molested by extended family members beginning and ending during that same time frame. I learned that she had repressed the memory of it all and it had been brought out during psychoanalysis some years thereafter. From that day forward, given a documented birth time, I knew I could trust the horoscope and my analysis of it. My teacher was right.

RD: Final parting words, for those who are interested in having a reading with you, how may they contact you and how much do you charge?

You can reach me by e-mail at or by cell phone at 512-630-3242. I currently charge $85 for a comprehensive consultation. This usually lasts one hour, give or take 15-20 minutes. I ask that you offer me the source for your birth time, hopefully a birth certificate record. If major rectification is required, there would be an extra fee, usually $65. I am not qualified for horary work, but I will do elective work – the fee would depend on the details of what is required; just call or e-mail me with your request and I will quote the price.

Thank you, Remi…it’s been a pleasure!

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