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I have recently begun to re-evaluate how I do readings, and how I explain the details of the birth chart and transits to my clients. I think that this is important for any working astrologer. The moment you think you’re doing it exactly right (and better than anyone else) is probably the moment you’ve started suffering from the Dunning-Kruger effect.

I received some helpful advice about doing readings the other day, when I had a lengthy conversation with a jackrabbit in my backyard.

The rabbit in question has been hanging around a lot lately, and although these creatures are normally skittish and terrified to approach a human being, he’s been unusually friendly towards me. I’ve decided to call him Benjen. And yes: if you know where that name comes from, congratulations! You’re a nerd too!

A couple of days ago I saw Benjen crouched comfortably in the snow. He wasn’t moving much — just looking around and apparently taking a break. Even when I got very close to him he didn’t run away. He wasn’t hurt. He wasn’t frightened. He just sat there and continue to regard me, honoring me with his presence. So I decided to sit down on the sidewalk next to him, well within petting distance, and receive whatever wisdom came forth.

(PRO TIP: Don’t pet wildlife, urban or otherwise. Rabbits are fleeting, but rabies can last you for the rest of your dramatically-shortened life)

I assumed the lotus position and spent a good ten minutes just sitting there next to him.

I learned two things from my conversation with Benjen.

First: I know of an astrologer (a very good one) who sometimes refers to transiting planets in aspect with each other, or to points in a birth chart, as “having conversations.” I never really considered this to be anything more than a convenient metaphor until recently.

It seems to me now that, when a transit happens, it isn’t simply an effect of “where you are in your life” or “what the Universe is trying to do to you.” It’s easy enough to say something like “transiting Saturn on your descendant means your marriage is going to be difficult.” There’s a good chance that this will be the case, but there’s also a larger message in there.

Saturn isn’t just trying to bust your chops. Saturn does its job for a reason. If in the above example, your marriage suddenly faces difficulties, what can be learned from it? Do you need to re-evaluate the relationship, or the person you are in it with? Do you need to do more work with it? Less work? Does that person need to re-evaluate you? These are subtle but important questions that a dry, textbook interpretation of your transits will never really catch.

If you are having a particularly good transit, the real message is even easier to overlook. If transiting Saturn is trine your descendant, then odds are good your relationship will stabilize. That’s certainly a good thing, and we are often tempted to not look a gift horse in the mouth. But why is it stabilizing? What difficulties have been overcome? How can we avoid them in future? Like a jackrabbit, a good transit can be welcome, but it tends to scamper off before you can put too much thought into it.

The other thing I learned from talking to Benjen? Sitting in the lotus position on bare pavement in January in Canada can be exceedingly cold… but occasionally it might actually be worth it.

Next time: a highly educational backyard encounter with a skunk.

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