Important news for Astrological Association members
The Association is to become a limited company this year. This will not make any difference to members - you will continue to recieve all your normal membership benefits - but it does require that all members should sign up to become either Full Voting Members or Honourary Associates. Most members will already had all the details and signed the appropriate form; if you haven't signed, or just aren't sure, more details are on the Council News Page
Back in the January 2005 edition of Transit, I wrote about the problems with getting accurate birth data for those born outside Europe and the US.
I concentrated then on Osama bin Laden as an example. For a number of reasons (quite apart from the lack of a birth record), there are numerous disputed birth charts for him.
In September 2006 there was an unverified news report that OBL was dead; this promptly set several astrologers bringing out articles based on their favourite birth chart for the Al-Qaeda leader. Once again, I have to remind everyone that - contrary to what you may have read - there is no verified birth record for Osama bin Laden; all the dates put forward are hearsay or guesses and even the year of his birth is uncertain.
The same goes for Saddam Hussein. There is no verified birth record for him; the usually accepted 'official' birthdate of April 28th 1937 is almost certainly an invention. But many astrologers continue use and disseminate that date without bothering to check; after his execution, one astrologer posted a notice on an elist that the man who had been hanged could not possibly have been Saddam because none of the transits and progressions to his chart indicated death!
This isnít a new problem. I remember that when Elvis Presley died in 1977, there was no birth time known for him then, and several rectified charts were put forward. Then somebody actually went to the trouble of finding Presleyís birth certificate (as he was born a twin, the time of his birth was recorded on it).
As I recall, nearly all the rectified charts hazarded a midday - 2pm birth time; this of course puts the Sun in the 10th house of fame and career success. But, guess what? His birth certificate stated that he was born at 4.35 AM.
Itís all too easy to let your expectations get in the way - for instance, the most favoured chart for Osama bin Laden has him as a Pisces, based on his large and soulful eyes, apparently! Well, Iím a Pisces, and my eyes arenít noticably big or soulful.
Rasputin has long been another victim of the "Look, I can do rectification!" crowd. The most thorough biography of Rasputin is probably The Life and Times of Gregori Rasputin by Alex de Jong (pub 1982; ISBN 9780881844849). De Jong, part-Russian and a fluent Russian speaker, went to Russia for his research; there he was given complete access to Kremlin files on the "Mad Monk" and was allowed to travel to Rasputin's home village and interview surviving members of the family. But even so, he was unable to find even a year of birth for Rasputin, never mind a date. Yet the number of speculative charts I have seen for him are probably only outnumbered by the number of charts available for OBL.
Rectification certainly has its place. For instance, as an astrologer, Iíve twice been asked to find somebodyís birthdate. One request was from a man who had been born in a refugee convoy in the chaos of war; the other person had been abandoned as a baby. Both had 'official' birthdates that were only somebodyís rough guess and which could have been as much as four or five days out. Both had a strong psychological need to discover their 'real' birthday, and were happy when I gave them one. (Natually, I was as certain as I could be that the dates I gave to both of them were their actual birth dates.)
Of course, the techniques for uncovering likely birth-times for clients should be part of every astrologerís working methods; practicing on the charts of living celebrities, watching how your predictions for them turn out, is a good way of learning.
However, too many astrologers treat rectification as a game, competing to see who can produce the most 'authentic' chart for somebody currently in the news (quite often brandishing their knowledge of arcane astrological techniques in the process). And I really see no point in trying to set up charts for long-dead historical figures for whom there is limited biographical information and no birth record. In such cases, how are you ever going to find out how well - or badly - your techniques work?
We astrologers rely on accurate data; we need confirmed birth data to get the best results. We should not let our wishful thinking get in the way of the truth. As Lois Rodden wrote: "The bottom line is that we cannot validate our findings unless we can first validate our data." A text that should hang above the desk of every astrologer.