How to progress in the field of Astrology? What skills are required in a person to be able to ace the path well? What attributes make an astrologer ponder at a chart and then fire a prediction that hits the bull's eye?
Astrology is not for everyone. But almost anyone can pursue it if the mindset and personality attributes are present. These factors alone will take the seeker forward to a good territory, and then the presence of a great Guru can make the difference between good-to-great.
In his remarkable work BPHS (Brihat Parashara Hora Shastra) Sage Parashara has mentioned few qualities that an astrologer must possess to be able to do justice to the work.
Sage Parashara says in BPHS:-
गणितेषु प्रवीणों यः शब्दशास्त्रे कृतश्रमः, न्यायविदबुद्धिदेशज्ञ दिक्कालज्ञो जितेन्द्रियः! ऊहापोहपटुर्होरास्कंधश्रवणसम्मतः, मैत्रेय सत्यताम याति तस्य वाक्यं न संशयः||
Sage Parashara is asking the advice giver to be very intelligent and learned in affairs of both society and the world at large, an expert in mathematics, be good with articulation of words and wisdom, to know psychology aspect of the human beings, should have a moral compass and ability to judge right advice from wrong, must be an expert of perspectives, and should be able to have memory that remembers dictums with a wisdom that is crisp and motherly-like. Basically Sage Parashara is asking the astrologer to be a clone of Robert-Downey-Junior (except that Iron man never indulged into Astrology. Sigh!). When I first read the list given by Sage Parashatra many years ago, I felt that something is not complete here and may be irrelevant in today's age. The process of studying a horoscope is like detective work - you have to solve a murder mystery using the sea of clues in front of you. And I've seen many brilliant people loosing their minds while making a headway. Hence I have prepared another list of qualities that an aspiring astrologer must possess in today's age to progress faster in the field without much strain. These are the qualities:
Intelligence - A mind that has keen observation and ability to progress by asking questions. True intelligence isn't about giving snapshot predictions, but by asking relevant questions that align with the energy of the chart and be able to sync chart's energies with what the person is saying. When the person in front of you aligns with the energy structure visible in the chart - that's when brilliant predictions and life discussions start to come.
A deep understanding of planets, houses, and signs - This is absolute basics and without this groundwork in place, any amazing things ain't gonna come!
Knowhow of the Art of prediction - Where to begin. How to pick and choose selected clues while leaving apparent ones. Usually Guru(s) give this knowledge to the selected few students. My one teacher Mr. Freedom Cole made sure I got this part right. Thanks Freedom Ji!
Finding your heart early - Ultimately Astrology is one, and so the expert astrologer has gained expertise in more than one systems. But it is a big help to first choose and pick one system that speaks with your own intelligence and can be mastered, This helps start the consulting practice that gets refined with experience which further helps notices the gaps in one's own knowledge and hence comes the organic need to develop oneself in other systems.
Ability to work with software (non trivial) - Most calculations have come on software these days. So astrologer need not be a master in mathematics as required in olden times.
Mastery of birth time rectification techniques - It is common for clients to provide their birth details with incorrect birth times. Astrology is highly time sensitive, and so birth time rectification techniques must be at a disposal to tweak the chart that fits well. I personally do the time rectification on every single case and I don't know how I can begin predictions without being confident on the little variations in the chart that comes from a correct birth time.
Fortitude - The ability to see predictions fail every once in a while and be okay with it. Astrology community of India is obsessed with a mythical scenario of giving sharp predictions that never fail. I've never seen any astrologer always succeeding. A thick skin and being humble about the output of the work makes way for the long haul. That you can fail at times and keep progressing makes the difference between a novice and a master down the road.
Experience - This comes from repetitive work just like any other pure field like science, literature, or Arts. The shine in the brilliance comes after one has clocked 10000 hours of practice - a rule that was originally invented by Anders Ericsson (Professor at the University of Colorado) and made famous by Malcolm Gladwell. Nothing beats practice and clocking one's passionate hours.
The ability to mix books and systems - There was a time in history when a student had to travel hundreds of miles to learn one system from a Guru. Today, we have many systems at our disposal thanks to internet and books. The problem of today is not lack of resources but a flood of techniques available to us. This presents a challenge in front of the astrologer on choosing the right tools that work for him. Any great astrologer of today must be able to diagnose quickly the big picture of learning and be able to either stack up or leave systems that are not working for him. Define base system, develop mastery and build systems on top of this one.
Good intuition - The ability to get to the heart of the matter, and read the person's personality using body language and speech. Like all service professions, this helps a lot.
Free from a passionate mind - Practice of Astrology is like playing sports. One desires money, fame, and the zing around it but - on the golf ground with stick in your hand if your mind wavers from the ball in front of you, the shot goes to waste. Getting free from 'passions, glory, and financial rewards', when the astrologer just takes a deep dive into the horoscope presented then amazing predictions happen!
Good counselling and interpersonal skills - To empathise and relate to the other person well. To give a perspective of the problem and prediction that suits and resolves person's temperament.