Star Trekking

On a recent family jaunt to the Perth Observatory we learned that our own organic matter is much the same as the matter from which stars are made, too.

At this point my 12 year old Sagittarian son turned to me and said, "Oh is that why you do all your astro thingy-jigs? So you can find out what bits of stars I am made of?"

I hadn't quite thought of it that way, but I guess it's a good way of explaining why I first became interested in astrology and how it has assisted my quest to understand and support children.

My own relationship with astrology moved from being an armchair peruser of Linda Goodman to Visionary Astrological Activist when I happened upon an "oracle" woman called Maggy, 16 years ago.

Maggy was a seasoned astrologer who had been previously employed by the Dutch Government in The Hague as an astrological vocational guidance counsellor (yes, progressive I know!). Her job was to assist Social Services in their endeavours to get delinquent youth off the streets, away from drugs and help set them on career and personal growth pathways that would provide motivation to continue their lives in a more self supporting manner.

My weary demeanor, (classic for a mother of a Scorpio child), made her feel sorry for me and she suggested I have his chart interpreted. I can honestly say that this was probably the best money I have ever spent. Suddenly, there were good explanations for even the most subtle of things. I finally felt like I had a map that might assist in the many days and nights of travel my son, I and indeed the whole family had ahead of us. It finally felt like I was driving with the headlights on instead of peering through the windscreen into a murky fog, hoping I wouldn't end up in a ditch!

Chart interpretation offers, like the stars in the sky, uncountable opportunities for conscious parenting. We can learn about how they might overtly express their journey to individuation by looking at their Sun sign, understand better the landscape and modus operandi of their emotions, instincts and habits through their Moon position, accept their way of facing or interacting with the world by their Rising Sign and learn to accept and support their motivational forces by knowing where Mars lies in their natal chart.

We can also find comfort and solace in tough times by using Dynamic astrology that highlights and explains why "stuff" is happening at the moment and breathe easier knowing that "this, too, will soon pass" or that NOW is the time to act.

The Sun

Most of us are familiar with Sun signs; if your child took its first breath in early May they would be a Sun Taurus child. Your little Bull would likely seem to do things more slowly or more thoroughly perhaps than his Gemini sister because Taureans like security and all things earthy. He might love his food or be the kid who spends hours in the garden digging, singing and eating worms. His Gemini sister, on the other hand, seems to have a shorter attention span, is a computer whizz and chatters away from dawn 'til dusk!

These are, of course, gross generalisations; a Sun sign does leave a good stamp on our souls, but contrary to popular belief we are not born completely whole or in complete harmony with our Sun sign. Starting in childhood, we have a lifetime's journey to make towards our Sun - that which makes us shine.

Knowing that little Leo Hannah whose soul expression is rooted in wanting to "shine" in a centre stage way might help those who live who with her be more tolerant of her drama queen ways - she's literally rehearsing for a life in the limelight. Or maybe the frustrating, nit picking, fussy eating habits of your Virgo babe can be reframed when you realise that this attention to detail and interest (?) in food could be turned into a future in naturopathy or food science.

The Ascendant

The Ascendant provides a filter through which the Sun shines. The sign that was on the horizon at the time of birth adds a particular flavour and tint to the Sun sign. It represents the way the little native presents him or herself to the world. My own little Scorpio, who attended a whole year of pre-primary school in legionnaires hat and dark glasses (very Scorpio), has a Gemini ascendant which made for endless chatter and curiosity (Gemini), in private, (Scorpio again), about all things technological and sometimes very abstract and exhausting for his mum.

I found him one day at the age of 10 sitting in his bed in the dead of night (there's that Scorpio again!) devouring the Periodic Table like it was a bar of chocolate. By breakfast the next day he knew it all off by heart (Scorpio intensity and photographic memory combined with his Gemini delight of all things alchemical).

The Moon

This scintillating satellite illuminates the darker, more secret, parts of a child's psyche.

Symbolically, it represents our emotional landscape, our feeling selves. Where the Moon lies in a child's chart will give us clues as to how best help them feel safe and nurtured. It can also give a little third eye advantage for how they might behave, or not! You might get lucky and get some insider information of how the "terrible twos" and tantrums might manifest. If your wee one has an Aries Moon it would be wise to find a babysitter or leave him with Nanna when you hit the supermarket, especially if you embarrass easily.

Aries Moon child will likely burst into flames very quickly and loudly, but then subside with equal alacrity - but only if he or she feels they got what they wanted. They are the infant warriors of the zodiac, dynamic custodians of leadership.

Aries represents the "I" principle and sits as the first sign of the zodiac predisposed to push itself up through the frozen crust of earth in early spring, embodying the energy required to do this.

Cancer Moon child, however, is very sensitive and receptive and will hold on to those harsh words, which fell out of your mouth in the heat of the moment until death do you part. Cancer Moons are essentially truly kind and compassionate, but if crossed can resort to emotional blackmail and revenge. They are the budding teenage girls who know how to cut right to the bone and push your own sensitive buttons. Their greatest requirement is reliability and harmony in the home, which helps build up their confidence and quells their propensity to worry. They might also be the children who know how to put pennies into the piggy bank and leave them there for a while.

The position of the Moon also highlights how a child experiences the mother and how they perceive the nurturing they receive.

A Moon in Capricorn child might see mum as being austere, traditional and perhaps controlled or rather ambitious, whereas his Moon Aquarius brother may think mum was a little detached, quirky and cool but fair: same mother, same family, same nurturing style, but different experience for each child.

My own Capricorn Moon son has pushed me to find quiet, creative ways of supporting the idea that he might find it more difficult to experience nourishment, and to accept that structure and organisation will make him feel safer. He was not prone to having emotional outbursts as a youngster (what no terrible twos? I must be doing something wrong!), because this Moon position finds it hard to find comfortable ways of self expressing which, if not acknowledged or creatively supported, can lead to possible depression in later life.

I have had to learn to use the word "think" instead of "feel" (the latter being much more natural for me being a wobbly watery Piscean!). And so when the Cappy Moon boundaries need a little softening I ask, "So what do you think about that?" ensuring I add a sprinkling of humour or wit into the mix to lighten the Saturnian load.

Education and learning

When I met Maggy I was working as a Learning Support teacher. I was frustrated with the "hit and miss" approach employed to help children with learning difficulties, so she suggested I simply look at the predominant Elements of their charts which might give some idea of "how" they might learn best, and also the condition of their Mercury, the planet that governs learning, mastery of things and the quality of our perception.

Miraculously, I found that by implementing these simple ideas, making some changes in my teaching style and approach actually assisted in making the learning more accessible.

Simply put, Fire Sun or Mercury kids (Aries, Leo, Sagittarius) are the inspirers of mankind so they need to be inspired. Boring, droning history teachers who salivate over facts and figures are their nemesis. Fire children also need to have the objective of learning clearly indicated. They need to see the point and get impatient with waffly abstractions. They tend to be outcome motivated and respond to having their competitive energy kindled. A teacher needs to engage them by making the end product desirous.

One might try presenting a topic by adding some drama to the process. They also benefit from being encouraged to underpin their impulsiveness with more earthy habits of rechecking their work. Guiding them to express their enthusiasm in a passionate, single minded way that ends in success, and then giving them opportunities to move on to play leader (keeping a watchful eye out for the bossy competitor) seems to literally "fire" them up.

Earth Sun or Mercury children (Taurus, Virgo and Capricorn) tend to respond better to practical methods. They are the kids who need to see, touch and experience tangible evidence of their learning. They are the ones who always need beans and counters for that little while longer when introduced to mathematical processes. Again, they're the kids who love to go out into the playground with the trundle wheel and metre stick and spend all morning measuring and cataloguing their findings in tables.

They often need extra time to digest the logic behind what's going on. They need to classify and order and see, touch and taste, not content with abstraction. They really enjoy making things and are children who need to build pyramids (the bigger the better), dig holes in the earth and build cubbies from plans.

Cooking and using recipes as base ideas to teach reading, writing, weights and measurement builds not just their skills but also their confidence. The proof is literally in the pudding!

Air Sun and Mercury kids (Gemini, Libra and Aquarius) are more content with ideas and abstract theories and often love to read, happy in a fantasy world because they seem to be able to make the fantasy real. They fall into the category of intellectual kids and ironically can be the children who appear detached or "away with the fairies". When this became a problem, I found it was because there wasn't enough satisfying intellectual stimulation, so they went off into their heads to find some more!

Giving kids like this plenty of opportunity to really use their ideas lifts their game, but you have to ensure they learn to put practical substance and methodology underneath the idea or they can end up learning to dismiss their genius too quickly. This might be the kid who finishes the task in five minutes, but then has no impetus to get on and do anything else - the clever, but lazy, one.

It's crucial to listen to the ideas of Air kids and not brush them off too quickly or to expect them to be too self sufficient. Spend those extra minutes pointing out and guiding them to investigate that next step or idea that teaches them about the power of their intellect through manifestation.

Children with a predominantly positive Air energy are the best suited to our current educational ideology, which is rooted in an intellectual, masculine, social "head"-based framework.

Children who have their Sun or Mercury in watery Cancer, Scorpio or Pisces are those who learn by osmosis. They collect information through a process of deep absorption, so a good starting point is regular attendance at school. They feel their way through life, so learning needs to involve some sort of emotional element. These are the little ones who will learn something if they love it or even hate it!

One of my students, a 10 year old Cancerian girl, had problems getting words on the page, writing longer paragraphs and using a wider vocabulary. According to her classroom teacher, she had no motivation and often rebelled quite vociferously. (I later found out she had her Mars in Aries in the 4th house).

In a breakthrough session, I gave her a list of topics to respond to. She picked one that concerned the journey of a lion cub from Africa to a zoo in San Diego. Her piece was packed full of words I had never seen her use before - unfair, cruel, lonely and unjust. Her pencil dug deep into the paper and she opened up, asking me how to spell words and engaged in a discussion with me, something she had previously been reluctant to do. Looking back, I can now make connections as to what might have sparked that reaction: Cancer is concerned with home, roots and mothering.

Some of the other watery kids with learning problems, (and I think there were more water ones than others) also worked better if I used music, chanting, stamping out or dancing out times tables or spellings - perhaps a grounding experience for those floaty types?

I had a wonderful impish Neptunian boy who responded beautifully when I used his obsession with wanting to learn how to dive by making him "swim" in through the door of my room, don aqualungs made from mineral water bottles and goggles. We worked on his weak numerical skills by using a white board and hand signals. Not a word passed our lips for the entire session.

Raising children is always a work in progress that requires devotion, courage, self reflection, sacrifice and infinite love. Astrology can be a lamp we carry, that casts a light just that little bit further and wider, giving us access to information and dynamics that support and complement this important voyage.

Having astrological insight does not mean we surrender completely to a notion of destiny. It does not excuse bad behaviour or self destructive habits, nor does it vindicate us from responsibility. But it does offer possible explanations that can be used constructively and sensitively in the hope of providing us with a more informed journey with our children.

The beauty of astrology over other more mainstream parenting advice lies in the fact that it operates from a very basic and strong premise that each one of us has a truly unique blueprint that can be used to illuminate pathways that would otherwise remain in the dark.

Everybody does better with a map, a compass and a few directions!